My first thought after watching The Hound of the Baskervilles was to watch another film about inheriting a title by murder, The List of Adrian Messenger … but it turns out I don’t have it. So I went with 1944’s THE PEARL OF DEATH, a reworking of Doyle’s The Six Napoleons in which conniving villains Miles Mander and Evelyn Ankers steal and hide a priceless pearl, then begin the hunt for it. Aiding them is “the Creeper,” a Brute Man played by Rondo Hatton, a real life acromegalic (so he looks pretty freaky) who went to play similar roles in other films (including The Spider Woman Strikes Back). Opposing them, of course, are Watson, Holmes and Dennis Hooey’s clueless Lestrade (seen between the two stars in the photo — all rights to image remain with current holder). It’s one of the better films in the series. “You haven’t robbed and killed merely for gain like any ordinary halfway decent thug. No, you’re in love with cruelty for it’s own sake.”
X-MEN: Apocalypse (2016) worked better for me than I anticipated from the reviews (that I was stuck on the couch petting Plush Dog so I couldn’t do much but watch TV may have helped, of course) as the return of the original mutant Apocalypse reunites the cast of First Class with newcomers Scott, Jean and Kurt to (what else) save the world. The weaknesses here are Magneto (even given the death of his family is comics canon, it’s stock, and leaves him once again teetering between Good and Evil), Apocalypse (I don’t like the comics version but Oscar Isaacs’ turn here is even duller) and just too much stuff and too many characters (Olivia Munn’s Psylocke gets zero characterization). But there’s no question it was the right movie for that afternoon. “I hate to break it to you but you’re not the biggest freak at this school.”
TV-wise, I watched two first episodes that managed to kill my interest in further viewing. First we have Amazon’s THE TICK (2017) which despite being written by Tick creator Ben Edlund seems to miss all the fun or the comics or the cartoon. It’s the equivalent of a grim-and-gritty reboot where Arthur’s single determining incident is the death of his father after a superhero team crash their jet on top of him because the Big Bad blinded them all with a syphilis based aerosol! I half wonder if Edlund was trying to go so over the top it’d be funny, but I don’t think so. “What’s behind your ear? That’s right — nothing!”
CLEVERMAN (2016) is an Australian specfic show that recycles the cliches of mutants/mages/Ets as discriminated minority: the “Hairies” are confined to their own part of the city, bullied by the authorities, but now the time may have come to fight for their rights. Despite getting some good reviews, I found this one way too trite to bother with.
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