SPOILER Magazine April 2021

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OUR TEAM Editor-in-Chief Galaxy Print Editor Art Director Sara Hope Kent Klarks Design and illustration Supervisor Ronald Garcia Design Manager Zerologhy Copy Editor Ethan Brehm

INSIDE OUR y UNIVERSE x a l a by G Welcome back to another amazing issue of SPO!LER!

Staff Writers The Greatest Writing Team in Our Universe Matthew Mclachlan Vanessa Bellew Robert Napolitano David Grand Phuong Pham Natalie Reade Michael Bernardi Ethan Brehm Moses Gamer Social Media Manager Thor the all mighty Advertising Ads@SpoilerMagazine.com Sponsorship sponsorship@SpoilerMagazine.com Press Please send all press releases to: press@SpoilerMagazine.com Please send all review material to: review@SpoilerMagazine.com Subscriptions For all subscription enquiries please contact: sub@SpoilerMagazine.com Check out our website for details on how to get our DIGITAL EDITION Circulation Do you want this magazine at your local book store, comic book hangout, toy shop, or anywhere else for that matter? Let us know, we can make it happen. circulation@SpoilerMagazine.com SPOILER Magazine is published by Spoiler Media Magazine Publishing. Nothing in this magazine can be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher. Whilst every effort is made to ensure all information in the magazine is correct, details maybe subject to change. All photographic material is copyright to the relevant owner and appears with their kind permission. Visuals are used in a review context and no copyright infringement is intended. All rights reserved. SPOILER Magazine is printed in the USA SPOILER Magazine 7095 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood, California 90028 “Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening” - Galaxy

You’ve probably noticed the world outside of these pages improving. We’ve just passed the one-year mark for this global pandemic, but things are looking very bright and we can’t wait to come out on the other side of it with you. This month we’re shining a light on the amazing TNT show, Snowpiercer, which has just finished its second season, with momentum stronger than ever going into its third. The series features one of the best acting ensembles on television right now and we were lucky to snag a few of them for interviews. We have some other amazing features this month, as well as some recurring favorites. Our team has been growing as well with a few new editions who can’t wait to let their voices be heard by you in our community. This month will also finally see the launch of our brand new entertainment website, which is going to be an extension of the magazine, and vice versa. We truly appreciate everyone for making our magazine the number one magazine for this current age of the pop culture revolution. Thank you all for your undying love and support! It’s only uphill from here! I Love You All...

Galaxy Galaxy EDITOR-IN-CHIEF @ComicConRadio april 2021|

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table of contents

FEATURES

40 lena hall

36 snowpiercer

1,023 cars long

52 steven ogg


SPOILER MAGAZINE TABLE OF CONTENTS

58 mickey sumner

78 iddo goldberg

the watch 28 Zack Snyder’s Justice League

68 aleks paunovic



20 Top 15 Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s

12 KID 90 and the aching sadness of nostalgia

the base 88 at the movies

108 A Return to Comedy in the land of the free

INTERVIEWS 40 Lena Hall 52 Steven Ogg 58 Mickey Sumner 68 Aleks Paunovic

116 Comic Book Review www.spoilermagazine.com | Follow us on Instagram: @SpoilerMedia

78 Iddo Goldberg March 2020 |

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BY ETHAN BREHM

THE WORD “NOSTALGIA” LITERALLY TRANSLATES

to “homesickness” in Greek. As recently as the 19th century (and as early as the 17th), nostalgia was considered a psychological disease, most commonly affecting soldiers at war in another country, with many of them discharged and, in some instances in the Russian army during a 1733 outbreak, buried alive. These days, nostalgia is more of a blanket term for reminiscing about our past. What was once a niche and uncommon condition can now be seen everywhere we look, sprinkled all throughout our lives and fueling modern pop culture. Nostalgia can be triggered by things as small as an Instagram post about an old TV show or childrens’ toy, as mainstream as a song that employs an obvious ‘90s influence, or as personal as a photo album or home video

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from our own past. Perhaps it’s not that people today want to relive their past more than previous generations had, but that there are more outlets to alleviate some of these desires, albeit temporarily, and thus more of a culture forming around them. In many cases these longings can still definitely bring about a sort of depression and sadness, even though it seems like most people our age experience these feelings along with us. And so we realize that it’s that sharing of nostalgia that helps us to cope the most. “Are our memories real or are they the stories we wanna tell ourselves?” This is a main question that actress/ director Soleil Moon Frye poses, and the de facto proposition of her film Kid 90, a documentary that shows footage of her life during her

teen years, in the years following the wrapping of her popular sitcom Punky Brewster, in which she starred as the titular character. In the ‘90s, Frye carried around a video camera everywhere she went, and now, over 20 years later, she’s unboxed the footage and started compiling a sort of time capsule of the era. Becoming famous at a young age, the actress surrounded herself with a small little community of other child actors in Los Angeles. It was that group of kids where, at any time, any one of them would make it big. It consisted of Leonardo DiCaprio (who serves as executive producer on this film), David Arquette, Stephen Dorff, Brian Austin Green, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jenny Lewis, Mark Wahlberg, Jonathan Brandis, and many, many others. She talks with some of them now in between showing footage from back then, wondering why they value their past so much even though a lot of it was riddled with tragedy. “It feels like we were losing a friend every week,” laments one star, referring to the alarming rate of suicides by young actors during that era—ironically a former side effect of nostalgia back when it was still considered a disorder. Being a kid is tough, but being a kid actor is like having the burden of expectations of an adult, but without the maturity and confidence to deal with them. There’s pressure to keep a certain youthful image despite wanting and developmentally needing to make the mistakes that every kid makes. Even despite these stresses, it’s still nice when everyone loves you and knows who you are, but then there’s a loneliness that sets in once that’s all over.


Kid 90/Soleil Moon Frye/Hulu/Jurassic Park/Universal/Men in Black/Sony/Marvel/Batman/DC Comics/Power Rangers/Hasbro

Our memories are funny. As we grow into adulthood, we come to an inevitable point where we’re separated enough from our youth and adolescence, and able to think back and wish that we were there again. Life as an adult is tough, and as the deluge of stresses and responsibilities piles up, we have a tendency to wish that things were simpler again. However, time has an interesting way of putting these memories into order; getting rid of the bad and justifying the sad. It may speak more to how, as kids unable to process pain correctly, we found ways back then to wrap our heads around tragedy and make sense of certain realities. Does this mean that only those who had ideal childhoods are overcome with nostalgia? Not at all. In fact, many of us were faced with some terrible obstacles as kids, whether it be divorce, abuse, depression, bullying, unrealistic expectations—all things out of our control. Yet most of us today long for the mindset we had back then regardless—the same sense of hope, perhaps—rather than the actual time travel. Now, if only we were able to see back then that “this too shall pass”—that life does in fact get better—if only we could have told ourselves that, then maybe those obstacles wouldn’t have felt so despairing. Maybe those among us who thought about ending it all because of them would still be around today. We’re somehow all convinced that our teen years are our golden years, when in reality it only gets better when we start maturing and seeing other people and their issues. Looking back, it may feel like times were better, but how much can we

Is nostalgia more about a longing for the actual past or a desire to obtain the same hopeful outlook and naive mindset that we had back then?

see only in our memory? It’s just a highlight reel. But what happens when you’re able to take off those rose-colored glasses and actually look back behind you? By unearthing her collection of old videos and recordings, Frye is able to do just that as she digs through her past and experiences, in a way, what things were actually like, undistorted. Before home videos were ubiquitous like they are today, people weren’t constantly putting on an act whenever the cameras were rolling. Chances are, nobody would ever really watch this footage again, and there would definitely be no chance of the entire world having access to it. Because of this, behavior and dialogue was much more candid and frank. Most of the people in Frye’s videos are very much acting like themselves—for better or worse. Early on in the film Frye talks about having an amazing childhood and how she wanted to hold onto that youth while everyone around her was forcing her into adulthood—a big reason for her highly-publicized breast reduction—but then later on she says how she so desperately wanted to be mature. This really appears to be a contradiction at first, but the more we think about it, we realize that so is nostalgia.

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So is nostalgia more about a longing for the actual past or a desire to obtain the same hopeful outlook and naivety that we had back then? It’s not necessarily a desire to change our current reality, but simply a romanticized obsession with life in a simpler form; merely to view the world through the eyes of your younger self. Like we’ve discussed, adolescence is not usually a piece of cake, unless we merely view it as an absence of the pressures of adulthood. Perhaps some of us just need to look to the past as a way to find comfort in where we’ve gotten to today. Frye’s experiment is a thoughtprovoking one as it stands on its own, but the actress is also able to analyze what she’s learned from the experience and how she can apply it to her life today, even if that’s never really conclusive. The director doesn’t always do a great job comparing her actual memories with what she sees in the footage—a major theoretical topic of discussion. She’s showing these videos to us in full view, yet at times it’s difficult to see them as more than simply presentational. As an audience, it’s interesting listening to her perspective as a teen and now seeing how it’s evolved, but we do wish there were more of a concrete purpose or structure to her themes.

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Yet still, Kid 90 operates as a time capsule of sorts, not averse to maintaining a natural narrative, but also never searching for one. It doesn’t really have to. There’s a story at play, but the film isn’t really about that story as much as it is an experience of Frye’s memory compared to the reality that she actually lived through; a glimpse into the past, and one person’s perspective on that look back—her thoughts on how these events have impacted her approach to life now. We don’t necessarily feel changed because of the shared experience, but we do feel like this experience is worth watching. The application for the audience comes naturally, even though it’s a lot of pensiveness and pontificating more than it is a story with a natural trajectory or conclusion. I suppose this fits into Frye’s commentary about our brain’s tendencies to organize real events into these little narratives so we can better make sense of them. Life isn’t a cinematic story as much as we want it to be, and so the director—

We’re somehow all convinced that our teen years are our golden years, when in reality it only gets better when we start maturing and seeing other people and their issues.


Kid 90/Soleil Moon Frye/Hulu/Trey Trimble/Nintendo

whether intentionally or not—has made it so her film also doesn’t quite follow a standard three-act structure. However, if we’re putting these stories into a documentary presentation and applying form and purpose to them, then our mind’s narrative tendencies do become expectation. The film is hardly ever able to find anything to ground itself in other than its themes of nostalgia— however huge and relatable those may be. Frye shares with us her actual past, but presents the footage in a way that occasionally feels disjointed and plotless, albeit linear. The filmmaker looks at the past as a roadmap to where she’s gotten to in the present (and this is really her intended theme of the movie), but almost never shows us or talks about that place where she ends up. She reminisces with old friends about the good ol’ days and analyzes the amount of truth in their memories, but nothing ever feels resolved, or even almost so. Yet that may very well be the point. It’s rarely more than an exercise in nostalgia, albeit an interesting one at that. Kid 90 is definitely cathartic for Frye, but the film only really soars when it’s able to connect to its viewers—many of whom lived through the turbulent and oftconfusing ‘90s—and makes us apply its ideas to our own past. It helps

that the audience likely recognizes many familiar faces along the way. If this were the same film but from the tapes of someone we’ve never met, the journey wouldn’t hold as much weight or relevance, or be nearly as enjoyable in its current execution. Frye doesn’t usually name names, so oftentimes we’re piecing things together ourselves, which wouldn’t really work as well if we didn’t have a ‘90s pop culture frame of reference to begin with. However, Kid 90 is also about the bittersweet transitions in life—the inevitable loss of innocence—and the chapters we go through and don’t even notice until years later looking back. The more thoughtprovoking, and at times fun, aspect of reminiscing is realizing how important certain people or events

watch kid 90, out now on hulu

were back then, and how we never fully appreciated them until later on. On the other hand, the hard part about revisiting our past is realizing that perhaps life wasn’t as great back then as we remembered it being. But also there are things that were just that great. We look back at our own memories and there’s a beauty there. No matter how bad our lives actually were, our minds always seem to focus on these glimmers of hope, played back in our heads over the oneiric sounds of The Cranberries or Oasis, unfolding with sensibilities of a conventional narrative rather than actual reality. And with conventional narrative usually comes a wrappedup denouement. Frye postulates that if actually going back means that we end up becoming disillusioned by what we perceived as a better time, then is it really worth going back in the first place? Are the lessons we learn in the process worth that disillusionment? Or are we better off with these things serving as mere memories? But one thing is for certain: Reminiscing is much more therapeutic when we have someone who we can talk about it with.

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(1973)

(1993)

(2011)

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American Graffiti

Stand By Me Dazed and Confused

The Sandlot

Now and Then

Hot Tub Time Machine

Midnight in Paris

Brigsby Bear

Jasper Mall

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(1986)

(1995)

(2017) (2010)

(2020)

American Graffiti/Universal/Stand By Me/Columbia Pictures/Dazed and Confused/Gramercy Pictures/The Sandlot/20th Century Studios/Disney/Now and Then/New Line Cinema/ Hot Tub Time Machine/MGM/Midnight in Paris/Woody Allen/Brigsby Bear/Sony Pictures Classics/Jasper Mall/Amazon/Bradford Thomason/Brett Whitcomb/

other movies about nostalgia

(1993)


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BY ROBERT NAPOLITANO

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13

lucy

READY PLAYER ONE

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

(2014)

(2018)

(2015)

When it comes to badass women kicking butt on the big screen, few can even hold a candle to Scarlett Johansson. She’s the driving force behind this film about what it would be like if we could use our full brain capacity and how dangerous that could be. Dangerous to others? Sure, considering the harm she causes bad guys who have wronged her, but more importantly the danger it is to ourselves. This film comes in as a huge hit-or-miss to most casual viewers and that’s totally fair, but the action is great and Johansson is at her best. Whether you’ve seen it before or not, watching this now is a good way to get psyched for Black Widow, the long-awaited standalone film for one of cinema’s best Avengers.

This is a film clearly aimed for the youth and future generations, while at the same time utilizing all types of nostalgia to make its ode to the ‘80s a worthwhile trip down memory lane. Like many films on this list, it is sure to make you question what the future has in store for us. That’s a topic we can think about until we’re blue in the face, but the use of virtual reality, something many of us still don’t know a ton about but realize it’s here to stay, makes Ready Player One feel more like a futuristic adventure than a scientifically fictional one. I guess that’s part of Spielberg’s brilliance.

I’ll admit that I don’t view this as the flawless masterpiece many critics claim it to be, but Fury Road is still an undeniably fantastic piece of cinema that appeals to almost any type of audience. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy are the perfect duo for this dystopian road flick, and while the film stands on its own without them, it’s hard to imagine any other actors fitting those roles the way these two do. Mel Gibson’s Mad Max character set an extremely high bar back in the day in the first three installments in George Miller’s acclaimed franchise. Even though Fury Road may not have eclipsed that bar, this fourth entry still deserves credit for its set design and action-packed, adrenaline-fueled narrative. If you’re a junkie for any kind of action movie, this one was made for you.

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Lucy/Universal/Ready Player One/Warner Bros./Mad Max: Fury Road/Roadshow Entertainment/

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Warner Bros./Source Code/Summit Entertainment/Inception/Warner Bros./Life/Sony

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10

SOURCE CODE

inception

life

(2011)

(2010)

(2017)

There are all types of time travel films—plenty of great ones—but few really separate themselves from the pack. This one is interesting because it toes the line between iconic and run-of-the-mill. It’s not gonna crack the top ten of its genre by any stretch, but falls into that 5% of time travel films that just annihilate the rest. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character doesn’t travel through time by year or decade, but relives the same sequence over and over again like a puzzle or riddle that doesn’t stop until he finally figures it out. Even then it proves that some things in life aren’t black and white. We all have those memories we play back in our heads from time to time and imagine how things would’ve gone had we acted differently. That’s part of the fun on these types of time loop movies, knowing sadly we’ll never get that chance in real life, but can still live vicariously through these characters.

I get the feeling Christopher Nolan loves creating confusion. Maybe that’s not his intention, but I can’t imagine he’d do it just for his health. And I’ll be damned if I ever go to see one of his films and don’t expect one hell of a brain twist. The filmmaker is able to make audiences think in ways they never thought they would, and he does it time and time again while keeping us thoroughly entertained for two to three hours at a time. I wouldn’t rank Inception as his best film, but it probably does the best job of exemplifying the type of visionary Nolan is. This generational film is definitely not for everybody, and if the idea of being in a dream of a dream of another person’s dream is confusing, then I’ll warn you: That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For Nolan’s talent and mind, along with this all-star cast, Inception deserves at least one chance, but probably needs two.

This sure as hell isn’t the first, and damn sure wasn’t the last space horror movie we’ll ever see. Space horror is essentially a genre of its own at this point, but while most over the years have become riddled with tropes and derivative plots that are played out, Life is able to stand out with its strong cast, witty characters, and best of all, an ending that truly transforms this film from space exploration to potentially apocalyptic. Ryan Reynolds delivers the laughs, Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal the heart, and the alien(s) the horror. Aside from its ending nothing may necessarily jump out as unforgettable, but this is just a fun, solid watch for 105 minutes. When that 106th minute hits though... sh*t gets real.

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PLANET OF THE APES REBOOT TRILOGY (2011 - 2017) This entire reboot/prequel trilogy is an absolute must-see for sci-fi fans. The film series has been around for over 50 years, beginning with the iconic 1968 original. They’re a staple in the sci-fi movie genre whether you’re talking about the most recent installments or the preceding pentalogy from the ‘60s and ‘70s. 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes is my favorite of the new series simply because I just love a good origin story, but you can’t go wrong with any one of them. I remember seeing installments from the original franchise as a kid and thinking they were kinda cool, but at the same time ridiculous and over the top. After seeing the latest trilogy, I have to admit, apes taking over the world one day sounds insane, obviously, but I won’t rule it out.

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7

THE MARTIAN

A QUIET PLACE

(2015)

(2018)

This is the Silver Surfer of astronauts: A man stranded in space and left to feel completely on his own. This is a film like Cast Away, Moon, and Buried in the sense that it’s basically one character we’re along on this journey with as we watch him slowly self-destruct. These are films and characters we consistently connect with and we can’t help it. Even the most social butterfly has periods in their life where they feel all alone. It’s those universal feelings of loneliness and self-realization that make these movies work so well. With a superb filmmaker like Ridley Scott leading the way, slide an actor of Matt Damon’s caliber into the lead and you have a can’t-miss engagement.

I’m an advocate for the idea of “show, don’t tell” in any type of storytelling medium, but I was still skeptical of the effectiveness of this sort of silent horror film before I watched it. But being a fan of John Krasinski and his wife/co-star Emily Blunt I wanted to at least give it a chance. Helming a visually-driven “silent” movie about a family struggling to survive in extremely strenuous circumstances, Krasinski, who also co-writes and stars in the film, wanted this to show the extremes a man would go to in order to protect his family. You don’t need a single word or sound to feel that emotional drive through the screen.

Planet of the Apes/The Martian/20th Century Studios/A Quiet Place/Paramount Pictures/

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Logan/20th Century Studios/Marvel/Looper/TriStar Pictures/Blade Runner 2049/Warner Bros.

6

5

4

logan

LOOPER

BLADE RUNNER 2049

(2017)

(2012)

(2017)

Since Deadpool doesn’t fit into this list, as it’s more of a comedic crime-noir, Marvel’s Logan will serve to represent the quality R-rated superhero film that manchildren like myself have been wanting to see since we were little kids. Fans believed for years that it would work and finally we’re starting to see grittier projects that are actually really good. There’s just something dope about comic books and comic book movies that don’t have to hold back. Who says comics always have to be for children? Thanks to Logan (and Deadpool) we no longer have to wonder if we’re right because the box office numbers and Oscar nominations are all the proof the industry needs.

Time travel movies are usually pretty tricky. They can start out interesting, but then one small wrong turn and the next thing you know the audience is totally lost. There are rules and guidelines to time travel and even though each film kind of makes its own, they still need to make sense in order to work. This might be why a lot of movies that use time travel elements today either resort to a comedic approach or simply mock the rules that films like Back to the Future have laid out for us. Looper works so well, not only because it’s a fresh blend of time travel and criminal violence, but because it proves that audiences and fans of the genre can still be lead to believe an outcome is inevitable, just to be flipped in the end and thrown for a “loop.”

One of the longest-awaited sequels of all time, Blade Runner 2049 unexpectedly manages to live up to its hype. Visually stunning and arguably one of the most beautiful movies ever shot, it also delivers on its stunning action sequences and inventive futuristic technology. With a runtime of 2 hours and 44 minutes, it can definitely drag, but it’s a film that’s physically hard to look away from, especially for those fortunate enough to see this in theaters. Ryan Gosling kicks ass and Harrison Ford reprises his iconic role of Rick Deckard, thrilling fans of the 1982 original. However, Blade Runner 2049 can also be appreciated as a standalone film.

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2

EX MACHINA (2014) You can sit back, watch, and enjoy Ex Machina, not realizing until it’s over that the futuristic premise was not only mindnumbingly possible, but probably much closer to reality than we’d all like to think. This is a hard one to talk about without giving much away, and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so if you have any interest in the science field, more specifically artificial intelligence, then just go and check this movie out ASAP. It’s sketchy and a real think piece, leaving you not knowing what the hell to think, but I’m yet to meet a single person who’s watched Ex Machina and told me they didn’t find it fascinating.

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guardians of the galaxy (2014) It’s extremely rare these days for a new superhero movie to come out and really change the game. It happens, but not often. Guardians of the Galaxy not only changed the game, but reinvented the wheel. A blend of Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, this lesser-known superhero universe had people of all ages quickly falling in love with it, thanks to the help of probably one of the most beloved soundtracks of all time. A strong script and a solid cast are musts, but this film proved that audiences can fall in love with obscure superheroes they’ve never heard of just as easily as they can with the same old Batman or Spider-Man, who we’ve seen save the day countless times already.

1

SNOWPIERCER (2014) Surprised? Don’t be. This is more than your typical sci-fi thriller about post-apocalyptic societies. Bong Joon-ho’s film is an instant sci-fi classic for a variety of reasons, my favorite being the way it dives headfirst into classism and our desire to survive, even if we don’t know what’s in store if our plans ultimately come to fruition. Following a train that carries the last remnants of humanity following a failed attempt at climate engineering, the film is hard to dissect without giving anything away, and touches on various issues that humans are forced to live with whether we ever end up on the cusp of the apocalypse or not. At our core, we are all mefirst creatures, self-preserving at all costs. Human depictions and emotions like this are what make it easy for audiences to connect with a film, separating the average from the bad, and the good from the great. There’s an array of intriguing characters, and each one of them could have their own spin-off movie about how he or she ended up on the train. With the new Snowpiercer TV show on TNT, produced by Joon-ho, the ins and outs of this universe are able to be explored on an even grander level.

Ex Machina/A24/Guardians of the Galaxy/Marvel/Disney/Snowpiercer/CJ Entertainment

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BY ETHAN BREHM

the influential French New Wave movement, renowned film critics such as André Bazin and François Truffaut proposed and advocated for a concept called “auteur theory” which suggests that the director is the most important creative figure to a film’s success, and when a director’s creative control over the production is great enough, then the finished product will be a reflection of his vision outright. Directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and Jerry Lewis, who sought control of their movies, were among those who garnered praise for their authorship and realized vision. The French New Wave eventually inspired a New Wave in American cinema that gave rise to a whole new generation of filmmaking with more of a focus on director authorship rather than the more producer-driven one of the studio system of Hollywood’s Golden Age, which ultimately ended in the mid-’60s. While auteurs definitely still exist and thrive in today’s climate (Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, just to name a few), the rise of the Hollywood blockbuster since the mid-’70s has seen a greater increase in production, and therefore budgets. These days it seems like the larger a movie’s budget, the less creative control a director has (though not always). It kinda makes

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Justice League/HBO Max/Warner Bros./DC Comics

in the 1940s and ‘50s, just prior to the birth of

sense—the greater financial risk of a project means more micromanaging by the higher-ups. Despite perhaps falling too much into action film conventions (even if he’s the one who invented some of those conventions), Zack Snyder would definitely tick a lot of the auteur boxes for those old French cineastes. The director is nothing short of an auteur in spirit, and even intent. His definite filmmaking style and unique vision has been apparent since he jumped on the feature film scene back in 2004 with his worthy remake of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Since then he’s shown,

in glimpses, what he can achieve when he’s given the full reins, never more noticeably than with 2006’s historical epic 300, perhaps Snyder’s magnum opus prior to his most recent release (and his first foray into the comic book universe). In 300, every visual nuance felt like nothing we had seen ever before. The caricatured production design was visually stimulating, utilizing a limited tricolor palette of reds, browns, and silvers. He was able to create what I call a “snow globe movie” (where the entire film seems to take place inside a perfect little snow globe). The slow-motion


action sequences and lack of quickcuts helped turn the promising director into a marquee name. He had a distinct vision and we couldn’t wait to see what he would come out with next. Snyder’s comic book and video game sensibilities haven’t always translated well to the big screen throughout the years. His 2013 movie Man of Steel, despite being a serviceable action flick, saw the intrinsically sparkly nature of Superman seeming to contradict the director’s love affair with all things bleak and depressing. But the filmmaker has also been met with a lot of contention and pushback from studios who haven’t always been on board with his desire to tell a fully expansive story—an experience, if you will—as with 2009’s Watchmen or 2016’s disastrous Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or understood his darker and more angry approach to action, as in 2011’s Sucker Punch or 2017’s Justice League—a project where the studio, Warner Bros., was striving more for the idealized paradigm of Marvel’s Avengers. Justice League, written by Chris Terrio, was the third piece to a planned five-part film arc, and if you were reading between the lines, you could tell that Snyder had a vision from the get go. However, extensive rewrites at the request of Warner Bros. and a rushed release date due to a rumored merger with AT&T were signs that the project was doomed from the start. And then the death of Snyder’s daughter, Autumn, forced the director into a new perspective. He eventually stepped away from

The slow-motion action sequences and lack of quickcuts helped turn the promising director into a marquee name. He had a distinct vision and we couldn’t wait to see what he would come out with next.

the project to be with his family. Joss Whedon (director of Avengers) took over directorial duties, which led to even more rewrites and eventual reshoots. The studio was hoping for a brighter tone with more levity. Oh yeah, and they had a strict 2-hour cap on the runtime. How do you tell a story about trying to stop an evil tyrannical alien and his army of minions from conquering Earth and controlling the minds of its inhabitants in 2 hours or less, while also bringing together a particular unstoppable team of superheroes that has never been assembled before in live-action film history? Well, just look at the 2017 theatrical release of Justice League. It clocks in at exactly 120 minutes (including end credits) and only tells half of the story (literally), and

is never nearly as epic as it should have been considering the pretense. On the surface, the film introduces brand new characters hastily and haphazardly without giving them enough (or any) background, feeling like one giant montage as they get assembled together. On top of that, the lore behind the villains and their motives isn’t really explained either. Whedon “trims the fat” and largely relies on the audience’s blind acceptance of in-world truths and plot devices. Simply put, Justice League was a messy amalgamation of contrasting visions and studio meddling, and the audience could feel the lack of coherence. The DC fandom wanted more. In fact, they deserved more. When news got out that Snyder dropped out of the project and changes were made, speculation arose about a hypothetical “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. It started with an online campaign. Fans created petitions and #ReleaseTheSnyderCut began circulating on social media before any knowledge of an alternate version was made clear. Judging from his history with his director’s cuts (Watchmen and Batman v Superman)—usually fairing better than their respective theatrical releases—it felt like the existence of a Snyder Cut was inevitable. Finally in 2019, Snyder confirmed that his original cut did in fact exist and that the ball was now in Warner Bros.’ court. It was up to them if they april 2021|

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of a TV series on Netflix or Prime. Four hours is basically the same as cramming 4 or 5 episodes in a row on a Saturday afternoon. Television, however, is different in how it develops a story and its characters. In film, if we love or hate a character, we will know this by the time the film is over. In a series, on the other hand, our opinion about a character can potentially change from season to season, or even episode to episode. Nevertheless, the extensive runtime of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is completely warranted. The basic framework is the same between the two versions: After the death of Superman in the previous film, Batman and Wonder Woman need to assemble a team of heroes in order to prevent Steppenwolf and an evil alien empire from collecting the three Mother Boxes hidden on

Justice League/HBO Max/Warner Bros./DC Comics

wanted to release it. And so the fans stepped up their game, launching a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $20,000 for advertising during San Diego Comic Con to pressure Warner Bros. into releasing Snyder’s version, as well as another campaign that saw a pair of billboards in Times Square promoting the same cause. Members of the cast and crew also showed their support of Snyder’s original vision, and so, in the true spirit of the world of fandom, plans were set into motion for a 2021 release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League aka The Snyder Cut on HBO Max. Snyder’s version is double the length of the theatrical release (4 hours, 2 minutes), giving the ambitious story the weight and attention it deserves. A film about saving the world from destruction is a tall task in cinema, and still one we’ve seen time and time again in comic book movies, yet never with a runtime this long. $70 million dollars were spent on special effects, music scoring, editing, and the filming of a few new scenes. There aren’t many superhero films these days that are under 2 hours, and the ones that manage to do so feature much smaller stakes (Thor 1 and 2, both Ant-Man movies, and The Incredible Hulk come to mind). A four-hour movie on television in today’s climate isn’t a huge issue for those who are able to binge hours

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Earth. However, the Snyder Cut opens up this plot and allows it the chance to breathe. There are a lot of moving parts to the story, and the director breaks his film into eight chapters, including an intro and epilogue. There are actual backstories for the characters of Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman— three new heroes—adding an emotional weight to the conflict at hand and making these different subplots all feel connected, as well as the characters within them. It’s logical to assume that any improvement on the original will be received with even slightly more open arms. Snyder could have just added more backstory and called it a day, and still this would have been better than what we got back in 2017. Nevertheless, the filmmaker fixes all the overt issues from the theatrical release, but also makes some changes we didn’t know we needed. Action sequences are improved upon for coherence, and expanded without becoming too drawn out. Snyder has always been an accomplished action director, so these changes are in good hands. With his signature brand of violence, the PG-13 rating has been changed to an R-rating. The comedy is still present, but


Snyder’s version is double the length of the theatrical release (4 hours, 2 minutes), giving the ambitious story the weight and attention it deserves

somehow feels less jarring here as the jokes flow a little more fluidly within the dialogue. In the studio’s original attempt to inject their theatrical cut with humor and charm, it actually made the finished product dull and lifeless. Here, Snyder imbues his movie with a personality that’s more rooted in plot invention and character rather than one-liners, yet still manages to be funnier. There are some nice surprises in the story down the road with a climax that’s undeniably more deserved, and a triple-whammy ending, which I wouldn’t even think of spoiling. It’s also important to mention that everything that’s good in the theatrical version is preserved in this one, including the thrilling bank sequence with Wonder Woman (also given a nice plus-up here). Director’s cuts can often feel overlong and self-indulgently thorough. Fortunately for Snyder, the theatrical version was anything but thorough. Here, the filmmaker could perhaps be accused of being extravagant, but never excessive. The expansion adequately matches the ambitions of the project and somehow fits. The new 4:3 aspect ratio—

something no superhero movie has ever done—harkens back to the Golden Age of Cinema’s standard “Academy Ratio” (1:37:1), allowing the at-home viewer to actually see more of the frame than if it were to play in a movie theater (which would have to trim the top and bottom to fit the picture onto the wider screen) since this is how Snyder shot the movie in the first place. The proportions, which favor verticality over breadth of landscape, actually make the heroes look bigger on screen and add an important touch of magnitude to the finished product. It’s clear now that the director had a very precise vision for his movie— one that got thrown out in favor of more expected conventions. The Snyder Cut is not just a doubled version of an unfavorable film. No. The theatrical release of Justice League was flawed because Snyder’s original vision was taken into an entirely new direction. The Snyder Cut is that original vision. The film still abides by a standard threeact structure, with a thrilling and cinematic storyboarding that’s paced almost immaculately, never dragging or belaboring the point. Now with

an appropriate level of epicness, intense moments have more weight and we’re actually on the edge of our seat. This new four-hour movie is fun, lively, and truly exciting. Yet the film isn’t without its flaws. It occasionally falls into comic book tropes such as generic battle scenes, despite the improvements upon the ones from the theatrical release, or an overuse of dei ex machina. Also, the more balanced pacing creates confusing levels of urgency in the third act. However, there’s nothing from the theatrical release that was altered for the worse here, and we will undoubtedly take the bad with the great. The Snyder Cut is very much journey- and mythos-driven, with things like character development taking somewhat of a backseat (compared to most Marvel films, which are insanely character-driven). However, in a film like Justice League, it’s that very mythology that matters most, especially when introducing a few new heroes in the process. We learn just enough about them to care, but not too much where they become the central focus or detract from the overarching story or the other heroes involved. In fact, it’s when there is focus on the charms of the characters—such as with Barry Allen/The Flash and his witticism—

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Much like 300, Snyder’s biggest goal with his own Justice League is building the lore, as though you were being told the tale through oral tradition perhaps.

where the film hits an incongruous bump. Much like 300, Snyder’s biggest goal with his own Justice League is building the lore, as though you were being told the tale through oral tradition perhaps. Bedtime stories often omit specific jokes or one-liners told by their heroes, rather focus on things like what those heroes did: breaking their own personal rules about running faster than the speed of light in order to save humanity, or going beyond reason to have faith in the success of their compatriots, thus letting them have the glory instead. These are the ideas that Snyder typically holds of greatest importance in his films, and one that massively succeeds here despite having almost none of the aesthetic or charismatic approach of a Marvel movie. That’s not to say that changes weren’t made to develop the heroes involved. Even Superman (Henry Cavill) is given more depth here than he does in his previous two appearances in this canon. In the 2017 film, the focus was heavily placed on waking his character from the dead rather than assembling the team and storyboarding the rest of the plot. But here, his appearance feels like more than just a stunt and meshes better with its surroundings while simultaneously having more importance tacked onto it. Ben Affleck is great in his “swan song” appearance as Bruce Wayne/Batman (Affleck is still taking part in a multiverse version of the Caped Crusader in 2022’s The Flash along with Michael Keaton). The actor might not be the biggest takeaway from the plot, but his character’s level-headedness grounds the film in a big way and Affleck finally gets a chance to really shine in the role. The least explored character is Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), but fortunately we have two other movies (and more coming) that adequately do so. Perhaps most notably, we get exploration into the three new heroes involved. Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), a former high school football star, suffered lifethreatening injuries and was saved by his scientist father who harnessed the powers of one of the three Mother Boxes to turn him into the greatest and quickest computer hacker/manipulator in the universe. Allen (Ezra Miller), who’s trying to pay his way through college by working dead-end job after dead-end job, hopes to exonerate his father who’s been wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of his mother. With his lightning-speed, we get a pretty awesome scene with him saving a girl from a car accident, as well as some other


Justice League/HBO Max/Warner Bros./DC Comics

character-building moments. Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is an apathetic fish-man who’s the rightful ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, however he rejects all ties with that world. He also declines Wayne’s offer to help in the cause to stop Steppenwolf. The Snyder Cut not only develops these three characters more, but gives them each a very important role in the team’s quest for victory. 2017’s theatrical version of Justice League was so void of charm and coherence that any changes made would have been welcomed no matter what, but Snyder crafts an absolute superhero epic. Reminiscent of some of the most iconic sagas in film history, not just in length but with its even storytelling and befitting bravado, The Snyder Cut isn’t just great—it’s one of the best comic book movies to come out during this current Golden Age of Superheroes. What was once considered just a pipe dream is now going to be looked at as a gamechanger moving forward in the genre in terms of scope and expectation. It’s definitely not Avengers, but we would never want it to be. As far as the director is concerned, it’s undeniably the best effort of his

career, and validation of not only his vision, but his creative prowess. This is a very big win for Snyder and it makes audiences and fans lament what could have been of his final two planned films—but only if he were able to do it his way. Fortunately the DC Extended Universe has been able to pump out a couple successes in the years since Justice League, proving that 2017’s Wonder Woman wasn’t just an outlier. Even if you’re not a fan of the 2020 film, Birds of Prey saw a stylish and concise vision. And 2018’s Aquaman, with James Wan at the helm, had been arguably the DCEU’s best endeavor yet prior to this latest release. However, with the success of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the future of the DCEU is bright. Even if they didn’t want to admit it, Warner Bros. seems to have realized that the answer may be in simply trusting their director—and buying more into auteur theory perhaps. With the vast contrast between Snyder’s version and the theatrical one, the world can also now see the importance of the artist’s role in the finished product. Now if only we can get a filmed version of Colin Trevorrow’s Dual of the Fates… Watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max. april 2021|

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SPOILER MAGAZINE

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BY ETHAN BREHM

there may be no better show to simultaneously

convey confined claustrophobia and immense breadth than TNT’s Snowpiercer, as the series’ epic 10-milelong train has become crowded with an entire civilization within its steel walls. Set seven years after a failed geoengineering attempt at cooling Earth’s atmosphere, thus rendering the entire planet uninhabitable as an icy wasteland, Snowpiercer takes place entirely on a 1,001-car luxury train that circles the globe at high speeds, carrying the remaining survivors as its perpetual motion generates energy to heat the passengers and keep itself going. The series is based in equal parts on the highly successful 2013 film of the same name, directed by Bong Joon-ho, and the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacque Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette, from which the film was adapted. With Joon-ho on board as an executive producer, the series is much different from the movie and really taps into the nuances of the story, and, because

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of its medium, can explore every character and delve into the dynamics of each relationship. It reboots the film’s continuity and heavily deals with the same ideas on class warfare and what different people will do to survive, but has the time to really build upon these ideas in a big way. The cast lineup boasts some impressive names to say the least, and that list gets even longer with season 2, which just concluded and was even bigger and more epic than its predecessor, leaving us with a few cliffhangers to ruminate on. And now, a show that had been in development hell in the years prior to its release is unstoppable by even the current global pandemic. Filming for season 3 commenced last month and is expected to wrap in July. Hopefully Snowpiercer will be on for at least another 3 or 4 seasons. With a vast array of interesting characters, there are so many more stories to tell. We can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media


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Lena Hall is a Renaissance woman. With early roots in the ballet world as a young girl, she has since carved out a career for herself as an accomplished actress of both stage and screen, as well as a successful singer. Getting her start on Broadway in Cats, Lena eventually starred in Hedwig and the Angry Itch, which earned her a Tony award for the role of Yitzhak. Now with her first series regular role on television, the actress has

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become a fan favorite on Snowpiercer as Miss Audrey, the madam of the Night Car. The show perfectly utilizes the uniqueness of her talents, tapping into her versatility as an entertainer. Whether it be a ballet sequence or musical numbers, the theatrical aesthetic of the series is really put into her hands and she’s truly become the heartbeat of the show. Lena’s joie de vivre is so apparent when speaking with her, and hopefully that liveliness is able to show through in the pages of this interview as well. The actress gives us a peek behind the curtain of the oft-toxic world of ballet and how some of that trauma has helped inform the pain of Miss Audrey. She also talks to us about why she doesn’t use her birth name professionally anymore, as well as the late Jonathan Brandis’ role in catalyzing her career in film and television.

Lena Hall/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM


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interview interview

lena hall SPOILER: Snowpiercer is becoming an iconic series. You’re amazing on that show, and I know everyone’s loving you on it. Is it weird for you when you get that kind of praise? LENA HALL: Thank you! It’s always good to take a compliment because we’re far too ready to take someone’s criticism seriously, but we’re never ready to openly take a compliment. It’s an odd part of human nature, like getting a compliment is a bad thing and taking criticism is what we have to take seriously—it’s silly and should be the opposite. I grew up in the ballet world, so I’m hypercritical of myself and it’s very difficult for me to take a compliment, but I’m happy to take them [laughs]. I worked really hard to get to where I am, and I don’t wanna lessen that work that I’ve put in, so I appreciate the compliments. But what do you say? “Thank you, know”? [laughs] No, of course not. But I will say, “Thank you so much.” I’m very proud of the work I’ve been doing. This is my very first series regular on a show and I’ve learned a lot just from doing it. There’s a big learning curve between each episode, and I’ve had the fortunate circumstance of learning from the best. My scene partners are frickin’ Jennifer Connelly and Sean Bean and this incredible cast. They put me more at ease and I’ve been able to learn a lot from them. It’s just been a great learning experience and seeing how far I can push myself to tell a story. I’ve had to do some very difficult things for my character Miss Audrey that were hard for me to do and I’ve never done before, so they’ve really been stretching my acting. SPOILER: Who in the cast makes you the most nervous? LENA HALL: Jennifer Connelly! First of all, Labyrinth—one of my all-time favorite films. I’m a huge David Bowie fan and I’ve covered a ton of his music. I did a cover of one of the songs in Labyrinth. And it’s so silly because I’m fangirling, but I’m trying to be cool, and I can’t ever figure out what to say to her. I’m not myself when Jennifer Connelly is around because I’m like, “I don’t wanna be a moron around her.” I never really got to know her very well because I

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lena hall

SPOILER: You had this amazing ballet scene on the show, and you get to do all these other theatrical things. What do you have to do to get into the mindset of Miss Audrey? LENA HALL: I was a ballerina when I was a kid and I grew up on stage. My father was a choreographer and my mom was a prima ballerina. My dad had a company and I was literally born to dance [laughs], so that’s actually a comfort zone. When we filmed the scene, the ballet, for Miss Audrey, that was a deeply personal moment. When I read that in the script, I said, “Do you have a choreographer for this scene?” and they said, “No.” I said, “Can my dad choreograph this?” And they said, “Yes.” So I ended up getting to work with my dad, and it became a much more personal scene, and became extraordinarily layered. My father is almost 90-years-old, and it felt like it was maybe the last time I was going to be able to dance for him or do something like this. So the fact that they allowed that put a whole other level into it. For me, that scene felt so comfortable because it’s how I grew up, expressing myself through physicality. And when we filmed it, it was just me and the DP. And we filmed it for, like, 9 hours. I remember getting extremely sore. My feet were

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Lena Hall/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Getty/AP

could never hold a conversation [laughs]. I wanted to ask her all of these questions and tell her about my cover song. But I had to keep my cool. When we had that scene in season 1, I’m like, “I hope she doesn’t think I’m a damn hack!” We were doing that scene at four in the morning and she was amazing, just delivering over and over again. I also can’t put together a good sentence for Sean Bean as well. We’ve done scenes together and have a little bit of a bond, but I still get nervous around him. Daveed [Diggs], not so much. He’s like my sibling. We’re Broadway folks. He’s so funny. We get along so well—him, Mickey [Sumner], Alison [Wright], we’re so cool together. And then Jennifer or Sean comes around and I’m like, “Oh my God!”

hurting. But while filming it was like a duet with me and the camera, and it became a duet and not a solo number. That was an incredible experience. And also the singing—doing those live performances, that’s another place where I’m extraordinarily comfortable. I’ve been performing for thousands of people. The more people in the audience, the more comfortable I am. It’s easy, it’s a connection, it’s home, it’s the way I have my most cathartic moments.

It’s almost like a meditation for me when I sing for an audience. But as far as acting in scenes, that’s very hard. Because you do have these very intimate moments, like me and Wilford in the bathtub or in the private room. As an actor, I was taught to take from the most personal moments in your life and apply those feelings to the moments that you’re conveying. So I’ve never harmed myself in the bathtub for someone [laughs], but I had to figure out, “What does this mean? What


pain am I drawing on? What in my own life would bring me back to that emotional state?” So to have to do that and have a camera person there in your face getting a closeup shot, that’s much harder for me [laughs]. The set of skills used for being on stage as opposed to being on camera is vastly different. And just being nervous because I’m working with someone like Sean Bean, I don’t want him to think I’m an idiot! I want him to respect me. SPOILER: Isn’t it great that Sean Bean is on the show this season? His character elevates season 2 to another level. LENA HALL: I love it! He’s so awesome and so fun to work with. The minute I got into a room with him we bonded. It was instant respect. If someone doesn’t respect you it’s really hard to work with them because it’s an uphill battle. But if you have mutual respect it becomes very easy to have chemistry, where you’re both being reactionary with each other. You’re not trying to control a scene, but allowing it to take place and unfold in front of you. [When I sing] I get to show vulnerability on stage, but it’s different. The audience is further away from you. They’re not seeing your deep inner thoughts in your eyes. On film it’s far more personal and real. After we filmed the bathtub scene, I felt like I needed

to go to a therapist to talk through the grief I just went through and the trauma of that. It’s a lot more difficult to get into that headspace for film, but the great thing about film is it’s always there for you to look at. And how it all comes together is so beautiful. What they did for episode 4 was so beautiful. It was like a poem. I couldn’t believe I was the one they gave such a poetic storyline to.

SPOILER: Your musical numbers and big theatrical scenes are so impressive. I’m always waiting to see what you’re gonna do next. LENA HALL: I feel really lucky that they took a look at what I do. They did a deep dive into my past, like, “Oh, she’s a dancer? We’ll write that in!” SPOILER: You were on Cats on Broadway! Have you seen the movie? LENA HALL: I haven’t seen the movie, I won’t watch it. SPOILER: Don’t watch it, it’s silly. LENA HALL: Cats was my first Broadway show and I hold it in my mind in such a high regard. I did it for over two and a half years and had such a good time doing it. I still remember all the choreography, and it was over 20 years ago. So yeah, I can’t [watch it]. I don’t wanna taint those memories. I’m sad that they did the whole CGI thing. That’s bizarre. At the time, Cats was so different and so new and out there. It was cool. But to use CGI like that… I dunno. SPOILER: What got you into Broadway and acting? LENA HALL: It was kinda by default.

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SPOILER: Sidekicks… LENA HALL: Sidekicks is my all-time favorite movie! When I found out he passed away I looked for Sidekicks and Ladybugs on DVD—this was before streaming services. And everything was out of print, so I spent a fortune on eBay just to get them [laughs]. And I still have them! Along with the complete series of seaQuest DSV. SPOILER: Jonathan Brandis was such a great actor.

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LENA HALL: It’s really sad because I think if he had held on, he would be having a resurgence in his career right now. Again, mental health isn’t something we ever talk about, especially back in the day. It’s so important, especially someone who’s been in the limelight since they were a kid and doesn’t know anything else, and they’re having a downward cycle. The world has its ups and downs like a wave. And you ride that wave and just gotta hold on because you will find a resurgence and a new wave to ride. It’s tragic what happened to him. He’s the reason I pursued acting in the first place, and it’s such a bizarre thing to say, but it’s important to remember why you do this. It’s because I loved what he did and wanted to act with him—and wanted to be his wife [laughs]. SPOILER: I saw a picture yesterday of you and Michael C. Hall together. LENA HALL: [laughs] I love Michael C. Hall. We had so much fun together. People are like, “Are you guys married? Or brother and sister?” I’m like, “No.” If you look, “Hall” is my stage name. But he’s so epic. He’s so cool. Talk about mutual respect. When I got to do Hedwig and the Angry Itch with him, there were massive amounts of respect between the two of us. As someone who sat and watched the development of all of these Hedwigs, each one would come in with their own thoughts about it, and then it would change throughout their run and become something a little different than what they walked in doing. And I got to sit back and watch all of their metamorphoses. And I love all of my Hedwigs, but watching Michael C. Hall was incredible. There’s something about him. He’s got a very dark energy about him, and there’s something going on behind his eyes that’s a tragedy, and he brought that to his performance so beautifully and wonderfully. He’s an amazing actor and I want to work with him again so badly. We were fully simpatico on that stage. When you just vibe with someone it’s an interesting experience. It was like we

Lena Hall/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

I had no choice as far as ballet was concerned. I didn’t wanna do ballet anymore, but my parents wanted me to stay in the arts somehow. My sister was doing musical theater, so I went and joined this teen musical theater company that she was doing and continued dancing until I was out of high school. In high school I didn’t know what I wanted. I thought maybe I’d be an accountant because I was good at math. And then I thought, “I’m good at science, so maybe I’ll do psychology.” And then I was kinda interested in law a little bit. I didn’t really know. I was aiming more for quote-unquote “normal” jobs, because I didn’t really see myself as a professional performer. It just felt like a dream that was so far away. I didn’t have a knowledge of the business at all. My parents supported me in that they wanted me to be in the arts, but they didn’t know about the theater business— they just knew about ballet. So then I graduated from high school at 17. I didn’t even take the SATs. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. Then Cats came to town and a friend of mine said I should audition. So I went down with my audition book and auditioned, and they cast me. And that’s how my career path started. Although when I was younger I had always wanted to do TV and movies. Theater was always part of my life, so it didn’t really feel like a dream. As a pre-teen I wanted to be on TV [laughs] because I had a crush on Jonathan Brandis, and I wanted to marry him [laughs]. I was obsessed with the series seaQuest DSV.


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lena hall knew each other before. Sometimes there’s a learning curve, but with Michael it was instant. SPOILER: I love your name. I understand why you have a stage name, but it’s so beautiful. LENA HALL: [laughs] You’ll see me on the streets busking and I’ll be like, “And thank you so much! My name is Celina Consuela Gabriella Carvajal and I’m here for your entertainment!” Look, it was an interesting decision to come to. My real name is amazing—although I did find out some interesting secrets about it. I had held onto my real name for a long time, and my problem wasn’t the name, but that I was being seen for the wrong roles because of my name. I’m Spanish-Filipino, but when you look at me I don’t look like I’m Spanish-Filipino, and for castingsake, I’d walk into a room and not be what they were expecting to see, even though they had a picture of me right in front of them, they couldn’t hold the two together. They were expecting the name walking into the room, and instead they got the picture. And also I was in a rock band as well, and I was playing around with names. But I had held onto my birth name for a really long time. I came from seven generations of artists of Carvajals in the Philippines, and I was holding onto my name because there was this epic legacy. But then I came to find out that Carvajal was

actually a stage name and our real last name was Garcia. So I was like, “Oh, okay, so my ancestors would actually be okay with me changing my name so I could do more in the arts.” So I felt a sudden support there that I wasn’t actually forsaking my name. SPOILER: In season 2 of Snowpiercer, what other scene besides the bathtub scene drained you the most?

LENA HALL: Episode 4 was the most difficult for me to film. It was just an emotional episode. You learn a lot about Miss Audrey’s past and a lot about what makes her 48 I

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tick. And you learn that she was very, very vulnerable. But after that, there’s a scene in episode 7, but I’m not gonna give it away [laughs]. But I will say that she goes through a massive transformation in the span of the scene, and it takes her from one extreme to another. I just watched episodes 9 and 10 last night, and lemme tell ya… I was like, “I know what’s gonna happen, and yet I’m still on the edge of my seat!” I’m so proud!


lena hall

Lena Hall/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

SPOILER: Do you like watching yourself on screen or does it make you feel uncomfortable? LENA HALL: I did an independent feature called Becks—you can watch it, it’s available on Showtime and Amazon. But there are scenes in that movie that I cannot watch because they’re very intimate scenes. I also have a hard time watching myself cry on camera. I get uncomfortable when I see myself being ultra vulnerable. It’s like I feel embarrassed for crying about something. That all harkens back to growing up in the ballet world where you have bloody toe shoes and a broken bone somewhere and you’re still dancing. I’ve poured blood out of my toe shoes before. The ballet world is very old school. It’s discipline that’s very tough on the people who are doing it. Give love to ballet dancers because they go through f**king hell. They have a high pain tolerance and are taught to dance through pain; to push your body to perfection. That’s why I was never gonna make it as a ballerina. I didn’t love it enough to get to that point. But I’m so impressed by dancers. SPOILER: Do you think it’s still like that? LENA HALL: I’m so out of that world so I can’t really speak to it, but I hope not. In ballet, you’re taught these things from a very young age, and so you believe that they’re true. The kids and students won’t speak up because it’s part of their training. They don’t know that it’s wrong to be pulled into a room and to be told they’re fat and they need to lose 10 pounds when they’re 11-years-old, and that becomes a lifelong issue— it becomes an eating disorder for them. So there are instances like that where it’s also mental abuse. It’s hard to know what’s going on in that world if you’re not in it. And it’s hard for a kid to discern what’s okay and what’s not. They won’t tell their parents or talk about feeling like it’s a bad thing. Again, in ballet as well, you’re taught, “Chin up, be strong, push through the pain.”

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lena hall SPOILER: I feel the lament in your voice, and you obviously bring out that pain in your performance on the show. LENA HALL: Thank you for that. A lot of that life informs Miss Audrey so heavily. SPOILER: Snowpiercer is amazing, are you excited about season 3? LENA HALL: The show is awesome. I’m proud of where it’s going and of how it’s doing. I couldn’t be more proud. SPOILER: Have you ever been to any comic conventions?

there’s screenplays—all kinds of stuff that comes out of what you love and comes out of Comic Con. I just think it’s amazing!

Lena Hall/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

LENA HALL: I love Comic Con [laughs]. I was at the San Diego one in 2019 and then I went to the New York one that year as well. But I love that it’s a community.

I was part of the “brony” community. I did My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I got to be a guest star and got to experience that community. It’s a wonderful community and it’s amazing to find like-minded people. I love the amount of creativity that comes out of the Con community. Not only are you lovers of what’s being produced out there professionally, but you’re also a group of people who take that as inspiration and create your own thing. There’s music being created, there’s artwork being created,

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inte inte INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM

The Canadian-born actor has made a name for himself as one of the best in the fandom world at crafting a character that audiences love to hate. In The Walking Dead he portrayed the ruthless and unpredictable Simon, and again in Westworld with his turn as the sadistic Rebus. However, his role of Pike in Snowpiercer is slightly adjacent. Pike is an escaped convict, sure, but the mercurial Tailie seems to be a bit more for his people, at least as long as it serves his own survival. While Pike isn’t a stereotypical antagonist, he’s just as morally ambiguous as Ogg’s most famous roles. Ogg, himself, is the exact opposite. A man of principles, the mordant actor isn’t afraid to speak his mind about how we should all just be kind to one another. After all, shouldn’t it just be that easy? A fan of civil discourse, he talks about the toxic nature of social media and how it’s potentially destroying our ability to just have a respectful debate. Known for his projects that feature notably large casts of characters, Steven always manages to stand out in every show he’s on, which is a testament to both his talent and charisma.

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Steven Ogg/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

Is there anyone you’d rather play your villain than Steven Ogg?


erview erview SPOILER: Is your iconic mustache a creation from The Walking Dead? STEVEN OGG: It’s a look that I’ve had since I was a child. I was born with an enormous mustache. I had an opportunity at the time to join a traveling circus, and I thought, “No, I wanna try other things and avoid the circus for now.” So I went into the other circus of acting. No, that’s obviously a lie [laughs]. This is dating myself, but going into a video store—and I could never decide. You go in, especially in New York—Kim’s Video was organized by director or color—it was awesome! You never know what you want, and then you leave and that night you realize six movies you wanna rent. That’s what happens to me in these interviews. You ask me a question I don’t know and then somewhere down the interview I tend to blend what really happened with what I imagined. So there’s the preface. The mustache happened because Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] had just been cast as Negan [on The Walking Dead], and he came in with facial hair. So I think that initially it came from, “Who gets to keep the beard?” And I was the one chosen to shave. And then I wanted something a little different, and it evolved from there. But I find it quite funny. I’ve said for a while,

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it certainly wasn’t my talent getting me the roles. It was just my ability to be a neanderthal and grow facial hair in 24 hours. In Westworld: “Choppers? Okay! I can grow choppers overnight!”

SPOILER: You’re so perfect for every role you’re ever in. How was your experience on The Walking Dead? STEVEN OGG: It was wonderful. I’m still friends with many. Like Steven [Yeun], I reached out when I first saw Minari. We still touch base with each other, which represents how great an experience it was. With all these shows, and Snowpiercer is no exception, you tend to just meet really cool people. We’re all in this business, we’re all doing our thing, we generally have similar passions. So it makes for a wonderful bond amongst people. Sometimes you’ll wake up with a Snowpiercer group text that’s fortydeep. It’s just everyone checking in. Walking Dead was the same. You just meet such wonderful people, and that’s what you remember [the most]. The friendships and the connections are what I remember more than the show itself. It’s what’s wonderful about this business. SPOILER: Both Snowpiercer and

The Walking Dead have massive amounts of actors. Do you thrive in those environments? STEVEN OGG: I’ve been very grateful for these roles and these opportunities. These big worlds are interesting. Honestly, work is work and acting is acting, but they’re exciting worlds, they’re very much play because they’re apocalyptic— they’re not a family drama based in reality. In these larger groups, it’s fun. But having been so fortunate enough to do these large group things, I’d love to do a two-hander, or theater, with just a small group— three, four people. I’m not, nor have I been, in a position where I’m sitting at my desk with scripts all around me, making a choice between [an array] of projects. So when you have an opportunity to audition, you do the best you can, and hopefully you book it. I’m very grateful for having any work.

SPOILER: What got you into acting originally? STEVEN OGG: I did theater growing up in Alberta, but the performance I did was dressing in drag as Betty Boop. And this was in elementary school at a school assembly, and I have no idea why I did that—I don’t come from a performing family— but I did it, and I think that was my beginnings of performing—the high of performing. And there’s nothing like it. I just had my first day on set a couple weeks ago, and it organically felt different. Acting is just a different feeling, for better or for worse. You’re not working all the time, but acting is almost something I can’t explain. Something in me feels different and I just love it. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated waiting between shots [laughs]. But that high, that buzz, it’s pretty amazing and keeps you going. I must’ve had a taste of that doing Betty Boop, and that became my driving thing to this day. I have the same drive now as I did back then. There’s still things april 2021|

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steven ogg I reach for. It feels interesting to wanna pursue it. As you get older, sometimes it’s a little more difficult to feel that burn. The exuberance of youth wears off, but that kinda keeps me young, that I’m someone who’s excited about things and passionate about things. That means I also feel great pain and depression and anxiety, but then I also feel great love and joy. The pursuit is what keeps you young. It doesn’t mean it’s always fun, but the moments you do feel high, you keep going back to it. I’m not advocating drugs. I don’t do drugs.

S SPOILER: Do you think because you’ve built this larger than life persona, that’s what’s expected of you? STEVEN OGG: I mean, I don’t know what people necessarily think of me. Not that I don’t care—it’s easy to say you don’t care if you’re liked. But you gotta take both. I just had a meeting the other day with a friend who was dealing with some negative things going on on social media. And the advice: Just ignore it. They don’t know you, they don’t know the reality. They’re just trolls. For some reason, people love to knock people down—especially people who’ve succeeded. The dream is always to succeed, and yet once people do succeed, there’s other people who love to knock them down. I don’t understand that. Kids, we know, go through a horrible time with bullying. It’s just sad. Just choose to be nice,

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man. So people’s views of me, I have no control over. People can think what they want. But people who know me and are close to me know who I am. And that’s all I really give a s**t about. SPOILER: Do you feel that social media is a good thing or can it be dangerous? STEVEN OGG: It’s a false sense of getting to know someone. Everyone can engage on social media in the way they wish to. That’s everyone’s choice. It’s rarely true in reality. It’s just someone’s opinion or thought or idea, and you have to take it for what it is. The only true way of knowing someone is being with someone and talking with them. You can get an idea of someone on social media, but that’s all it is. I love a good chin wag, but now I think social media has really made any civil discourse really difficult. Because people now are judging

instantly. Now we know everything that’s going on and it’s an overload of our brains and emotions. I don’t know if we’re built to handle this overload. If you’re getting upset about what people are commenting about, then don’t read the comments. I would probably take stuff personally if I engaged more. Because I’m sensitive. SPOILER: What advice can you give someone trying to get into acting? STEVEN OGG: “Good f**kin’ luck.” [laughs] Nah, I’m joking. You know, generally I think the advice I give is not necessarily what I do. You gotta get involved and get out there and create your own stuff. And I don’t. I’m not writing my own script or developing my own projects. But I think that’s your best bet, because then you can have control over what you do. And you’re not waiting for someone else. I wish I did that more. Get out there and do it...not like me.


SPOILER: If the world froze over like in Snowpiercer, would you wanna be stuck on a train like that? STEVEN OGG: I don’t think so. Confined spaces aren’t really my thing, so I can’t imagine enjoying being stuck on a train. I used to sometimes have anxiety attacks on the New York subway, so I biked everywhere. I don’t know if I’d be the greatest being stuck on the train. I’ll just freeze outside. SPOILER: Your character Pike has evolved tremendously in season 2. Do you have to get into certain mindsets for him? STEVEN OGG: I’m not a method actor by any means. I’m about the words in the scene and serving the story. But certainly the transformation scene was a lot, and I wanted to get into that as much as I could. You go where you need to go for that. But then you leave it.

Steven Ogg/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media

SPOILER: Does acting a certain way affect you sometimes? STEVEN OGG: Yeah, you sometimes need to decompress, even just after work. I remember back in my theater days—which I miss so much—that high after performing, it’s why you usually end up having to go for a drink or something. Because your adrenaline is up. It’s not necessarily because you’re doing an intense scene, but just performing. When I was shooting the Grand Theft Auto stuff, that character was very impulsive and I had to do some crazy things. I remember sometimes riding on the train from Long Island, after doing that for eight hours, you do sometimes have in your muscles some reaction when someone is rude to you or bumps into you. Because you were just acting out your impulses for eight hours, so you do have to keep your emotions in check. But other than that, I don’t carry much around with me. My head’s already full. SPOILER: If you can give one message to all your fans out in the world, what would it be?

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INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM

scene in 2012 with a supporting role in Noah Baumbach’s underground hit Frances Ha as the title character’s best friend, Sophie. Since then, the actress has been in some amazing projects, and has now found another big opportunity to level up her career once more with a starring role on Snowpiercer. She plays Bess Till, a Brakemanturned-Train Detective, who finds herself at the center of a series of murders on the train. The actress has always shown her range and ability to mold into any role throughout her career, and here her talents are on full display again. Mickey doesn’t reject her celebrity status, but also finds advantages to being able to fly a bit under the radar and morph into different characters. She talks about the effects of the infamous “fame monster” and how she’s had the benefit of seeing fame first hand from such a young age, which has given her a unique perspective. Growing up in a household with famous parents isn’t always easy, but Mickey acknowledges and has learned from the privilege that comes with it as well. The actress gets personal with us about her struggles with anxiety, an issue that many of us deal with, but also has some fun discussing which fandom characters she’d like to be able to play. Galaxy is able to lend a helping hand as well...

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Mickey Sumner/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Lindsey Byrnes/David Bukach/TNT/Michael Muller/TNT

Mickey Sumner burst onto the acting


interview interview

mickey sumner

SPOILER: What’s your experience been like on Snowpiercer? MICKEY SUMNER: I’ve been working on the show for the last three years, so it feels like a big life journey for me, coming up to Vancouver and shooting. The show is an epic production with such an amazing cast, and then I get to play Bess Till, who has this transformation throughout season 1, and then we meet her in season 2 and she’s been promoted to a train detective. And it’s just action, action, action. SPOILER: Snowpiercer is a very badass show and on my top 3 list of TV shows right now. How is it working with such a great cast? MICKEY SUMNER: Coming to set every day feels like coming home at this point. They’re my family. We have a really close bond, which isn’t true for every production. But there’s really something special between all of us. It’s great coming to work and feeling like you’re just hangin out with your friends and just making amazing art. Getting to come back to play Bess Till and putting on new costumes, sometimes it’s hard to call it work. It feels like such a privilege; such fun. SPOILER: Do you have to get into a certain mindset to play the Train Detective or is it very natural for you? MICKEY SUMNER: I think in all characters I play there are elements of myself that shine through. Especially this season, Bess is going through some pretty intense mental health issues. She’s struggling through the revolution they just went through, and trying to fit into the new structure underneath latent leadership, and I think she very much has PTSD and anxiety, searching for who she is now without this uniform. I think there are a lot of interesting aspects that I relate to. I also suffer from anxiety, so those aspects are very good to work with and put it into my art as opposed to my daily life. SPOILER: Do you ever get into your own head on set? MICKEY SUMNER: Yeah, there’s a lot of credible talent on set, and there’s definitely times I have to go, “Get it together, don’t mess this up.” I think my scenes with Jennifer [Connelly], I definitely get in my

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mickey sumner head because she’s such an amazing professional actor, and I always find myself wanting to do my best with her. She’s awesome. Sometimes the stunt scenes, I really want to make sure I get them right and I put a lot of pressure on myself to get things right, but I’m also surrounded by a really supportive cast and crew. So now three years in, there’s less stress and it feels more relaxed. SPOILER: How did you first hear about Snowpiercer? Did you hunt for this series or did it just fall into your lap? MICKEY SUMNER: Actually an audition came through and it didn’t have a title. I don’t think there was even a reference to the train. Just a little bit of a breakdown of the character. I knew it was a show and that it was a little bit sci-fi. But it was very mysterious [laughs]. And those auditions do come in where there’s very little information, and those are the ones you kinda get interested about. I actually auditioned multiple times for Till, and eventually got to the stage where they brought me in to chemistry read with Daveed [Diggs], and thank God we had good chemistry [laughs]. Then they gave me the job, but it was a process for sure.

O SPOILER: How does it feel being in these huge scenes on these grandiose sets? MICKEY SUMNER: I think it feels sometimes like I have to pinch myself that I get to do this and get paid for it. To be surrounded by people who I admire and respect and make me a better actor—being around Alison Wright who plays Ruth, I learn from her every single scene. She’s so amazing and she’s so funny. I’m very grateful for this job. The sets are really magnificent—the mechanics of the sets and the set dressings and details that everyone puts into them. It can be overwhelming, but it’s really just a fun job. SPOILER: You were made for this character, but did you ever audition for a different character early on?

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MICKEY SUMNER: I didn’t because there weren’t any other options for me [laughs]. But it’s hard to imagine being anyone else at this point. Till is a part of me and I’m a part of Till. We sort of created her with the showrunner and the directors and the cast, you’re morphed and made by each other. And that’s why I love acting so much.

Sometimes I get jealous of Lena Hall’s costumes. Every single scene she has a different costume and different hairstyle and different makeup, and I’m like, “Gah! Lena! Enough!” Because I only get one costume for a whole season [laughs]. I’m like, “Can I get some diamonds on my face??” But I’m pretty happy with Till.


auditioning really helps me, because getting rejected sucks. But now it doesn’t feel like rejection so much. You’re just looking for “the one.”

Mickey Sumner/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Lindsey Byrnes/David Bukach/TNT/Michael Muller/TNT

SPOILER: I don’t know if fans know this, but your father is Sting. How was it growing up in a household with a legendary rock star? MICKEY SUMNER: I have nothing to compare it to. It was my reality and my normal. I was hyper-aware that it was not typical of other families and of how privileged I was and what I had. I think my parents were very careful and constantly reminding us that we had a lot and we were given a lot of opportunities, and we still had to work for everything we wanted. Obviously there are things that come with privilege, but they definitely pushed us to work hard and go to school. My parents both have very high and powerful work ethic and they instilled that in all of us.

SPOILER: Where’s your accent from? MICKEY SUMNER: I was born in England and was raised between England and America. When I was 20, I went to college in New York City, and I stayed there and never went back. It’s been quite a long time that I’ve been in America, hence my really weird, effed-up accent [laughs]. SPOILER: What made you want to get into the world of acting? MICKEY SUMNER: I was in art school actually. I was in college for painting and sculpture, and I sorta fell into this crowd of friends who were at NYU and Bard, and they were all in the film program, making short films for the school. And at some point someone was like, “Hey, I need an actress. We just lost our actress. Can you help?” And I was like, “Yes!” And I got hooked that way. One of my first short films was working with the Safdie brothers, who have become very successful in their own right. By the time I graduated art school I had just decided that painting in my studio wasn’t as satisfying to

me as working on a film set. I went to acting classes at night during my degree, and then I graduated and dropped the paint brush [laughs], and I’ve been hustling since then.

SPOILER: Your dad’s amazing, but your mother, Trudie Styler, is phenomenal. MICKEY SUMNER: My mom is a Renaissance woman: actress, producer, winemaker, the list goes on and on. SPOILER: I didn’t want to start this interview with name-dropping your

SPOILER: Do you think the actor’s hustle will always be in you no matter what? MICKEY SUMNER: Yes, definitely. The hustle is always there. I was speaking to a friend of mine, who’s a very established actress, and she was talking about an audition, and I was like, “Oh my God, you still audition??” But I think I have a very different opinion about auditioning now. I used to get upset when I didn’t get a role, but now I feel like auditioning is like dating: You’re not gonna fall in love with everyone, and not everyone is gonna fall in love with you. It’s really about the right person and the right time. And I really feel that way about acting. There’s a role for you, and clearly you’re not going to be right for everything, but the one you are right for is like a match made in Heaven. That shift in my perspective in

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SPOILER: What scares you about it? MICKEY SUMNER: I just really value my privacy. I’ve seen how it can affect people and how it can ruin people. It’s a monster. You can use it, but you can also be used by it. You have to tread a fine line between those things, and I’ve been navigating it since I was a kid. It was a privilege to have that perspective and not be thrown into it later in life.

SPOILER: You’re a down-to-earth person. I want all of our readers to know that. We invited you on our talk show and you were like, “Yes!” We appreciate how easy going you have been during this entire process. MICKEY SUMNER: I was excited! I love Comic Con and I love the fans. I think that’s the greatest joy of doing the show and being on TV each week—you see how invested people become in the story and my character, and that’s why we do this. We do this to tell stories and to entertain people and help them see themselves in a different way. It’s so important. So it’s a pleasure to be interviewed for the magazine. SPOILER: From when you started acting

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in college, how long did it take you until you felt like you finally made it. MICKEY SUMNER: I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way [laughs]. I’m always like, “This might be my last job.” Especially on a TV show, you’re waiting for them to review you. So it feels very unstable a lot of the time. I’ve never sat back and went, “Okay, I’ve made it!” Also, I don’t have that nature. I’m always striving for more, which sometimes is not great, but that’s just part of my workaholic nature. Anyone out there suffering from anxiety, I see you and I love you—it’s an ongoing struggle for me, but I recognize it and get help for it. SPOILER: What worries you the most? MICKEY SUMNER: I think it’s more of an existential crisis, like the end of the world. We’re also living through unprecedented times with the pandemic, and it’s very human to normalize everything, but this is not normal. And I think it’s good to sometimes be vulnerable, especially in crafts like this where we’re supposed to be very upbeat and positive. There’s a lot to be anxious about, but I’m just trying to keep it real [laughs]. SPOILER: If your kids said, “Mom, I want to be an actor,” what would you tell them? MICKEY SUMNER: I would have to repeat what my parents told me: “Okay, you wanna be an actor? Go to acting class, get an agent. You have to work for it.” I am a mom, I have a 4-year-old, and whatever he wants to do in life, it’s my job to hold him and support him, and instill a sense of work ethic and self-esteem, and then tell him, “Go get it, baby!” If my kid wanted to be a window cleaner, I would tell him to go do it; do anything as long as you’re not hurting anyone. SPOILER: What advice would you give someone starting out in acting? MICKEY SUMNER: I think right now, and I wish I had done it when I started acting, that writing and creating your own content for yourself is very easy to do. When I started out, there was no

Mickey Sumner/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Lindsey Byrnes/David Bukach/TNT/Michael Muller/TNT

parents because you’re very talented in your own right and that’s what’s most important. MICKEY SUMNER: Thank you. I appreciate you seeing me that way. I never wanted to get by on who my parents were. I found that really embarrassing. I believe that I find satisfaction when I know that I’m doing something because I’m actually good at it, and I hate the idea of anyone giving me anything because of my dad. Also as an actor I’m really interested in sinking into roles and not becoming a celebrity, because that can really affect how people see you on screen. I just like to slip into characters and be unrecognizable, and have a private life and be a chameleon. I know [that celebrity] is very much part of the job, and I’m on Instagram and do the red carpets, but I’m very much scared of the fame monster aspect [laughs].


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SPOILER: Do you think the pandemic stunt your ability to be on more projects? MICKEY SUMNER: I feel very lucky that I’ve actually been filming. We finished season 2 during the pandemic. We started in March when everything got bad, but then came back in October to finish the season. So I got to hang out with my kid and be a full-time mom, and then I got to finish working. And then I directed my own short, so I don’t know how it would have been if I didn’t have Snowpiercer. It might’ve been very different. But I’ve had a lot of actor friends who are still auditioning. The entertainment industry managed to somewhat keep going. People need things to watch when they’re in a global pandemic [laughs].

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SPOILER: What’s the name of your short? MICKEY SUMNER: It’s called I’m Listening. It’s about a woman and her child during lockdown. And the mother starts up an unlikely relationship with Siri. Siri is actually voiced by my sister. My mom is also in it. My husband did sound and catering [laughs]. It was a total family affair. It’s actually part of a series that my mother is producing for her production company, with multiple short films by different actors. So I’m honored to be part of that group.

iPhone or making movies on your phone. It was a different generation. I also didn’t have the confidence in myself about writing, and I’m just starting to get into writing. But as an actor, you’re so much in the mercy of casting directors and producers and directors—there’s not a lot of control. But if you’re creative and an actor and have a story to tell, make your own stuff. The technology is extremely accessible. And you’re not waiting around for other people to tell you that you’re talented. That’s the struggle with acting, that there’s a lack of control. SPOILER: So aside from acting you’re also a writer? MICKEY SUMNER: I am writing. And I actually directed a movie that I starred in with my son in quarantine last summer, up here in British Columbia. I’m in post-production

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right now, and I really had fun making that and being part of editing and music and learning all the other aspects of filmmaking. I’m loving it. SPOILER: If you could work with any director or on any show right now, who or what would it be? MICKEY SUMNER: That’s a very difficult question, but right now I’m obsessed with Bridgerton [laughs]. I’m obsessed! I’m English, put me on Bridgerton season 2! It’s a bit of a departure from Snowpiercer, but I could absolutely do it. Just wig me out to hide my shaved hair and let’s do this [laughs]. I’m also a massive Star Wars fan and would love to be on Star Wars. I’m loving all the action I’m doing on Snowpiercer, so anything where I can run around and do some punching and kicking and falling, that would be fun.

SPOILER: Was there a lot of bickering during the project? MICKEY SUMNER: My mom was in Europe and my sister was in London, and I haven’t seen my family since January 2020. It’s crazy. I really miss them. But we did everything via FaceTime and email. It was all digital. My mom directed me in her movie, and now I got to direct her. She took direction well because she’s a very good actor. SPOILER: Do you think if this pandemic happened in the ‘80s when there wasn’t streaming and iPhones, it would have been much harder to deal with? MICKEY SUMNER: It’s hard to imagine how we would have felt without that knowledge of those technologies, but I’ve really been saved by FaceTime. I spend a lot of


mickey sumner SPOILER: What character do you see yourself as? MICKEY SUMNER: No, I want you to answer that question.

time on FaceTime with my family, and my son gets to hang out with his cousins and grandparents, and that face-to-face aspect is so vital. It feels less awful when you see people’s faces. I put my phone down in the kitchen when I’m cooking and talk to my sister and it almost feels like we’re in the same room. But thank God for this technology that allows us to stay in touch and keep working. It’s coming up on a year that we’ve been in this pandemic and I see the light with vaccines and it seems like maybe it’s going to be better soon. I send my love to everyone else who’s dealing with the same thing.

Mickey Sumner/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Lindsey Byrnes/David Bukach/TNT/Michael Muller/TNT

SPOILER: Do you ever watch and critique yourself after the show airs? MICKEY SUMNER: I do find it

difficult sometimes to watch myself. If I’m doing a tape for an audition I watch everything so that I can adjust things, but once things are made and edited, I definitely have to psych myself out to watch myself. Not because I’m highly critical of myself, but it’s different for every project. But with Snowpiercer I like watching it in real time with the audience, there’s something really fun about that. SPOILER: Marvel or DC? MICKEY SUMNER: Oh my God, why do I have to pick one?? I’m really enjoying WandaVison right now, so I’m gonna go with Marvel. But then I love DC stuff too. It’s a really hard question, I can’t pick.

SPOILER: In my Marvel Handbook that I keep on my desk, there are a thousand characters inside, and you fit about 30 or 40 of those characters perfectly. These are characters that haven’t come out yet in film or TV. MICKEY SUMNER: Thank you. Well, I do have one dream. If they ever do a remake of Conan, I think the character of Valeria would be a great character for me. I’m looking at her costume right now and I’m like, “Come on…” That silver, sort of bikini thing, and the helmet, and she carries a sword. She’s just the most badass character to me. SPOILER: You can be anyone you like. There’s She-Ra, there’s Dazzler, there’s Invisible Woman—you fit all of them. MICKEY SUMNER: Let me see Dazzler… [looks up picture on phone] Oh, Dazzler! Done! SPOILER: Well maybe someone out there will read this and make it happen! Moving on from the Hollywood stuff, let’s close this out with a nice classic question of mine: Do you believe in the paranormal?

MICKEY SUMNER: Oh yes, 100%! I grew up in a really haunted house. I had a couple super ghosty, interesting experiences. So I definitely believe in paranormal activity. I never met a bad ghost, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared [laughs]. I think I definitely feel energy without feeling too woo-woo, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have those experiences. april 2021|

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INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM

Aleks Paunovic/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Brendan Meadows

Aleks Paunovic is making his name known

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more and more in this industry. The actor’s career spans over two decades and he’s been featured on everything from Battlestar Galactica to Supernatural, but now with recurring roles on Snowpiercer and Van Helsing, fans are finally getting to see more and more of him on a consistent basis. Aleks is an insanely cool dude who loves his fans just as much as they love him. He laments the lack of conventions from this past year, as those were his opportunities to catch up with his fans face-to-face. However, the actor has still been busy connecting on social media during this time. A dominating presence on any project he’s on, Aleks has proven to be a master of finding ways to fluctuate between shining on screen and providing just enough to make someone else have the spotlight in any given scene. Here, the actor takes us behind the scenes a little bit and reveals some of the magic of the giant train set on Snowpiercer, as well as imparts some advice for aspiring actors of large stature, just like himself. And most surprisingly, he expresses his love for what we do here at SPO!LER.


interview interview

SPOILER: It’s been a while since we last talked. ALEKS PAUNOVIC: I’ll always make time for you, man! I always have a blast. I listen to your show and hear everything you do for everyone, so I will always make time for you. SPOILER: Thank you for listening and always being such a kind gentleman. Tell us everything you’ve been up to. ALEKS PAUNOVIC: We shot our fifth and final season of Van Helsing, and it’s premiering soon. That’s been my love for five years, and to have Syfy and Netflix allow us a fifth and final season so we can wrap up everyone’s storyline and it’s a completed series with nothing left unsaid, I’m really grateful for that. Snowpiercer, we’re coming back for season 3. Season 2 is just killin’ it right now. You read the scripts of the show, but when you’re actually watching the finished episode you get to see everyone’s performance of the scenes that you weren’t in. The editing on the show is fantastic, the performances are fantastic. I’m just such a fan

aleks paunovic media? Because that’s where I’m gettin my juice from, because every time people watch Snowpiercer or Van Helsing I get inundated with messages, and I love that I can still have that connection even during a pandemic, and I can’t wait to see those people in person. To me, the most important part of my job is connecting with fans. I’m a fan of so many people, and when the people I’m fans of connect with me, I’m giddy for days like a little schoolgirl. I just absolutely love talking about the project, so I like to do that on the other end, and hopefully it’s received the same way. But I do miss seeing people for sure.

regardless if I’m in it or not. I’m just lucky to be in it. I have a film coming out as well called XCII that I’m really excited about. I’m currently in Atlanta shooting, but I can’t talk about that project. But I can’t wait to talk about that project. I’ve got a few more months to go. Everything’s been busy and great, and it’s been exciting. SPOILER: Last time we spoke, Van Helsing was only on season 2, and now you’re on season 5. Didn’t I tell you it was going to five seasons? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: You called it, man! SPOILER: Hopefully you’ll be able to go to conventions soon and see all your fans again. Have you been missing conventions and that energy? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: I love the conventions. I love meeting fans. Even here in Atlanta I’ve had fans of the show approach me. I absolutely miss it. Can you imagine if this pandemic happened without social

SPOILER: You’re 6’5” on the outside and a big teddy bear who everybody loves on the inside. ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Hey! You better watch it, man! You can’t get that out there [laughs]. But honestly everybody goes through changes in their life. And thank God I had a great family upbringing. My mom is my best friend, so I feel like I know how to treat people—at least I hope I do. And I don’t connect with people just for them, but also because I genuinely really love talking to the fans. And they’ve become friends too. I’ve got this amazing bunch of women who are fans of what I do and fans of a lot of my friends also, and they get together to do Skype calls every month. And it all happened because of the banter we would have on Twitter, and they all became friends—8, 9, 10 of them. That kinda stuff just lights me up. I just love that. SPOILER: How do you get into the mindset of someone like Wech on See? And then how do you switch to doing roles like Boki on Snowpiercer and then Julius on Van Helsing? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: That was a great gig [on See] with my buddy Jason [Momoa], and to be able to create that character and the look of that character with the fantastic hair and makeup department, and get the hair the way I wanted it was a blast. And then I think we did about a week

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SPOILER: No spoilers, but something happened in the last episode of Snowpiercer—and it didn’t happen to you. Why is that? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: When I read season 2 scripts and talked with Graeme about my character, I was so overwhelmed and super grateful that there was this really amazing arc for this character. It’s definitely a ride. SPOILER: I love the show, and I know this is gonna offend some people, but I like it better than the movie.

or two weeks of blind camp, so we had to understand what not having sight is, and what other senses have to come to the forefront, and how you can defocus your eyes. How do you move? How do you check? It was great to learn all of that and wrap it up in a character that I really loved to create with the team and the producers. Francis Lawrence, the director, was fantastic in allowing me to create and giving me a scope for creativity, and so did Jason. Again, it goes right into Van Helsing where the people who are part of the show just make you a better performer because everyone is so on point and so kind and so creative. It allowed for more freedom for us to communicate and then I just got fortunate that they wrote Julius the way they did and really played in my pocket. What I never get a chance to play, but always can’t wait to play, is myself, like when I become “human Julius.” It was about the retribution and making everything right for all the wrongs that I’ve done. And then with Snowpiercer, Boki Boscovic, that was a godsend. I went into the audition and the character had a different name, but he was of

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Polish descent, and I improvised a little bit in my native tongue, which is Serbian, assuming the people on the other side of the table didn’t really know the language. So when I got the job, I was excited, but I had to break it to them that that wasn’t Polish I was improvising, so if it was integral to the character for him to be Polish, I can’t improvise. But if we can make him Serbian, it would be great because I could improvise. So we just started talking about names. I threw out my brother’s name, Bojan, and I mentioned it to the showrunner Graeme Manson, who’s a fantastic dude, and I said, “What about Bojan?” And he kind of hummed a little bit. Then I went, “But his nickname is Boki.” And he said, “Oh, I like Boki.” So that’s how the character was named, and it means so much more to me and is so much closer to my heart because, not only am I using my brother, who’s one of my best friends, as a tribute to him, but I’m also using my nationality and playing a Serbian in the show. It’s definitely been a dream come true doing something like that and getting that idea across on such an amazing show.

ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Well there’s just so much more character development. You can only do so much character development in a 2-hour movie with such a huge cast. With our show, we get to really tell the stories, not only of the people on the train, but of the train itself— backstories. We have that availability to us, having great, creative writers who can see way beyond any of us can imagine a story can go to, it’s just been great. Just getting to watch Kwasi [Thomas], who plays one of the Tailies, and Kurt Ostlund as Strong Boy, and


Pike—Steve Ogg—who’s just a phenomenal dude. And Lena Hall is just amazing. Everyone’s been so great on the show that you gotta up your game because you’re in the all star game, and I just wanna keep up.

Aleks Paunovic/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Brendan Meadows

SPOILER: Some of your Van Helsing cast mates are on Snowpiercer as well. What’s it like being on two separate shows and being able to share those experiences together? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: It’s great. I was with John Walker, who’s the showrunner of Van Helsing, and we were at Comic Con for Van Helsing, and he and I were in season 1 of Snowpiercer, and they were going to release the trailer at Comic Con. So to be able to hang out with a guy I’ve worked with for four or five years, for another show that we’re both on—regardless of how big or small the roles are, it doesn’t matter, we’re part of the same thing, and now we’re going to be part of something else—there’s something pretty great about that when you hang out with someone you truly love. Jonathan Walker is just an amazing dude. And the alumni of Van Helsing going over

H

to Snowpiercer, it’s just a testament to how talented the Vancouver actor pool is, and how talented the people on Van Helsing were that they can work on other shows. I love that vibe, man. I love when people come up to me when I’m on another show and go, “Hey, man, I was part of season 1,” and I remember them and we get to talk about it. I dig that stuff. I’m really lucky that I’m in this position and can have these types of conversations.

SPOILER: I know before the pandemic you were working on your own movie studio in Canada. Is that still in the works or is it on hold? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: It’s a little bit of both. It’s definitely still in the works, but obviously because of the pandemic we’re doing everything via Zoom and making some waves forward, which is really exciting. But I can’t wait to be able to travel and go over there and get my feet back on the ground in Winnipeg. SPOILER: These train scenes in Snowpiercer look colossal! How many sets did they build to create this whole train vibe? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Isn’t it amazing? When you walk into the studio in Vancouver, you literally have the

aleks paunovic

Tailie section in one part of the studio, so you have maybe four or five cars, but they also unlock, so you can open them up so the camera can go inside. Or you can take off the side of the train—it’s really intricate and done really well. It’s just amazing. The classroom car where the kids are being taught is just so meticulously done. Every part of the train has been quite an event to get into. And when you’re actually shooting it, we have people rocking the train car whenever we yell “action” because it needs to look like it’s been moving, so that’s also a trick because you’re always off-balance in some way, which keeps you on your toes. You literally feel like you’re on a train. So it’s a wonderful, extravagant set. SPOILER: Who do you think, excluding yourself, gets the MVP for season 2? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Oh man, you’re putting me on the spot here! Everyone has been great. I’ve been loving Steven Ogg’s stuff in season 2. Seeing him move forward, the way his personality can be so big, he’s just so compelling to watch. And I feel the same way about Lena and Alison [Wright], and obviously Jennifer Connelly—can I give them all the MVP?

SPOILER: Last season, I feel like your character was used in more action scenes, but this season, Boki is more laid back. How do you think Boki’s feeling in season 2? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Basically it’s revolting the revolt. Knowing that Wilford’s coming on, and it’s somebody who I revere—someone I’ve known since I was a kid—there’s a connection with him. And having the most dangerous job on the train where we go outside and fix the train, it lends itself to, “I’m standing for what I believe in, which isn’t this revolt that you’re doing. So I’m gonna sit tight until this all blows over and my man comes back and we make things right.” They’re just keeping to themselves. If they’re gonna be needed, they’ll be needed,

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A but right now they’re not making a move. In the first season, my character was very jovial and boisterous. You had that scene in the classroom to educate the kids about the train, about how dangerous the job is, and having that banter back and forth with Melanie. So I really loved the playfulness of Boki in season 1. But in season 2, because the revolt gets a little more serious and more personal to him, you get to see what kind of guy he is.

SPOILER: The cast of Snowpiercer is amazing, but my friend, you shine so bright. How are you able to accomplish that? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Honestly that’s the last thing on my mind. The only way it happens is when you’re working with an A-list team. You just hafta keep up. You don’t wanna be the one thing that pulls the scene down. You have to rise to the amazing talent around you and just be. It’s not about outshining, but being as present as possible, and doing your homework on how many levels you can bring to your character so it just tells the story instead of outshining anyone. If another character is having an emotional scene and I can help them shine and make that mark, then I’ve done my job.

SPOILER: The show does a great job of balancing all of its actors and making everyone feel so crucial to the series. Do you ever get intimidated working with some of them? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Well, I work with people who are at the top of their game—whether they’re household names or not. They’re just THAT good. And that’s why it’s been such a great show to be part of, because I’m constantly in awe whenever I’m in a scene with other people just doing amazing work. Sometimes I kinda get nervous here and there and just wanna prep as much as possible, because I just don’t wanna be the guy who doesn’t serve the piece in the way that it should be served, especially around the team that I’m around. But definitely I get nervous, or see a performance and

aleks paunovic

go, “Oh my God!” I get super happy when I get to sit back and see a great performance while we’re in the scene— I’ve got the best seat in the house. And I hope I do that for others. Daveed Diggs, we did a scene in season 2, and I just loved watching him work. It was so natural, and he just drops right into the character, and I love witnessing that all happen. It’s the exciting part of the job. SPOILER: The show does a great job of feeling super busy with these big group scenes. ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Oh yeah. It does it phenomenally. You get to feel the quote-unquote “claustrophobia” of the train. I think that’s something the creatives wanted to do. Not only are these trains extravagant, but they’re also packed. And it’s really rare to get alone time in the show. And I love that. They find the alone time and I love how they do it, but you get to see the scope of the magnitude that’s happening on this Noah’s Ark-type thing. SPOILER: You and I are both tall guys. Do you feel that sometimes it’s difficult for you to be in a scene because of your stature? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: No, that’s just something I can’t even worry about because I can’t change it. All I can do is do a good performance. I’m very fortunate that Hollywood has opened its doors a little bit more for big guys to not just be stuntmen, but actually do heartfelt, emotional, strong performances. I’ll go back to Momoa, who’s just a fantastic actor. To see his work in See, you get to see what kind of an emotional, compelling actor he is, and he’s 6’5”. So the idea that the world is kind of allowing that stuff to happen, regardless of camera angles or where the scene is taking place— obviously, I’m not gonna book a role where I play a fighter pilot in World War II, I’m not gonna fit in that plane. Just like you don’t get a 5’3” guy playing a heavyweight champion boxer. So it’s always moving and you just hafta understand your role, and there’s no reason to worry about it. I just gotta be

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me and try to lay as much down as I can and walk away from it knowing that it’s a business also. You gotta also play the room. It’s like the Old West. If you walk into a bar with a six shooter, you’re walking in a little bit more confident. But you’re also walking in more chill because you are confident. So me walking into a room knowing that somebody may be a little intimidated, I really try to build a rapport, without giving up who I am, to let them know, “This is all good. No stress. We’re all a team here.” Early on in my career, I was immediately looked at as the guy who was gonna be the thug or the bouncer or the guy who beats people up—and I get that. But I had to put in the work to go, “I wanna tell different stories than what people can see at a glance.” So I had to really be vulnerable and do pieces and arcs that show that there’s more to me than just my size. I think if you’re an actor and you’re of a larger stature and only getting certain types of roles, then go out and make your own stuff, or put yourself in a position where you’re in the stories that you wanna tell and it’ll come around, I guarantee you. And you’ll start getting cast in things that you wanna be cast in. But you hafta go through the battle a little bit and understand that it’s part of the war. You have to make people overcome the stature. To have a full, eventful life, you have to understand the tools that you’re working with. SPOILER: Are there any actors whose careers you’d like to emulate? ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Honestly, I always feel like there’s bigger and better things always on the other side. New experiences drive me. The big dudes I look up to, like The Rock and Jason Momoa, and seeing the things that they’re doing at such a stature, it’s invigorating. But at the end of the day, I just love working. I love working with good people. I love working on indies, short films, massive productions—I just love creating and getting my hands dirty. That’s one of the best things about

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Aleks Paunovic/Snowpiercer/TNT/Warner Media/Brendan Meadows

aleks paunovic

doing shorts and indies. You get to get your hands in as a producer and everyone’s helping each other out to make a project happen. When you get on a bigger show, there’s a lot of people who are part of that production, so you don’t get as much experience in that. The smaller stuff just helps me have more tools in my toolbox as an actor and as somebody who can help motivate people to go after their dreams. There’s really no formula except, “Say yes and I’ll figure it out later.” I’m not gonna say “no” out of fear or if I’m too busy. SPOILER: Where do you see Snowpiercer going?

ALEKS PAUNOVIC: Oh man, it’s such a huge production and there are so many stars on it, that I’m sure they’re gonna be on for a

long time. I hope this thing goes five years for sure. There’s so many places for the storyline to go. So many things that can happen, not only within the train, but with Earth being reborn, and what that’s gonna look like in season 5 if it happens. I have no idea where it’s going but the possibilities are endless!



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inte inte

If you’ve ever seen at least one of Iddo Goldberg’s

projects you know his voice cuts through any scene, which makes a beautifully crowded show like Snowpiercer the perfect match. Always operating with such control in any of his performances, the actor also imbues each of his characters with a certain charisma that makes audiences so compelled to root for him.

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Iddo plays Bennett Knox, an engineer on the train and one of the few people who knows of its mortality. A repellant for the show’s antagonist, Mr. Wilford, Bennett has a sort of power in his own right. The actor has had a long career thus far, featured on the esteemed series Peaky Blinders, and more recently Westworld. Iddo talks with us about his feelings on the shortlived Salem and the sweetness amidst the bitterness of being on a show that gets cancelled prematurely. He also tells us about the movies that impacted him the most when he was a kid, as well as the importance of wearing sunscreen.

Iddo Goldberg/Snowpiercer/TNT/David Bukach/Warner Media

INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM


erview erview

interview interview

iddo goldberg SPOILER: You have such a recognizable voice, where’s your accent from? IDDO GOLDBERG: [laughs] I was born in Israel, and then when I was around 10, my whole family moved to London, and I guess that’s where this voice is from. SPOILER: In a show like Snowpiercer where there are many characters, do you feel like your tone stands out? IDDO GOLDBERG: Maybe. It was something I thought about going in, and Bennett has quite a lot of authority on the train. He’s one of the head engineers and makes crucial decisions. So I do try to kind of ground his voice a little more in authority. He definitely has more authority than I do. So that is something I think about. A lot of the stuff I say is quite scientific as well, and has a lot to do with tracking where the train is or what’s wrong with the train, so I need to be quite clear about that because that’s important information for the audience. You don’t expect that you’re gonna think about that stuff, but you do think about it. SPOILER: Does it take time to get into the mindset of your character? IDDO GOLDBERG: You do your work before you get to set, and when you get to set you try to flip the switch and be in that mode. Especially now, about to start season 3, I’m quite familiar with him at this point, so it becomes more of a second nature. SPOILER: In Salem you played Isaac and you did a phenomenal job. That show should’ve gone on for years. Isn’t it upsetting when networks cut shows that should not be cut? IDDO GOLDBERG: Thank you so much. Yeah, most of the cast were upset that we couldn’t go on. After you do this for a while, you realize you just have to accept things for how they are. It’s always bitter, but it’s sweet sometimes, because usually by that point you’ve been working on a character and living through someone else’s eyes for some time, so there’s always hope at the end of that news because you wonder what’s next. And you wonder what world you’re gonna be stepping into next, and who you’re gonna be living in. It’s bittersweet.

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iddo goldberg But that was a great show and a lot of fun. He was very different from anyone I’ve played before. I’ve been lucky in that respect that I get to do a lot of different roles. SPOILER: Why do you think the fans got so upset when the show stopped?

IDDO GOLDBERG: They’re so invested in the world and the characters. When I was growing up, you got shows only once a week, and you had to wait—just the same as Snowpiercer on TNT. But now we’ve gotten used to having all of the season there. You get your big bag of popcorn and sit for the day and get through it. So people get really invested in these shows, and I love that. You don’t get tired of people telling you that they’re invested in a show that you’re working on. Everybody’s efforts on that show have entertained people, and it’s really cool hearing that.

O SPOILER: When a show ends, does it take a piece of you with it? IDDO GOLDBERG: It’s interesting. It takes a while for everyone who’s working on a show to blend and get an understanding—writers writing to your strengths, and the cast and crew building relationships, and mutual respect—that stuff takes a while, because people are polite and don’t wanna step over lines. These relationships develop naturally. So when you’re told that it’s the end of that, it’s heartbreaking of course because these are all people who you’ve become so close with over a period of three years, in regards to Salem. But it’s not just that. With Salem, we shot in Shreveport,

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Louisiana. And the community of Shreveport was super supportive of the project. Everyone was so welcoming. We were invited to barbecues, and it was a sweet, young community that accepted us as we came into town. So you miss these communities as well, all these people. I think we are heartbroken in different ways, but we all share that sadness—the end of something like that. And you don’t immediately go, “I wonder what’s next.” It’s just that thing where you’re like, “Oh, this is over. I’m bummed,” and you get through it by going, “There may be some great stuff on the other side of

this.” From an early age, I’ve always felt like every project has been like a school for me—I wasn’t trained in drama school. I guess you get that in many professions. But this was definitely an unstructured journey for me. Every job that comes along, I learn from, and it’s exciting to know that you might be able to apply what you’ve learned on the next project. But it sucks when something’s really sweet and everyone’s enjoying it, and it ends. SPOILER: It’s probably nice having a spouse who’s an actress, she understands you’re world.


Iddo Goldberg/Snowpiercer/TNT/David Bukach/Warner Media

kidding [laughs]. I am always, always nervous. There isn’t a button to turn it off, so you feel it and you kinda just say, “Eff it,” and just go on with it. It’s actually kind of a nice energy to have bubbling underneath the surface. I think if you spend too much time on it, you’re not thinking about what you should be thinking about anyway. But by this point, I‘m trying to think about what I’m actually doing and what I want out of the moment, so it dissipates. The viewer is just seeing the good stuff.

IDDO GOLDBERG: She’s really good with that stuff. She definitely handles that stuff well. It is really fortunate that we’re able to support each other in that way. We both worked on Salem together, but we didn’t really have any scenes together. So that was an interesting scenario. When you’re away from work, it’s great to have someone who understands what’s going on to give you the support you need or that kick up the ass [laughs]. SPOILER: Do you put a lot of yourself in each role you play? IDDO GOLDBERG: For sure. I think as you work more and more you’re essentially trying to get as close as you can to a reality that you understand yourself, but apply it to this person that you kinda created. That reality comes from how you perceive things yourself. So absolutely. It’s a really hard thing to do that in itself, so I think it definitely starts with me. SPOILER: Your roles are always so memorable. One of my favorites is

Freddie Thorne in Peaky Blinders. IDDO GOLDBERG: Obviously Peaky Blinders is a phenomenon. It’s one of those one-in-a-million shows. At the beginning of that process, working with Otto Bathurst, the establishing director of that show, who was just fantastic to work for, he had a really clear idea of what he wanted to do. And I got that from talking to him even before I was cast. We were having these Skypes and he was talking to me about what they were gonna do, and I was just like, “Stop bloody talking to me about this— just cast me in the show!” It was just exciting to listen to. It was very fresh and very grand. His vision and support continued throughout my time there. And the cast was such a dream to be around as well. It was great to be a part of that.

SPOILER: How long do you think Snowpiercer is gonna be on for? I see it going another three to four seasons. IDDO GOLDBERG: I don’t know, I’ll just go with what you say, Galaxy. I would not argue with that. I think that it would be interesting where we could go in that time. Yeah, let’s see. It’s a big cast. There’s so many characters on the train, and so many fantastic actors that inhibit these characters. I feel like there’s lots to tell still. But we’re always having fun on the show. I think everyone would be happy to hang around and keep telling the story. Season 2 especially, I really liked the energy and pace of it. It was more fun, I feel, than season 1. Season 3, we’ll try to stick with that part of things. There’s some good stuff in store for people who are invested.

SPOILER: Have you ever gotten nervous on set? IDDO GOLDBERG: I actually never get nervous. Never. SPOILER: Never? IDDO GOLDBERG: Nah, I’m just

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SPOILER: Do you think the show thrives on having scenes with enormous amounts of people in them? IDDO GOLDBERG: Yeah, I like those scenes. When you’re watching it, you know that this show is essentially about the makeup of a society, so when you get to see as much of a society as you can, it’s really rewarding. You get to see the big scope of it all. And I think it’s really nice to be able to go from something like that to something that’s really touching or intense. One of my favorite scenes from season 1 is when Melanie is interrogating Josie. That was incredibly intense, but it was just two people. Also all the wars and all the battles, which unfortunately I don’t get to be a part of because I’m in the engine [laughs]. But also the scene where Big Alice shows up and everyone goes to greet Mr. Wilford—those scenes are really rewarding to see all the characters together as well. SPOILER: What made you want to get into acting? IDDO GOLDBERG: I was a bit of a joker growing up. And when I was about 8, I remember watching an old TV show called Bonanza, and just spending a weekend with my cousins pretending to shoot each other and fall to the ground. And there was such escapism in there. [laughs] Not that 8-year-old me did a lot of escapism. But there was something about it where I just loved being in that world. And I think that was the first time where I felt a love for that ultimate universe. I didn’t get into it until I was much older, but films were very much an escape for me when I was younger, and learning who I was. I remember watching Rebel Without a Cause when I was young and being blown away by James Dean. But I also remember watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Cocktail and Top Gun, and all those films that were big ‘80s movies. I was really escaping in that kinda stuff—quite commercial movies. And I just wanted to be in that world of make believe. A world that I thought was larger than the one I was currently in at that time.

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SPOILER: What would you tell your younger self if you could meet him today? IDDO GOLDBERG: “Doubt is the biggest waste of energy—doubting yourself, or not giving yourself enough props for what you’re doing. It’s a dangerous line to walk where you equate going to an audition room with getting something right, as opposed to trying to give your own definition of something. And I think it’s very easy to get into that mindset. But really it should be an expression of who you are. Your choices are your talent and your self, in a sense. And also, wear sunscreen.” [laughs] SPOILER: If you could work on any movie or TV show, what would it be? IDDO GOLDBERG: Fargo. I just watched the third season of Fargo and it was so good. I just loved it. I would love to work with those guys. I also really enjoyed Succession. That was just phenomenal. Anything the Safdie brothers are doing, I’d love to be involved as well. SPOILER: Do you believe in the paranormal? IDDO GOLDBERG: Yes. I was talking about this to my wife the other day. I cannot believe we have not met another life form yet. There’s no way there’s nothing else out there, right? I definitely think the paranormal extends to the energy and stuff that we feel— that kinda sixth sense awareness. SPOILER: Any cool projects coming up that you can share with us?

IDDO GOLDBERG: At the moment, we’re gonna be here until August [shooting Snowpiercer]. With the state of the world, it hasn’t been easy to step outside and do loads of other things. So it’s mainly Snowpiercer. But it’s enough for me.


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Iddo Goldberg/Snowpiercer/TNT/David Bukach/Warner Media




SPOILER MAGAZINE

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sound of metal Directed by: Darius Marder Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci

Where seemingly every fictional drama contending for awards these days tries so hard to blur the line between cinematic conventions and documentary-like feel, Sound of Metal still feels real through its raw performances and a wellwritten script which understands those conventions, rather than with dialogue and cinematography that attempt to be vérité. The film refreshingly remembers that it’s still a work of fiction in the most traditional sense. Riz Ahmed provides a brilliant performance in last year’s Sound of Metal, which is about a drummer who

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completely loses his hearing. The movie definitely lives and breathes with the actor’s every move, but what’s most impressive is how accomplished it is otherwise. We open up with the tattooed Ruben (Ahmed) playing drums in his experimental rock band with his girlfriend, Lou (Olivia Cooke), wailing away on vocals. It’s just the two of them in front of a relatively small audience, but we can tell that Ruben is committed and in the zone, like this his entire world is right there on that tiny stage. A few nights later, he hears a pop in his ear followed by silence. The doctor runs some tests and informs him that his condition will not only be permanent, but will only get worse. He also tells Ruben that he can have surgery to get cochlear implants, but that it will be expensive. In Ruben and Lou’s current living condition—their RV—that’s not quite an option right now, but the drummer is determined. Lou fears that Ruben’s recent deafness will make him spiral back into his heroin addiction, so she finds a home for deaf addicts. Ruben, stubborn and somewhat in denial,

refuses at first. The home is run by an older gentleman, Joe (Paul Raci), who shows Ruben tough love and informs him that he would have to live there without Lou. But Lou, who knows that this is his only option and sees how destructive he is without guidance, threatens him so that he’ll join. And because the home doesn’t allow outside contact, the two of them go their separate ways. Director Darius Marder wisely refrains from using subtitles when Ruben first gets immersed into the deaf community. Those of us who don’t understand ASL feel the character’s solitude as he struggles to communicate with the people around


Sound of Metal/Amazon

him. At the same time, this allows us to really feel our protagonist’s transformation from isolated to part of a community. In an unexpected turn, Marder works some magic and winds up making the audience feel inspired rather than depressed with Ruben’s reality. He succeeds at depicting deafness as something of a new opportunity rather than the end of life, a viewpoint that admittedly benefits from Ruben’s simple lifestyle to begin with. A lesser director would have leaned into the very obvious melodrama, but ours finds the inspiration within the plot’s organic arc and lets it surface naturally. Writing a film is often not about finding an unexpected conclusion, but in figuring out the unpredictable journey of getting there. Ruben’s journey follows a logical series of events, but his volatility always plays a factor in keeping us surprised with his actions, and we understand the character well enough to know that they’re never out of the realm of possibility for him. The spontaneity often comes from Ruben himself. He’s an odd character, narrow-minded and almost ignorant in his own worldview, disregarding the blatant signs around him for the sake of his own perceived agenda. Likewise, the succinct script underneath him makes sure that wherever we go, we’re never distanced from our protagonist, yet

wisely kept a step or two behind his own thought process. Marder, who also co-writes the film with his brother Abraham, doesn’t feel the need to delve into every corner of this specific circumstance because, frankly, Ruben’s biggest concern is his music and his girlfriend, and that’s enough for us as well. Marder almost doesn’t begin developing Ruben’s character—his moods, his tendencies, his temperament, his resolve—until after the onset of his problem, which occurs within the first 10 minutes. Prior to that, the director spends his time building the world around Ruben and his dedication to it. Marder sprinkles subliminal foreshadowing within the brief first act, such as the enjoyable conversations Ruben has with Lou during their time on the road driving from city to city, our protagonist stepping outside of his Airstream each morning to greet the day and the noises around him, the sound of the coffee pot and blender as he

prepares breakfast, and of course music, which he surrounds himself with at every moment—things that we see Ruben enjoy, even if they’ve become a rote part of his life at this point; things that remain in the back of our minds throughout his struggle later on. If we’re being honest, Ruben wasn’t necessarily an overwhelmingly happy guy before he went deaf. He was content with the current state of his life—drumming in a successful band, touring with his girlfriend, and recovering from his heroin addiction—but only if the future he had plotted out for himself actually came to fruition. He’s almost certain that it will. Ahmed brings the audience into the story and keeps them engaged, but Sound of Metal is a film with a knockout script that flows like water with seamless storyboarding. It’s difficult to make a plot feel like one

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The movie definitely lives and breathes with the actor’s every move, but what’s most impressive is how accomplished it is otherwise.

giant rolling hill rather than distinctly established scenes, yet Marder does an excellent job ensuring that his movie isn’t a sequence of scenes so much as it is one uniformed and congruous narrative—one giant scene, perhaps. Ahmed easily gives one of the best (if not THE best) performances of last year. The actor is always on the exact same wavelength as Ruben— contradicting stubborn despair over his condition and naive optimism about fixing it—and is convincing in both his character’s self-pity about his situation and his determination to get out of it. Here’s a guy who once defined himself as one thing and then, like the snap of his fingers, instantly couldn’t anymore. And yet the Marder doesn’t harp on the emotional catastrophe that Ruben’s going through, but how Ruben’s outlook evolves into something beautiful; how his purpose becomes clear, even if he still can’t let go of his own deviated plans. In a world where we’re always told to make our own destiny, Sound of Metal is about actually surrendering to fate, and how that’s something that takes actual courage and humbleness. There’s a subtle spirituality at the core of this film that punctuates our protagonist’s journey and refreshingly informs the story that’s being told. And as Ruben makes his way to find comfort in his silence, we, too, are shown the beauty in his struggle.

Sound of Metal/Amazon

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Pieces of a Woman/Netflix

pieces of a woman Directed by: Kornél Mundruczó Cast: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn Director Kornél Mundruczó’s latest film Pieces of a Woman is a strange case. It’s a story about losing a child in labor, so those who have experienced that horrific tragedy will likely never want to watch the movie in the first place. And for those fortunate enough never to have gone through that, they won’t obtain any of the intended catharsis from the viewing experience. The film is being overshadowed by its 24-minute pre-title card birthing sequence, and for good reason. It’s a one-shot of Vanessa Kirby’s character, Martha, going into labor at her home. Her boyfriend Sean (Shia LaBeouf) lovingly supports her the whole way while their midwife, Eva (Molly Parker), tries to successfully deliver the child when their original midwife is unavailable at the last minute. It’s not a spoiler to say that within moments of the couple being able to hold their baby daughter for the first time, she passes away unexpectedly. The rest of the film follows Martha and Sean as they attempt to deal with this tragedy.

A scene like this deserves talking about because it’s literally tethered to the weight of the entire rest of the movie. Filmed in a single take, the performers never lose sight of the realness of it all. There’s a tendency to think of a sequence like this as a gimmick, but there’s a certain velocity that’s propelling us through this incredibly-staged, albeit long, travail. To add sincerity to the matter, it’s inspired by a real-life circumstance of Mundruczó and his partner, Kata Wéber, who pens the script. Whether or not we’re comfortable with what it’s doing, this sequence commands our attention. We know it’s important, and as a viewer we can’t help but give it the respect it deserves.

Throughout the remainder of the film, Martha and Sean each handle their grief in an entirely different way. Martha, quiet but mercurial, keeps the pain hidden from most, but tries erasing her daughter from her mind where she can. She takes down the framed picture of the ultrasound and sends the baby’s body off to be studied by science. Sean, unpredictable and volatile in his own right, wants to keep hanging onto his daughter as long as possible. With the two at odds, their relationship turns sour. Martha’s disproportionately elderly mother, Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn), is overbearing, controlling, and senile. She thinks Sean isn’t a good fit for Martha because he doesn’t match her own pristine and idyllic facade. A former alcoholic, Sean’s perceived cultural and intellectual simplicity just doesn’t conform to what Elizabeth had wanted for her daughter. Elizabeth constantly oversteps her bounds, even going forward herself in pressing charges against Eva, the midwife. You see, she’s always thinking about how she and her family will be perceived by her hoity-toity community, and wants to remove any plausible fault placed on them in the eyes of her friends. The story evolves in an interesting way. A baby’s death, which impacts the relationship between her mother and father, transforms into a character study about the two of them, eventually culminating in a courtroom drama. However, Mundruczó’s focus and deliberation keep this narrative well-afloat despite itself. And the unorthodox developments prevent the audience from feeling encumbered by the heaviness of the premise—even though the intensity is very difficult

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Pieces of a Woman/Netflix

times where we can’t help but think that there’s some sort of disconnect between the characters’ actions and reality. The banter between them alternates between freely authentic and awkwardly ornate, and is often difficult to grasp amidst the busier scenes (labor sequence excluded). And the segues might be even worse. A momentous and overly-scripted diatribe from Burstyn immediately follows a flippant, almost improvised, conversation between LaBeouf and another actor about the familial dynamics of the rock band The White Stripes. Both portions are well-structured, but unfocused in their context. Somehow the filmmakers cobble it all together to make a finished product that is, in fact, satisfying to watch, even if getting there might have some missteps. While other major characters might be in place for pure functionality, fortunately Mundruczó and Wéber hold strong to their depiction of Martha throughout it all. At the very least, she is a fully formed character. The strengths of Pieces of a Woman lie almost entirely on its heady performances and its thought-provoking overarching, albeit unconventional, parable of

The film is about closure and the mourning process, and how it might be different from person to person.

to watch at times. From top to bottom, the performances are immaculate. Kirby carries the load as she’s able to display both pain and love at the same time. While she’s not always given the words, we can truly feel her agony. Likewise, although the focus here is mostly on Kirby, LaBeouf gives one of his best performances ever. The actor’s emotional nuance in the face of stoical responsibility and the massive chip on his shoulder is both resonant and heartbreaking, even if the filmmakers can’t decide whether they want to throw his character under the bus or have us sympathize with him. The director sprinkles his movie with some well-deserved and satisfying symbolism, while also leaving certain conclusions unfulfilled. After the devastating incident early on, we begin to root for our two leads. We don’t want to see the baby’s brief existence on this earth be in vain, tearing two lovers apart. We want it to make their bond even stronger. While this film is about Martha, it’s about Sean as well. Unfortunately, we’re never sure about how this movie views him. Does it judge his vices, or justify his actions? For as often as Mundruczó and Wéber go for a more vérité approach with both the natural scene composition, with help from DP Benjamin Loeb, and the conversational dialogue, there are

sorts. The film is about closure and the mourning process, and how it might be different from person to person. And how one person’s approach might actually impede your own—whether it should or not. It’s difficult enough to find meaning in our own lives, let alone trying to find it in a person who was only alive for minutes. However, as we find out, there’s always a definite purpose to be served nonetheless.

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news of the world

News of the World/Apple

Directed by: Paul Greengrass Cast: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Tom Astor

On the surface, News of the World checks all the right boxes. The photography is beautiful, the acting impressive, and the narrative fluid with a compelling and often tense storyboarding. However, News of the World is not necessarily a story that needs to be told. Taking place in Northern Texas in 1870, the film, based on the Paulette Jiles novel, follows Jefferson Kidd (Tom Hanks), a man who travels from town to town reading the newspaper to anyone who pays to hear it. Along the way, he discovers an overturned wagon cart and a young girl (Helena Zengel) who doesn’t speak English. It turns out that her name is Johanna, born to German parents. But when she was younger a tribe of Native Americans killed her family and took her in as an orphan, and it’s been

so long that the only language she knows is theirs. Jefferson acquiescently offers to take her to her only-surviving relatives in a town that’s a few hundred miles away, riding on a twohorse carriage that probably barely moves faster than they could walk. The journey proves to be treacherous with bandits and other generally terrible people along the way. Trying to get to their destination in one piece, Jefferson and Helena form a bond and help one another find meaning in their lives. Director Paul Greengrass does a fine job with his steady narrative, but makes somewhat of a strange choice. He goes to great lengths to shoot this entire film from the sole perspective of Hanks’ character, but then headscratchingly displays subtitles for the unintelligible Johanna whenever she speaks in another language. Jefferson can’t understand what she’s saying so the audience shouldn’t be able to either. Fortunately, the director is

adequately able to find the essence of this story and temper any urges to cheapen its broad sentiment. His choices are usually prudent, presenting this easily-telegraphed plot with a surprisingly effortless emotional weight. However—even though none of this is his fault—we’ve seen this tale plenty of times before and the end result is predictable from the onset, never once shying away from it or trying to convince us otherwise. Even more, because it features Hanks in the starring role, you know what to expect. Jefferson is

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News of the World/Apple

the real reason to watch this movie. The actress, who was 11-years-old during filming, has the maturity of a seasoned vet with a believability in her conviction and control. As a child performer, the young girl is naturally adorable, yet never once tries to be precocious or play to the camera. The only real quibbles to be made here are small, but still stand out, such as the musical score by James Newton Howard, which tries too hard to manipulate the audience and our emotions during moments that we don’t need it to. However, the composer doesn’t fall prey to emulating large flourishes of classic Westerns, despite the film’s pretense, opting instead for reflective string motifs and bittersweet melodic lines while still using the appropriate instrumentation. News of the World is definitely competent, even if you can find it all elsewhere. A Western road trip of sorts, the film doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre or the general “I will be your family” trope other than its newspaper recitation concept, which is admittedly pretty interesting. Nonetheless, it’s a sweet story, told with sturdy execution.

predictably likable with vices that are only going to be so bad. The actor delivers a nuanced performance even within his character’s cookie-cutter framework. Hanks picks and chooses his reactions carefully and has an understanding of the character that exceeds any expectations for him to do so. Jefferson shouldn’t have this much depth, but it’s through the actor’s performance that we connect to the subtleties underneath. Jefferson is an inspirational person, yet never concerns himself with inspiring others. Rather, he’s totally content in just doing his job, even if the reason why he does it is lost even on him. After surviving the war as a Confederate soldier, he views his existence as merely functional, serving his neighbor by providing a service at a measly cost. He’s been through a lot of heartache and, being a spiritual individual, sees all his sufferings as a sort of punishment for fighting on the wrong side. Hanks’ co-star, Helena Zengel, is

Hanks’ co-star, Helena Zengel, is the real reason to watch this movie. The actress, who was 11-years-old during filming, has the maturity of a seasoned vet with a believability in her conviction and control.

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Promising Young Woman/Focus Features/Kid 90/Hulu/Bliss/Amazon/The Orange Years/Scott Barber/Adam Sweeney/Tom and Jerry/Warner Bros./HBO Max

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If you’ve seen a number of Barry Sonnenfeld’s films over the years (e.g. Men in Black trilogy, The Addams Family duology), you may be surprised to discover that the director began his career as the cinematographer for the Coen brothers on their earliest projects. Sonnenfeld, now with over ten films of his own, has always had a hard time locking into a specific aesthetic and narrative style, with his movies— both good and bad—almost never able to replicate the visual panache of his former captains. That is, with one exception. Get Shorty, Sonnenfeld’s fourth feature, based on the Elmore Leonard book, almost feels like it’s made by the Coens themselves, even though they have no involvement. It has a lot of the slick camerawork and scene composition of Blood Simple and the wry comedic tone of Raising Arizona. Despite not necessarily being his most memorable among fans, Get Shorty might be the director’s technical best and can be regarded as a sort of filmmaker’s

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Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld Cast: John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman

film—in more ways than one. John Travolta plays Chili Palmer, a loan shark for the Miami mob. After the recent death of his boss, he’s now working for his rival, Ray “Bones” Barboni (Dennis Farina), and is tasked with chasing down a debt from a deceased drycleaner, Leo Devoe (David Paymer), who, unbeknownst to Bones, faked his own death

and moved to Las Vegas with the airline insurance money. Chili makes this discovery after visiting Leo’s “widow” and following the trail, which eventually lands him in Los Angeles where he meets B-movie horror director Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), who also happens to owe money to a

Get Shorty/MGM

get shorty (1995)


casino owner in Vegas. With the dots all connected, Chili proposes a film idea to Zimm based on the faked death of Leo and the fallout that came from it. He doesn’t quite have much more than a first act, but works on the rest of the story as his own adventures in Hollywood pan out as well. The intricate plot details in the early stages can become a tad bit confusing, but things quickly get sorted out without the audience falling too far behind. Screenwriter Scott Frank (Minority Report, Logan) employs a Hollywood patois that undoubtedly ensures many viewers won’t understand the satire and esoteric references, despite being able to keep up with the story itself, but this is never really detrimental to the success of the storytelling. The dialogue is rich as it dances from character to character in ways we can’t ever see coming. And Frank’s grasp on story and character nuance elevates the

movie beyond cliché “gangster goes good” tropes to something that can be viewed with fresh eyes. Even if there are two or three instances where the logic behind the jokes needs to be stretched a little in order for them to work, the script effectively balances satisfying humor with thrilling plot twists. Get Shorty is one of those films that gives you all the pieces along the way, coming together at the end so that it all makes sense—at least everything that matters. Sonnenfeld still leaves some loose ends out there, such as with a Mexican drug cartel subplot, as well as the fate of Leo—Chili at one point borrows an extra 10k from Leo, but it’s never explained why. The cast is excellent from top to bottom, assembled with powerhouse character actors who all command a certain presence on screen, including the beautifully typecast Dennis Farina in a role that seems to be invented just for him: the annoyingly cocky and detestable loose cannon who’s never quite as competent as he wants to be (or as he probably should be), and Delroy Lindo as

the sordid limo driver who desperately wants to crack into the movie business, yet finds it difficult to leave his extracurriculars behind. Both performers are perfect for their roles and do a great job making their characters feel lived in. Gene Hackman is also perfect as the everyman, dreamer, director-type who goes through quite a development from pushover to tenacious businessman throughout the film, having a hard time finding a balance between the two without one compromising the other. The actor always maintains the vulnerability at the core of his character, which offers some nice surprises along the way. At one point Zimm goes behind Chili’s back and gets himself involved with Bones, but quickly realizes that he had been actually dealing with the nice guy in Chili all along, and that some of the other gangsters don’t play quite as fairly. Of course, the role that famously got Travolta out of a decade-long slump was Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction, which many consider to be the best performance of his career. However, he’s much better here. Not always able to handle the large chunks of dialogue and unorthodox asides that Tarantino is known for, Travolta also just seems to understand the character of Chili Palmer a bit better as well. The scene where he’s sitting in the movie theater watching the classic noir Touch of Evil, quoting

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sort of organized crime life, don’t know how to react, and their loosey-goosey operation winds up getting exposed in a big way. Get Shorty is effective as a mordant homage to Hollywood, showing us how corrupt the business can actually (and easily) be. Sonnenfeld uses a satirical tone to justify the meta plot and an assortment of grounded characters to prevent it from feeling too far-fetched. Yet the film remains esoteric enough to make the audience feel like they’re being allowed to peek behind the curtain. With light touches of noir sketchings, a unique brand of unconventional and peppy turn-of-phrase, and brilliant performances, this cult classic hits on nearly every level and keeps the surprises coming.

Get Shorty/MGM

every line and laughing to himself like a little kid at the cleverness of Orson Welles’ writing, you can just sense he’s tapped into the heart of Chili and gets him on a personal level. Chili doesn’t play to every mob stereotype. He’s clear-thinking, straight-shooting, intimidating, and aggressive, sure, but he’s also very human and likable with admirable vulnerabilities. He’s without the sort of blind pride that comes with typical movie mobsters and doesn’t feel entitled to people’s attention— especially if he doesn’t like them all that much. He admits when he’s scared and even apologizes when he does something wrong. Chili makes friends with everyone, or at the very least earns their respect,

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realizing that he has to impress and kiss up to get anywhere in show business, even to those who don’t necessarily deserve it. Get Shorty, at its core, is about a mobster who has an earnest dream of making it in Hollywood. Always calculated, Chili hardly ever acts out on emotion, but with his brains. He applies his gangster mentality and the skills he’s accumulated over the years in the business of loan sharking to the world of movie making, and often tows the line between honest and duplicitous. However, he always seems to be more honorable than most of the Hollywood heads he’s dealing with, and also comes to realize that they are a lot more sloppy than even the biggest wild cards in the mob. The film draws stark comparisons between the business of the mob and that of Hollywood, showing how dirty they both are. Yet somehow the mob operates more on convention and organization than it does haphazardly going about their business and screwing people over without any fear of consequence. So when someone like Chili comes to town and stirs things up, these Hollywood guys, being so far removed from any

Sonnenfeld uses a satirical tone to justify the meta plot and an assortment of grounded characters to prevent it from feeling too farfetched.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Focus Features

Directed by: Michel Gondry Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson Cracked relationships can be a tired premise in cinema, particularly within the scope of linear storytelling. This is why, presumably, director Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman have constructed a love story in such a unique fashion. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), who finds out that his girlfriend of 2 years, Clementine (Kate Winslet), has recently undergone a procedure which erases him from her memory. Although their relationship is rocky at the moment, Joel is still crushed and so decides to undergo the memory-erasing procedure himself. We watch his memories with Clementine play out in reversechronological order, and as Joel gets closer to the good times he had with her, he begins to regret his decision, but now it might be too late. As fun as it is to experience the twisted narrative unfold, the film, in its attempt to present a cliché concept in a unique fashion, misses a big emotional mark. The most important takeaway is the acknowledgement that every relationship is a bit clumsy and shattered, especially the longer you stick with it. Yet despite all

the meaningful revelations that Joel, and thus the audience, goes through, there’s still something fundamentally flawed with the execution of the story. Gondry takes us on a non-linear journey of Joel and Clementine’s relationship. Not just non-linear because the events are played backwards, but because the beginning of the film shows us the end of the story, or close enough at least. This isn’t really a spoiler because the “twist” is extremely obvious, with several clues that should definitely tip you off before you’re even 45 minutes into the movie. Twists only work if we never see them coming. We expect a film of this nature to surprise and tantalize us. Instead, there’s very little of the plot that the viewer can’t see coming from a mile away. Because we know that the timeline continues after his procedure, all the suspense is removed from his situation. His desire to stop the memory erasing, or to stay within the memory world—these moments that should have been suspenseful or sympathy-inducing—result in a passive audience, viewing the film without feeling any anxiety.

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failed relationship. Watching the film, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which can serve as a companion piece to this one as it delves into the nuanced conflict of two former lovers who actually still care about one another, seeming to regret their decision to get a divorce while it’s currently in the process of happening. That movie is much more linear and less predictable, with Baumbach getting us to feel for these characters by rounding out their personal issues—and it works. Eternal Sunshine has some intriguing things to say, but focuses more on how they’re said, which actually detracts from the actual meaning of the events and gives Kaufman an out from having to provide us with actual meaty scenarios from a relationship. Yet somehow, likely due to the charming performances and the ambitious set design, despite the predictability of the story, the film achieves a likability nonetheless.

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The performances, as well, are special. Both Joel and Clementine feel lived in, much to Carrey and Winslet’s credit, but their characters, however, don’t feel lived in with each other. Mark Ruffalo, in a supporting role as the technician, does a fantastic job with his somewhat limited screen time. Ruffalo is a master at bringing nuance and subtext to an otherwise simple character, something he’s become known for over the years. His turn in this film shouldn’t go overlooked. For a large chunk in the middle the main plot feels stagnant, only to be saved by some B-plot involving the technician in charge of erasing Joel’s memories (Ruffalo), his girlfriend (Kirsten Dunst), and their boss (Tom Wilkinson). This story piece merely connects as a pseudo-counterpoint to Joel and Clementine’s relationship, but ultimately feels like it’s included only to break up the tedium of Joel’s uneventful flashbacks. Ultimately, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is more style than substance. We get put in awe of how Gondry delivers his story that we forget that these characters have little to do other than offer us an example of a pretty generic

Because we know that the timeline continues after his procedure, all the suspense is removed from his situation.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Focus Features

The suspense would come from the viewer’s uncertainty about whether or not Joel and Clementine will ever meet again; sadness from the potential erasure of their relationship. However, when Joel begs the technicians to stop the procedure, we don’t feel any of that desperation simply because we already see the end result. We know that they will find one another again. It’s like watching an older James Bond movie, knowing he won’t die simply because of the fact that there were a dozen more James Bond installments released afterwards. However, there are other reasons to watch a Bond movie. In Eternal Sunshine, all the eggs are put into the basket of this one twist. The “in medias res” trick actually hurts our investment in the story, even if our investment in the characters was already stifled. Their relationship isn’t developed enough before moving into the 2nd act, yet Gondry demands that we still care. When Joel meets Clementine “for the first time,” we aren’t convinced that he even likes her, more that he’s just desperate and wants some attention. Or perhaps he’s just humoring her advances to be nice. Her personality isn’t necessarily appealing, so what does he see in her that we don’t? Gondry doesn’t care to fill us in. This isn’t to allege that there’s no technical genius behind the camera. The way Gondry utilizes planes of action to highlight the inherent peculiarities of the story creates a unique sense of time that clicks with the audience and feels unique. The potentially-complicated trajectory is always easy to grasp, which is a big win for the filmmaker.

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Death Spa/Dark Sky Films/MPI

death spa (1989)

Directed by: Michael Fischa Cast: William Bumiller, Brenda Bakke, Merritt Butrick

The 1980s were lousy with gimmicky horror films. Death Spa technically didn’t see its straightto-video release in North America until 1990, but it just further proves how decades don’t culturally end until a couple years after the new one begins. The film, set in a health spa/gym, seemingly patroned only by attractive yuppies, has its fair share of ‘80s staples: DayGlo leotards, a heavy synth-noir musical score, neon-refracting glass brick, computer passwords that are neither case sensitive nor hidden by asterisks—not to mention, principal photography that took place in 1987. So for all intents and purposes, Death Spa is indeed an ‘80s movie. By the end of the decade, referred to many as the “Decade of Horror,” the genre—particular with slashers—

was largely moving away from the forthright, grittier helpings of the ‘70s and early-’80s and was becoming more stylized with pop sensibilities and an emphasis on aesthetic and set design, as well as maintaining a higher realization of premise over actual kills (this didn’t always work as intended, but it provides for some great nostalgic fodder years later). It was a logical direction for the genre to move into, and it wasn’t a bad one either, except that many films suffered from style over substance. To give it credit, Death Spa at least tries to balance the two. It tries to be shlock, but cool schlock. Laura Danvers (Brenda Bakke), a guest of the health spa, is using the sauna late one night when the temperature gets dangerously increased and toxic levels of chlorine fill the air. She doesn’t die, but she’s badly wounded and has to spend the rest of the film with comical eye patches over both eyes. Her boyfriend, Michael Evans (William Bumiller), is the owner of the high-tech health spa, and

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has recently suffered through the suicide of his wife, Catherine, the year before. His former brotherin-law—Catherine’s twin—is in charge of the gym’s state-of-theart computer system, and is the main suspect for the police. When several other guests get injured or murdered at the spa, suspicions increase, but the reasoning is even stranger than you think. As a horror film, Death Spa delivers as a gore-fest for the most part, and still the kills are either incoherent or laughable—or both. A man gets stabbed in the throat and we never see how it happens, nor can we truly relish in the seemingly well-constructed practical effect because it’s shot as an extreme close-up. Another guy gets killed by a butterfly weight machine, and as someone who’s used this machine many times in the past, I’m still unsure of how this is possible in the fashion that it happens here. Another woman dies instantly after her hand gets mutilated inside of a blender (?). The movie sticks to the health spa gimmick, and it’s not an inherently awful one, but becomes obvious that the writers quickly run out of ideas, so much so that they just start to stretch the premise to include tiles flying off of the shower walls, or mirrors spontaneously combusting and slicing a woman’s body into hundreds of pieces (albeit still the best gag in the film).

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Death Spa/Dark Sky Films/MPI

m at the

The gym’s selling point for customers is this highfalutin computer system, which acts as the central hub of operation and apparently/inexplicably functions all of these things—and is the size of my apartment. A member slides his or her card into a machine and it remembers the amount of weight they usually use. The computer is also used to monitor the saunas, the A/C units, the locker rooms, etc. Many of the deaths occur by something that has no electronic function, such as a diving board, which still strangely comes loose and “almost kills” an unsuspecting woman as she falls into a swimming pool (?). A tanning bed, which seems like a no-brainer for a murder weapon to fit the theme, is only threatened with, but never actually used.

What sets Death Spa apart from a lot of other ‘80s schlock are the mystery elements. There are several red herrings thrown into the mix, and while the conclusions aren’t totally unpredictable, there are some surprises here and there as well. Unfortunately, while it sets things up for some big twists, the filmmakers never quite find a purpose for them, and then the audience comes to the realization that those setups may just have been a result of awkward edits and wonky performances. Odd


To the writers’ credit, they actually try to construct an engaging story surrounding this DEADLY health spa premise.

acting choices often imply an air of suspense, when really this unintentional evocation has more to do with poor scene structuring and sloppy directing. Director Michael Fischa has a hard time with scene transitions and sound editing, which is odd considering he had 2 or 3 years after filming this project until its actual release. The movie is riddled with unfinished conversations and poorly spliced-together lines of dialogue, often overlapping two separate voices for the same character. Many of the scenes have long fade-outs like a TV movie going to commercial (this is not a TV movie). To the writers’ credit, they actually try to construct an engaging story surrounding this deadly health spa premise, even going as far as our protagonist consulting with a paranormal psychic to investigate the spa as well. And it almost works. I’m guessing that once they realized that the unexpectedly-intricate plot may actually be preventing the gimmick from reaching its full potential, there was already too much story there to upend and start from scratch, leaving the end result feeling more like two conflicting narratives rather

than one cohesive story. Nevertheless, there’s still a surprisingly well-rounded story at play, even if it gets lost along the way and the vision becomes muddled in the final act as it has a difficult time being proactive with any sort of action, not only stretching its way to its sub-90minute runtime, but fumbling to the finish line. This film attempts to have its cake and eat it too. Despite having access to a creepy villain, Fischa loses track of our protagonist far too much in those last 15 minutes for the stakes to feel personal for Michael, aiming

instead for a big finish with a plethora of collateral kills, when we would have rather them be spread out over the course of the movie instead, perhaps even at the expense of the actual story (yes, I said that). Ultimately, this is a film that warrants “so bad it’s good” status, even when there are moments where it’s just actually entertaining on an intrinsic level. Carried by a promising plot and truly mouthwatering ‘80s vibes and set design amidst vast levels of incompetence, Death Spa is nothing but enjoyable any way you slice it.

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shaun of the dead (2004) Shaun of the Dead/Rogue Pictures/Universal

Directed by: Edgar Wright Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield

Edgar Wright’s feature directorial debut, Shaun of the Dead, has become more of a symbol for where the horror genre was headed in 2004 than it is an enjoyable standalone zombie flick over 15 years later. That’s not to say the movie isn’t entertaining, but having become overshadowed by several zombie comedies since, including Zombieland, One Cut of the Dead, Little Monsters, or even Life After Beth (just to name a few), Shaun of the Dead almost feels derivative amongst the bunch, despite being the one that set the trend into motion. The horror film had a huge impact on the genre and serves as a strong progenitor for every “zombedy” that followed in its footsteps. While it wasn’t the first movie to notice the uncanny humor intrinsically tied to the undead, it was certainly the first to invest this much attention to the comedy aspect

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on a performance level. ‘80s and ‘90s predecessors, such as The Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Comet, Night of the Creeps, and Dead Alive, definitely imbued a level of irony amidst the chaos, but the modern tendencies to halt the tone for the sake of an actual joke delivered by an actual comedian simply weren’t present back then. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old assistant manager at a small electronics store who’s relationship with his girlfriend of three years, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is seriously on the rocks. Our protagonist still lives with his childhood best friend Ed (Nick Frost), a glorified slacker who spends his days playing video games, and Liz is afraid that he’s bogging down Shaun’s own ability to grow up and negatively influencing him. She’s not wrong. Ed is almost always insufferable, opting for fart jokes amidst seriously troubling situations. He’s our secondary protagonist, yet the audience becomes just as fed up as the characters within the film.

Liz finally breaks up with Shaun on the day that nearly everybody in the world starts turning into zombies, including his stepfather and his other roommate (not Ed). As Shaun’s world is falling apart, the world around him literally is. He and Ed have the bright idea to barricade themselves inside The Winchester, a pub they frequent every day. He rescues Liz, her two roommates, David and Dianne, and his


doesn’t necessarily equate to an amazing film, although it can help with inventiveness, of which Shaun of the Dead definitely has a lot. You can make a sound argument that it changed the horror-comedy subgenre by single-handedly giving birth to a wholly unique genre altogether. However, while the movie does seem to acknowledge that it’s doing something different enough to alter the cinematic landscape, the story it boasts suffers the same fate as those of many other influential films throughout history in that it doesn’t realize the actual impact it’s going to have in the future, and therefore never quite takes the necessary time to develop into something truly magnificent.

Unfortunately, Shaun of the Dead is almost too farcical that it detracts from the emotional resonance of its more dramatic scenes—and there are a few.

mother, who all begrudgingly follow him to the pub despite their best judgement. Wright, who also pens the script with Pegg, draws commentary on a person’s will to survive even when their life— which they are arguably unhappy with already—has recently been put in shambles. However, this characterization only really applies to Shaun, as the others still seem more apathetic about whether they live or die. While this theme doesn’t really feel justified or fully formulated, it does relate tangentially and inadvertently to Shaun’s relationship with his stepfather, which provides us with the only authentic moment of depth in the film. Unfortunately, Shaun of the Dead is almost too farcical that it detracts from the emotional resonance of its more dramatic scenes—and there are a few. This might be a selling point for some viewers, but the verisimilitude of the film suffers as a result of the wonky tone. It constantly presses its luck with the bounds of realism, even amidst this ridiculous premise. There are moments so preposterous that we truly believe that what we’re watching is a dream in the mind of Shaun, such as a character stupidly running into a crowd of zombies in order to “save” her boyfriend who’s already been ripped to pieces and decapitated. Or our main characters venturing into an underground cellar AFTER the zombies have already penetrated the walls of their

fortress, thus able to see them going down there to hide. There are never any logical thought processes by the characters; no strategy—which would be perfectly fine if the director didn’t request that we invest ourselves emotionally in these characters and view Shaun as an Ash Williams-type hero. Wright and Pegg fall in love with this “rom-com with zombies” premise, yet the two elements never seem to play symbiotically. Rather, one is almost always put on hold for the other to unfold. When the gang is debating whether or not to kill a character who’s been bitten, the zombies that were previously trying to furiously come in through an open window seem to stop existing for a brief moment, instead of adding to the tension at hand, and the conversation between the human characters is apparently taking place in a vacuum. Despite all of his attempts to have his technical skills merely serve as garnish to the comedy, Wright’s use of stylized cinematography from David M. Dunlap and kinetic editing from Chris Dickens undoubtedly overshadow the other plot-related elements. While the storyboarding and overall vibe have since become bested by more recent horror-comedies, the camerawork and composition he puts on display (which are quite often mimicked as well) have not. The director utilizes unique wipe transitions, interesting one shots, perfectly-timed cuts, clever framing, all to make it so the audience can’t afford to look away or else they’ll feel like they’re missing out on all the fun. And there is a lot of fun to be had. As a director, Wright does everything perfectly. Although, as a writer, he and Pegg have a lot of work to do despite a handful of chortle-worthy gags. The characters and story aren’t realized enough for us to be on board with the emotions trying to be evoked. This is a case study that brilliant direction

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BY KIM KOO

THE totally insane awardwinning animaniacs cartoon debuted in the fall of 1993. According to the Chinese zodiac, it was the Year of the Water Rooster, characterized as outspoken, flamboyant, clever, colorful, and energetic—fitting descriptors for Looney Tunes’ Foghorn Leghorn—so it seemed like a good time for the brainchild of Steven Spielberg and writer/producer Tom Ruegger to make its debut. Let’s set the mood with a quick refresher on the 1990s. The music, if you please: Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain” was an earworm. Sir Mix-a-Lot had us all singing, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” Beck joked about being a monkey in the time of chimpanzees, a loser. Blind Melon told us it wasn’t sane. We were all jumping up and getting down to House of Pain’s party anthem, “Jump Around.” We swallowed the Jagged Little Pill with one hand in our pocket. Grunge. Counterculture became mainstream and we were right there with the 4 Non Blondes in feeling peculiar, wondering what was going on. Television programs were heartfelt, goofy, real. The highly-

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rated sitcom Home Improvement was a show within a show showing home unimprovement as a parody of This Old House. The World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) was rapidly expanding their drop-kicking, clotheslining, chair-throwing empire and making names like Yokozuna, The Undertaker, and Steve Austin household. Blossom’s flower hats and high-waisted pleated pants. TGIF on ABC. The pedantic humor of Seinfeld. Beverly Hills 90210. My So-Called Life. The X-Files. It was the last decade before the rise of digital devices. The vibe was pensive, eccentric, and eclectic. The irreverent Animaniacs fit right in. The inaugural Animaniacs episode lays the series foundation, starting with an action-packed theme song deftly summarizing the show and opening on the origin of the Warner siblings. They were introduced as cartoon creations from the 1930s whose zaniness was so uncontrollable, they had to be banished forever to the Warner Bros. studio lot water tower. Well. The cheeky trio boingy boingy boingy-ed

their way out of that water tower and rained ruckus, alongside a diverse ensemble cast of anthropomorphic creatures and humans, their unique humor tickling us through ninetynine episodes of multi-layered fun from 1993 to 1998. Yakko Warner wears the pants— literally and figuratively—in the group. He is the shot-calling elder sibling. His tan high-waisted pleated paper bag pants were trendy then and now; paper bag pants say, “I’ve got some flair but I’m comfortable in my skin and ready for anything because my pants are cinched on.” The tan color is classic and signifies stability, strength, flexibility, loyalty, trustworthiness. It is straightforward and complements every other color. Yakko completes the look by going topless. The younger Warner brother, Wakko, wears a slouchy blue turtleneck and his trademark red baseball cap. Turtlenecks originated as practical protection from the elements. This functional aesthetic grew to be beloved by philosophers, artists, and intellectuals. Turtlenecks became a staple in the ‘70s wardrobe


Animaniacs/Warner Bros.

and were further elevated by early feminists, the Black Panthers, Steve Jobs, and Beat poets. Wakko’s masterful concerts as “The Great Wakkorotti” do make him turtleneckworthy. The other piece of Wakko’s wardrobe, a red backward-facing cap, is not without controversy. This polarizing look rose to popularity in the ‘90s with the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air leading the pack. The look says, “I’m unconventional and going against the status quo.” The contrast between his fiery red hat and calming blue turtleneck reflects the duality of Wakko. While generally a mellow character, he is also quick to explosively whip out the mallet concealed in his back pocket. Wakko has an appetite for destruction and the diet of a goat. Their sister Dot, short for Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bobesca III, is the youngest Warner and frequently referred to (by others and herself) as “the cute one”—this is reinforced by her pink swing skirt and yellow flower in her hair. Pink typically conveys a soft, sweet innocence. Yellow is a color of creativity and brilliance. Sitting atop Dot’s head, it’s like her light bulb. Dot twirls and

curtsies her way through conflict. Though she may be small, she happily introduces her mighty pet monster to her adversaries. The Warners themselves are not as defined as their clothing. The Wally Llama in “Wally Llama” (season 1, episode 9) describes them as puppychildren with long ears, beady black eyes, and white faces like a spooky clown, and we wonder along, “What exactly are the Warners? Are they dogs? Cats? Monkeys?” In “Draculee, Draculaa” (season 1, episode 29),

the Warners rationalize that since they are cartoons and drawn by pencils, their parents must be pencils and Pencil-vania their homeland. Safe to say that whatever they are, pencils they are not. At least, not conventional, standardly-defined pencils. The mystery behind their binomial nomenclature may be a running gag but not knowing their genus turns out to be genius. This ambiguity frees them from the shackling constraints of preconceived notions and allows Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner to swing their comedic bats boldly. The first skit opens on the Warner Bros. studio lot’s psychiatry building —a not-so-subtle commentary about the business. And it’s on! Questions about sanity right off the bat. We meet resident psychoanalyst to the stars, Dr. Scratchansniff, as a patient on the couch recalling his first session with the Warners. After their escape from the water tower, Dr. Scratchansniff is called to speak with the Chairman of the Board for Warner Bros. Studios. The tune of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” plays softly in the background as he approaches the boardroom. Tasked with reigning in the zaniness, Dr. Scratchansniff attempts to speak with the Warners. When he asks the Warners to plant themselves on the couch, they sprout as flowers on the couch. This sets off a relentless chain of visual and literal gags that unhinge Dr. Scratchansniff, causing him to tear out all of his hair and blast himself off to Mars. We experience subtle and extremely overt humor in the “De-Zanitized” skit, with the hilarious hijinks setting the tone for the series.

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Animaniacs/Warner Bros.

The cartoon Warners were spawned from the DNA of the original Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes and Spielberg’s more contemporaneous Tiny Toon Adventures. There are frequent nods to their ancestry via passive and active cameos from both throughout the series. Porky Pig has the honor of making the first of many Loony Tunes cameos. Giant portraits of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny are in the board room, Granny is seen lining up for a meal at the Royal Banquet in season 2, episode 10’s “Windsor Hassle” skit, Buster and Babs Bunny are mentioned in “Noah’s Lark” (season 1, episode 33). For exaggerated jokes, their bottomless gag bag is filled with Acme-made ammo like cannons, anvils, and dynamite. Another great Warner Bros. tradition upheld by Animaniacs is the skillful use of music. Five of the show’s eight Emmy awards are in music categories. Musical score in cartoons is so powerful and influential to the mood that it becomes a character in itself (in fact, early Looney Tunes began, in part, as a way for Warner Bros. to showcase their vast musical library). Who can forget Bugs Bunny massaging Elmer Fudd’s head at the barbershop and snake charming an electric razor to the tune of Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera Il barbiere di Siviglia, aka The Barber of Seville (1816), in “The Rabbit of Seville” (1950)? Legions of people first took notice of classical music via Looney Tunes (thank you, Carl Stalling). During the Animaniacs’ “Piano Rag” (season

1, episode 7), the Warners are hiding at a piano concert to escape capture and their antics are scored perfectly, thanks to Spielberg’s decision to use a full orchestra to perform the music for each episode. In “Roll Over Beethoven” (season 1, episode 17) the Warners help (ahem) Beethoven compose his powerful Fifth Symphony. To hear “Lake Titicaca” (season 2, episode 13) is to never forget it. Other notable original musical numbers like “Yakko’s World,” “The Senses,” “The Ballad of Magellan,” “A Quake, A Quake,” and “Wakko’s America” have enjoyed fandom outside of the cartoon series. Season three is packed with memorable jams if you had to pick a season to sing along with. Educational content balanced the zaniness. Animaniacs devoted episodes to moments in American history, such as season 3, episode 8, with “The Presidents Song” (sung to Rossini’s popular William Tell Overture finale), “Don’t Tread on Us,” featuring a Declaration of

Independence hijack attempt by Pinky and the Brain, and the writing of poem “Paul Revere’s Ride,” told from the point of view of a candle flame voiced by Luke Ruegger in “The Flame Returns.” They help Albert Einstein come up with the theory of relativity in “Cookies for Einstein” (season 1, episode 2). “Little Drummer Warners” (season 2, episode 14) is a straight musical of Christmas classics. The attempt to cram all the nations of the world in one song in “Yakko’s World” will live forever.


Some of the most memorable Animaniacs sketches were the simplest. The Great Wakkorotti dressed in a tuxedo to perform rousing eructation concerts in an amphitheater, set first to “The Blue Danube” waltz and in his later summer concert to Amilcare Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours.” In “Fake” (season 2, episode 34), the Warners sit ringside at the Quarrelmania Pro Wrestling Championship of the World with wrestling superfan Dr. Scratchansniff. Dr. Scratchansniff is wearing a white “I <3 Wrestling” t-shirt and is giddy with excitement, while the Warners hide in embarrassment under Groucho Marx masks. Wakko proclaims the wrestling action to be fake. This takes me back to my childhood… I similarly dropped that f-bomb on my mom and she never enjoyed wrestling the same way again. I miss the way she shrieked

and yelled at the TV. Anyway, Lordo the World Champion overhears the end of Dr. Scratchansniff yelling at the Warners that “It’s… not… FAKE!” in one of those embarrassing roomgoes-silent-while-you’re-sayingsomething-damning moments, and questions who uttered such blasphemy. Lordo drags Dr. Scratchansniff into the ring to teach him a lesson and the rest of the gag is spent watching Yakko, Wakko, and Dot react viscerally as we hear Dr. Scratchansniff being pummeled in the ring offscreen. We finally see Dr. Scratchansniff front-kicked back to his seat. As he lays broken and flattened on the floor, Yakko closes out with a sheepish, smirky grin saying, “Hey, I guess it’s not fake after all.” Dr. Scratchansniff is just one in an ensemble of characters in Animaniacs. A murine megalomaniac and his unwitting sidekick, Pinky and the Brain, plotted to take over the world (and eventually got their own show). There were the two Hip Hippos, the curious toddler Mindy and her faithful dog Buttons, the veteran toon Slappy Squirrel, the gangster wise-cracking Goodfeathers pigeons, the singing shelter cat Rita (because, Bernadette Peters) and dog Runt. A roulette of shorts added to the variety. There was Collin, the adorable rambling blue-capped, red-headed boy who delivers dead pan stories about Randy Beaman (“One time…. Ok bye”). Randy Beaman by proxy. I mean, once you know someone has laughed bologna out of their nose you feel like you know them. Mr. Skull Head/”Good Idea, Bad Idea.” “Mime Time.” “Dot’s Poetry Corner.” “Katie Kaboom.” “Useless Facts” (Starfish have no brains). The stochastic flow of the sketches was part of the show’s charm. The expected variety in the sketches gave us something to look forward to every episode. These random segments were the sprinkles on the show’s giant sundae of fun. When Warner Bros. Animation announced a reboot of Animaniacs with Hulu, it was hard not to be both thrilled and terrified. Would it be faithful to the original, or an unpleasant derivative? Certain things from the ‘90s should never make a comeback (car window hand

cranks and skipping Discmans need to stay buried). But Animaniacs? They suffered an inglorious fate after switching to the then-new WB network which intended for the show to live under kids programming—how it was sold to advertisers—which it wasn’t exactly suited for. Animaniacs languished in limbo for a couple of years, cobbling together a few episodes from unused content before being cast aside for Pokémon. The revival debuted in the fall of 2020. A second Jurassic Park spoof opens the new episode. A bright beaming sunrise appears behind a hilltop and casts a shadow from a figure emerging on the horizon. The shadow takes the shape of a brontosaurus, then quickly separates into three distinct figures. We see the numinous hilltop figures fill with color and sharpen into our favorite hyperactive trio. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot leap and prance their way down the grassy hilltop, frisky in their new clean vector lines. Cartoon Steven Spielberg walks through with an introduction, saying he has reanimated the previously thought-tobe extinct cartoons and assures the april 2021|

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audience that the Warners are still zany to the max. This new thirteen episode season (versus the 35 episodes in the original season 1) retains the bitingly satirical, referential slapstick cartoon humor. The updated theme song is characteristically meta in reflecting on the resurrection and new contracts. Significantly, “Dot is cute,” has been changed to, “Dot has wit.” This seems less about her growth— for didn’t she always have wit?—and more about the writers’ attempts to remove objectification. Noting current cultural paradigms, Dot more accurately represents the perception of females in the 2020s.

The heart of Animaniacs beats strongly. There’s definitely still baloney in their slacks. Yakko catches up on their missed twenty-two years by downloading information— literally. He swallows the proverbial pill in the form of a tablet device (metallic gray, neither blue nor red) containing “the sum of all human knowledge.” Pinky and the Brain, who enjoyed their own spin-off series for four seasons, join the revival, still bent on trying to take over the world. We learn that Brain has been busy during his time off screen inventing the internet, while Pinky gets woke with “rigorous psychotherapy” for his codependent and abusive relationship with Brain. Original voice actors Rob Paulsen (Yakko, Pinky, Dr. Scratchansniff), Jess Harnell (Wakko), Tress MacNeille (Dot), and Maurice LaMarche (Brain) have returned. They sound a bit different with age, particularly MacNeille, but hearing the same voices is a big relief for those of us who knew the original. The Animaniacs riff on topical issues as expected. Internet addiction, political corruption (“In politics, lies are just facts that haven’t been repeated enough,” says Brain. “Ain’t that the truth”, replies Pinky), blackmail via nose-picking photos (“Wait until they see where you wiped it”), Monsanto, Fox News, the American healthcare system. The Warners continue their role as slapstick superheroes by attacking offensive people and behaviors like

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Animaniacs/Warner Bros.

FIRST, THE GOOD:


Nickelwise, a parody of Stephen King’s terrifying It clown Pennywise, and manspreading. They continue to direct their mayhem on crude, boorish meanies and genuinely unacceptable behavior, bullies and corrupt politicians, and defeat them with their unstoppable humor. Brain sings about Brownian motion while he and Pinky are suspended in a tornado created by a child who swallows a quantum meteorite. “Math-terpiece Theater.” Anvils. The fates of the non-returning characters are acknowledged.

THE CHANGES:

Visually, the Warners have been simplified. Now there’s only one black dot under their feet instead of two. Yakko’s pants have lost their pleats above the waist. The fifth petal of the yellow flower on Dot’s head has dropped off. There is loss of joints and overall softness. The result is they look a little flatter and a little more 2D. The Acme Labs home of Pinky and the Brain has also been given a subtle facelift. Sleek glass panels replace paneled windows and a visual treatment has been added to the Acme Labs sign. Stout and surly chairman Thaddeus Plotz (T.P.) has been replaced by Nora Rita Norita, a choker-wearing (edgy ‘90s accessory!) female of color who “believes in pulling the ladder up after her.” There are less big smooches.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

The music. The musical score in the reboot is less synchronized to

the action and often in discord. The “First Ladies” song is flat, unmemorable, and rushed (as Dot states). The reduced ensemble cast detracts from the fun of the original variety show format; it’s like ordering a veggie pizza that only has broccoli and onions on it. Or a meat supreme pie that only has pepperoni and a sprinkle of sausage. Gnome in the mouth. Too much screaming. We don’t need more screaming. A few preachy non-partisan parodies. The original Animaniacs episodes were so successful in balancing the tone between providing commentary without lecturing that the moments it goes over give pause here. Ultimately, there’s no bad. The revival is a success. The unfettered comedy is still there and we get the same feels. The Animaniacs themselves have a contagious joie de vivre. They burst like freshly dropped Alka-Seltzer tablets with jokes bubbling here, there, and everywhere. Their effusive candor is still obscenely honest and selfaware. It’s over-the-top served matter-of-factly. It gives us that sort of fall back, kick-your-legs-in-theair-and-clutch-your-sides laughter. There’s a euphoric freedom in the falderal that is non-offensive; it is a relief to soak in such comedy. These satirical off-the-wall cartoons are soup for the soul. While a release date for season 2 has yet to be revealed, the season 3 renewal of ten episodes has already been announced. Stay tuned! That’s all, folks. april 2021|

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Batman The Killing Joke/DC Comics/Alan Moore/Spider-Man/Marvel

batman: the killing joke complete series

Written by: Alan Moore | art by: Brian Bolland | colors by: John Higgins

This isn’t your typical Batman comic. Released in 1988 The Killing Joke has stood the test of time. Batman vs. Joker might be the most oversaturated rivalry in the history of comic books, but this is the story that set the bar—a bar that 33 years later is still yet to have been eclipsed. The dark tone and gritty style alone are enough to pull you in and keep you interested, but everything from the art to the story is about as good as it gets. To me this is the comic that makes the Joker the most beloved villain of all time, as well as one of the first to really delve into the root of the evilness of its villain—a trend that’s been copied hundreds of times since. The Joker is such a complex

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The bad

This will be short and sweet. If you prefer the popcorn, PG Batman comics then The Killing Joke is probably is not for you, but if you like the grittier, rated M style, then there isn’t a single bad thing to say about this series.

Batman and Batman Returns, has been swearing by this claim since the ‘80s, and it’s hard to dispute. Sympathizing with our villains has become so prevalent across all types of media these days, and The Killing Joke is one of the first and best to do so. It puts all the best things about the Joker on full display. There’s nothing heroic about the villain, and yet something about him is just so damn intriguing that we still love him, if not love to hate him. Many of us likely sympathize with his mental illness, and it’s hard not to laugh at his twisted sense of humor, especially for comic book standards. It’s hard to imagine that any comic book fan over the age of 15 hasn’t read this one yet, but if for some crazy reason you haven’t (or, even crazier, never heard of it), then you need to pick it up now.

score

10

The Veredict

Not only is The Killing Joke arguably the best Batman comic of all time, but it’s possibly one of the best COMIC BOOKS of all time. Tim Burton, who directed

Silver Surfer/Marvel

The Good

character that, in a world where Marvel and DC only make movies starring the heroes, the fans NEEDED to see the world from the Joker’s point of view. 2019’s Joker, loosely based on this oneshot, made a billion dollars. And not to take away at all from Todd Phillips, Joaquin Phoenix, or the rest of the cast and crew by any means, but that movie never would’ve happened if not for The Killing Joke. The tones are identical, and given how talented of a director Phillips has proven to be over the years I have to think that was done intentionally.


the amazing spider-man

#58

Written by: Nick Spencer | pencils by: Marcelo Ferreira | Inks by: Wayne Faucher | Colors by: Morry Hollowell start out on. That’s not really an uncommon thing in comics, so it’s not a knock specifically for this book only. However, I would say that this issue falls into that trap of being essentially just another Spider-Man comic book.

The Veredict The good

The action in this comic is a lot of fun. With major superheroes like Spider-Man there can be only so many times where he fights with Venom or the Green Goblin before it feels redundant, so when the writers hit with a much lesser know villain that’s always a big plus. There’s also a lot more heart than I expected in this one, which is by and large the best aspect of the comic.

I like the aspect of the story where all of the main characters’ pasts come back to haunt them. There was something cool about that that added a little umph. Overall, this is by no means a bad or boring comic, but it does feel like just another Spider-Man issue with nothing to really point to that makes this stand out from hundreds of others.

score

7.0

The bad

I’ve always preferred a limited series as opposed to what feels like a never-ending one. The stakes in a series that has 5 to 8 issues just seem much higher than one where it really doesn’t matter which issue you april 2021|

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future state: aquaman #1

Written by: Brandon Thomas | art by: Daniel Sampere | Colors by: Adriano Lucas

The good

The art in this book is absolutely fantastic. Story is the most important quality in any comic, but certain superheroes, Aquaman being one of them, have to jump off the page and leave a strong visual impression. The story is excellent here, but the art is what really does it for me. As a compliment to the artwork, the character development is also executed perfectly. Both leads seem way more badass than I was expecting them to be going in. Then there’s the ending. You gotta end strong if you want the fans to even consider picking up issue #2, and I absolutely couldn’t wait to see what comes next. Saying this comic ended strong would be putting it mildly.

The bad

The Future State comic series has been very successful thus far and Aquaman is easily one of the most popular superheroes (now more than ever), so maybe this one sells itself. But at first glance the premise doesn’t make it feel like a must-read

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score by any means. Fortunately that’s not the case.

The Veredict

If you just read the overview of this Aquaman series you might not be all that intrigued, but once you pick up this issue you’ll fly right through it and be excited for what issue #2 might bring. Everybody knows DC Comics underwhelm in comparison to Marvel, but this was easily one of the best I’ve ever read from the publisher.

9.5


Aquaman/DC Comics/100 Bullets/Vertigo

100 Bullets #62 Written by: Brian Azzarello | art by: Eduardo Risso | Colors by: Patricia Mulvihill

The good

This is the first comic book I’ve ever read where the use of colors is by far my favorite aspect. The whole art team killed it with this issue, but the stylistic use of colors in particular is what takes this book to the next level. The blending of reds and oranges, then filled in with this eerie dark tone is a perfect mood-setter and an aesthetic even the best of comic books rarely utilize to its full potential.

The bad

I can sit here and nitpick about the little things that some people might not like, such as the extent of explicit dialogue that’s used, thus not making this book suitable for all ages. But if you’re 16 or older and like comic books, the dialogue is only going to make it better. So I basically don’t have a bad thing to say about this comic.

The Veredict

If you flip through this issue and don’t read a single word it still kicks ass because of how good it looks and how pleasing it is to the eye. In any visual medium colors can set the tone as well as, if not better than, any other tool at the artist’s disposal. Another thing I love about this comic is that you don’t have to be into superheroes to enjoy this. While it’s pretty rare to be into comic books if you don’t like superheroes, if for some reason that’s the case then this is still an absolute must-read. It’s a gritty, badass, crime story of a comic book and I can’t say enough good things about it.

score

10

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the silver surfer/warlock resurrection #1 written & penciled by: Jim Starlin | Colors by: Ian Laughlin It wastes no time. One page in and you can already feel Silver Surfer’s pain. Warlock claiming that friendship is his motive was something I wasn’t expecting so to have that as a main focus in the first issue makes the next few to come very enticing. We know what’s driving both characters, and we know what they want. The main question is whether or not Warlock is being sincere. The art makes his motives very questionable despite being written otherwise, and that contrast is my favorite thing about this book. This comic is loaded with conflict, even between the art and the dialogue.

The bad

The best comic books have a degree of humor to them, but this particular issue does not. Fortunately, this is really the only quibble I have.

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Silver Surfer/Warlock/Marvel/Harley Quinn/DC Comics

The Good

The Veredict

Using the first few pages to catch us up on the backstory feels like a good way to show Silver Surfer’s pain and motivations. If you’re already a fan of the character you know he’s alone in the universe, but this particular story also gets into why he’s alone (the loss of the woman he loved, Shalla Bal). Warlock, rather than going headto-head with Silver Surfer, decides he rather use him for his own advantage. Is Warlock telling the truth and can he resurrect Shalla Bal from the dead? Or is he just manipulating Silver Surfer for his own personal gain? This remains to be seen, but this issue sets the bar for a compelling series that seems well worth the read.

score

8.5


batman: white knight presents:

harley quinn #4

Written by: Sean Murphy & Katana Collins | art by: Matteo Scalera | color by: Dave Stewart

The good

First I have to admit this is probably my favorite portrayal of Harley Quinn in comic books to date. Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn was very well received through its first three issues and it seems like it’s only getting better. The series is character-driven which, when it comes to a name like Harley Quinn, might be easy to fall into the same tired, boring tropes we always see with her just being the psychotic girlfriend of the Joker. This series has proven she’s capable of much more depth than that.

The bad

The flashback sequences. Comics are similar to movies in the sense that flashbacks should only be used as a tool to make the story better and/or more detailed, and to give us a firmer understanding of the world. It feels like that’s the comic’s intent, but instead these flashbacks keep pulling me out of the story and slowing the pace.

book series to start out strong right out the gate. It needs to leave an impression. But when it comes to longevity and what makes a comic book series last it’s very important that each issue is better than the last. That may not be the case every single time, even with some of the most storied franchises, but when the writers and artists come together and pull it off it makes for some of the best comic series we’ve ever seen. In regards to Harley Quinn and the DC universe I think this series, and especially this issue, is not only elite, but a great read for any comic book fan.

score

9.0

The Veredict

It’s always important for a comic april 2021|

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