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Watchmen (HBO Series)

Watchmen is an HBO live action series based on the iconic graphic novel created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It takes place in an alternate world where superheroes are real and cellphones don’t exist. It is brought to the silver screen by Damon Lindelof, the same guy who co-created Lost and The Leftovers. He knows how to tell an exciting and intriguing story with amazing characters. It’s HBO’s best new show of 2019 for a reason.

I had a bit of a head start when it came to watching the Watchmen (see what I did there?), because I own the comic and the Zack Snyder film adaption, so I’m quite familiar with most of the characters and the world they inhabit. Lindelof gives the show a twist by making it take place thirty-four years after the events of the comic. Some original characters return, some are missing, and there are new characters to learn about. Regina King leads a stellar cast that also includes Jeremy Irons, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Hong Chau just to name a few.

The first season consists of nine episodes, each one running about an hour. It’s meant to be a complete story so it ends with a satisfying conclusion. They still set it up for a potential second season, but this season could be all we get from Lindelof and I’m ok with that. There’s nothing wrong with perfection.

As usual, I will refrain from talking about the plot. It takes a few episodes to get going. There are a lot of characters to introduce and it takes time to discover who they are and what they want. It’s nonlinear with lots of flashbacks and reveals. I was intrigued by the show before it aired and I tried to hype it up to my girlfriend, but she didn’t read the comic and wasn’t impressed with Snyder’s film version, and I ultimately watched the whole show without her. When I finished I wanted to watch it again, this time with her. It was too good not to share.

I made her watch the first episode last week. Then Christmas chaos rolled around and we were too busy to watch anything. We were finally free last night and we binged three episodes in a row. It didn’t matter that she didn’t ever read the comic. That shows how great the show really is. When we watch it, we actually watch it. Like our phones are turned off and we pay attention to the television screen and nothing else. It’s not just for comic book nerds, it’s for anybody who likes action, mysteries, villainous plots, philosophy, alternate histories, and blue wieners.

Who watches the Watchmen? People with good taste. Like me. You should have good taste too. Watch the Watchmen. And spread the word. Everyone deserves to have blue wieners in their life.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by by Brendan H. Young

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The Lion King

The Lion King is one of the best animated films of all time. It is Disney’s best Pixar-less movie. It’s about a lion named Simba, and Simba is in line to be the king of the Pride Lands. Instead his uncle murders his father and takes over the throne. Simba must avenge his father and assume the throne, but first he runs away to live with a warthog and a meerkat and eat bugs.

The story starts with Mufasa and Sarabi celebrating the birth of their baby by having a monkey dangle him from a high rock over hundreds of wild animals. The baby is Simba, and one day he will be the Lion King, but for now he’s just a curious cub. He spends his days frolicking with and getting beat up by his friend Nala. His uncle is evil and wants to be king. His name is Scar and he has a scar. The writers either ran out of African names to use or just got really lazy. Either way, Scar keeps trying to kill Simba and/or Mufasa (whichever comes first). One day, after Simba and Nala barely escape Scar’s hyena henchmen, Mufasa tells him about the circle of life, how one day he will die and Simba will become king, and a bunch of other life lessons.

Scar eventually succeeds in killing Mufasa, and he makes Simba think that it was his fault. Simba decides to run away instead of dealing with his problems. Simba almost dies but he gets saved by Timon and Pumba. Timon is a sarcastic meerkat and Pumba is a stupid, smelly warthog. They decide to take in Simba and they teach him about Hakuna Matata and how to live a carefree life.

Simba grows up with them, but he can’t forget his past. One day, his old pal Nala shows up on their turf looking for food. Simba and Nala are ecstatic to see each other again and sparks fly. Nala is surprised to learn that Simba is still alive, and Simba is surprised to learn that Scar has taken over the throne and the kingdom is suffering. Nala tells Simba to get his shit together and claim the crown that’s rightfully his. Simba still thinks that he killed his dad and doesn’t want to go back and deal with his inner demons.

But then he talks to a monkey and a cloud that looks and sounds like his dead dad and he decides to go back. Timon and Pumba decide they have to help their friend and they hitch a ride back with Nala.

Simba confronts Scar and finds out the truth about Scar killing his dad and Simba learns it wasn’t his fault. Stuff happens and Simba emerges victorious and becomes the Lion King. And then he and Nala have a baby lion and the circle of life goes on.

If you haven’t seen The Lion King in a while, it’s worth revisiting. The plot is clichéd and tired and not at all unique. But it’s the characters and the dialog and the songs that make this a classic. The opening sequence sucks you in, and you know that you’re going to experience something special in this film. There are a lot of animal puns hidden in the dialog and song lyrics. Tim Rice and Elton John’s songs are great and enhance the movie, along with Hans Zimmer’s score.

The voice cast is pretty impressive. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick play young and old Simba. James Earl Jones plays Mufasa, Rowan Atkinson (A.K.A. Mr. Bean) plays Zazu, Jeremy Irons plays Scar, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella play Timon and Pumba, and Cheech Marin and Whoopi Goldberg play hyenas. They originally wanted Tommy Chong to play one of the hyenas. Cheech and Chong in a Disney movie? There would have been way more jokes about the grasslands, that’s for sure. We missed out.

This is an awesome movie and it’s like a time machine that takes you back to when you used to watch it as a kid. You remember where you watched it, who you watched it with, you remember singing those damn songs, and trying not to cry when Mufasa dies.

This movie doesn’t have a great story. But it has great moments. It has great music. It has a great cast. It has great visuals. When you add those attributes up, it makes The Lion King better than what it should be. It’s now one of those movies that you have to see. If you haven’t seen The Lion King people look at you funny. No childhood is complete without seeing this movie. If you haven’t seen it by this point, you are probably going out of your way to avoid it, and that’s sad because you deserve a childhood.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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