The Brock Press might not have been around to fill you in over the summer months, but although it might be hard to believe, the world has kept on spinning without us. We thought it would be a good idea to have a little catch up session on the pop culture we’ve been checking out; the stuff we all loved, stuff you might have missed, and stuff you might want to miss.
Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp
It’s finally here; 10 years of world building, delicate planning and admiring the three most handsome Chris’ on the planet has led to this. Avengers: Infinity War is the ending of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Act: Thanos (Josh Brolin) has finally unleashed himself upon the Avengers, in his quest to ‘balance’ the universe by halving the life within it. Expectations were as high as the stakes, but I’m pleased to report that the epic saga delivered. Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups. As grandiose as the event itself is, Marvel has always had a knack for ruining its epic moments. Could the reveal of Steve Rogers have been any more lackluster? The same goes for the Battle of Wakanda, which, although has its moments, is basically just a huge beat-em-up in a big green field. None of that matters though, because the overall product is astounding. Thanos is suitably menacing, even if his plan and motives are a little nonsensical. The moments that need to be perfect are often better than perfect (Thor’s return to Earth, and T’Challa’s incredible one liner to the Children of Thanos are moments that spring to mind.) It should be no secret that, one way or another, these Marvel films will carry on, but the wait to find out how Marvel comes back from this will be a long and arduous one, which is kind of why Ant-Man and the Wasp shouldn’t have come out after it. It’s light-hearted fun was a much needed break from the huge scale of other Marvel films lately, but it can’t help but suffer from being placed right after the most bombastic adventure they’ve ever put out. Good fun, for sure, but it can’t compete with Infinity War, and it shouldn’t have been made.
Prequelle by Ghost
Metal music has been saved for another generation, ladies and gentlemen. The old guard of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest might still be kicking it as well as ever, but they can’t hold it down forever. A new crowd needs to come in to take their place; not that there aren’t plenty of young metal acts, but they’re considerably heavier and darker than the acts listed above. I’ve been craving a new band with the melodic epicness that made the genre such a thrill in the eighties. In 2010, that band came thrashing out of Sweden. Ghost, fronted by the mysterious Cardinal Copia (the fictional pope of the Satanic church the band poses as members of), didn’t just release an album with their debut Opus Eponymous: they created a fiction and a world. As their music and success has been expanding, so too has that world, and this summer’s Prequelle is the height of all of this. The heavy parts are some of the heaviest they’ve ever recorded (‘Faith’ is a belter of a tune that puts even Metallica to shame), the quieter moments are handled with a delicate grace and there are even some prog-like elements that push the boundaries of what heavy music can be (including a saxophone solo.) It’s an incredible album, whether you’re into heavy music or not. Ghost is going to take over the world this year.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Arrested Development
Netflix has been pushing hard on its original content for the last few months, but this summer has seen new (and in one case, almost final) installments of some of its longer-running series. It’s a huge array of shows that I haven’t had time to check out all of, but I thought I’d share a highlight and a letdown from the summer.
First, the letdown: the first half of Arrested Development’s fifth season. While the old chemistry that made the show work is back, it’s the only part of the show that feels like it’s really there. It just feels tired. The snappy pace of the original show is nowhere to be seen, jokes pass by at a leisurely pace, and scenes hang in the air much longer than they’re needed. The worst part is that you could actually cut these 30-40 minute episodes down to the sharp 22 minutes that the show was designed to be and the issues I have would be fixed (well except for the issue of ‘now knowing that Jeffrey Tambor is a giant creep’, which makes it impossible to care about any of the things that happen to George Sr. in this season).
This is why the first half of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s final season was such a welcome treat. It’s triumphant. It has a lot to say, a sharp wit to say it with and one of the greatest cast of characters to say it through. The show has truly found its comic voice; it’s stopped trying to prove itself and is truly being itself. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is inventive, joyful, incisive and incredible. It makes me happy to know that some of the best stuff to come out of Netflix is the new stuff.