Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.



‘Andor’ Is the Best ‘Star Wars’ Since ‘The Last Jedi’

OK, so not everyone’s going to dig this headline (I don’t hate The Last Jedi personally, but I don’t exactly love it either). That comparison aside, I and I think a lot of the rank and file Star Wars nerds out there have really and truly enjoyed Andor. It’s certainly one of the best #scifi #tvshows in recent memory, and unlike most of the other Disney SW content, that’s almost in spite of Andor being part of the Star Wars franchise.

It’s just great storytelling, pure and simple. With adult themes and expert world-building—along with an amazing and awe-inspiring takedown of fascist ideology which speaks poignantly to the present zeitgeist—this is a show that deserves to be taken seriously. There are a few very specific moments in Season 1 which to my mind elevate the entire art form, and it’s largely due to top-quality acting (though it’s definitely an ensemble cast, Stellan Skarsgård gives a standout performance) and a rock-solid script—NOT some whiz-bang effects and orchestra swells (although it’s not entirely devoid of action-adventure-style rousing moments either).

Perhaps Andor won’t be to everyone’s taste across the broader fandom, but I can tell you right now: THIS is the kind of Star Wars I like. More please.

What's Old Star Trek is New Star Trek (Again)

Strange New Worlds feels a bit like a reboot done right.

Before you misunderstand me, listen: I’ve been pretty pro-Discovery since its inception and particularly loved seasons 3 & 4. Picard Season 1 was a masterpiece in my view and one of the best seasons of any Trek show ever. (Season 2 was a disappointing step down from those highs…but that’s a tale for another time.) And regarding the movies, while I didn’t much care for the two J.J. Abrams films, I thought Star Trek: Beyond was pretty freaking fantastic.

Yet in spite of all that, I do think we’ve been missing out a bit on that good ol’ Trek TV formula, and apparently the producers at Paramount agree: because Strange New Worlds fills that void with glorious aplomb.

Anson Mount continues to impress as Captain Pike. He weaves in elements of the original “Cage” Pike, Kirk’s swagger, Picard’s experienced poise, Sisko’s playfulness, and the endearing emotionality of later captains in Trek canon. Yet in the end he remains a fully individualized and memorable character. Mount as Pike doesn’t feel like a copy of the captains we’ve already seen, so much as he feels like the blueprint from which they later sprung. Accomplishing that in a prequel series made nearly 60 years after a failed pilot might just be one of the cleverest hat tricks in show biz.

I’ll refrain from commenting on the rest of the cast because honestly we haven’t had enough time with them yet. I will say that—no offense to Zachary Quinto’s acting prowess—Ethan Peck is the best Spock we’ve seen since 80s Nimoy. He’s filling immeasurably large shoes, and while his performance might not turn heads per se, it’s understated and competent. And honestly, that’s all I could hope for. I can believe he’s Spock more than (for example) I ever believed Alden Ehrenreich was Han Solo.

All in all, I am extremely satisfied with Strange New Worlds. I suppose things could fall to pieces in future episodes, but if they can keep the quality up this high in episode 3 and thereafter, I will claim without reservation that this is the most made-for-Trekkies Star Trek we’ve seen since The Orville. Oh snap! 🫢

#scifi #tvshows

Strange Multiverse

I feel like it was a long time waiting for another Stange movie to arrive. I must reiterate that Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange is my favorite character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Way back in 2016, I wrote concerning the first Doctor Strange movie that it featured “excellent characterization, stunning locations, a surprisingly top-drawer script, and a director that manages to pull off some of the most breathtaking effects visuals I have ever seen on screen…this is clearly one of Marvel’s best cinematic efforts to date.” Eight years and several rewatches later, I still hold by that assessment.

So believe me when I say I’ve been very, very excited to head out to my local movie theater to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy the experience and by no means think this is a bad film, overall my opinion is mixed on the merits of this second outing. There were aspects to the movie I thought were utterly delightful and wickedly clever. Yet there were other moments where I found myself befuddled and disappointed at the choices made by the Marvel story team. Without giving away any spoilers, I thought the tie-ins with Wandavision were the weakest links in the chain by far. Elizabeth Olsen certainly pulls off an amazing acting feat in her role, but the role itself in the context of the entire story arc left me cold. I honestly wish they’d gone in a different direction and not touched her character at all. (Perhaps leave that to a “Wandavision 2” or standalone Scarlet Witch movie.)

I’ll share this spoiler-filled dive into the film by one of my favorite YouTube pundits, Kristian Harloff. I think his thoughts echoed my own in nearly all cases, so if you’ve watched it yourself by now, you might find his commentary intriguing.

In the end, I did appreciate much of what was in the movie scene-by-scene and enjoyed my time at the theater, but the problematic elements of the story took the entire experience down a notch. Overall, I’d have to rank this in the lower half of MCU productions to date, and nowhere near my Top 10. Which is a real shame considering the first Doctor Strange film is one of my favorite comic-book / #scifi #movies of all time.

Haters gonna hate, but the thing is I liked The Last Jedi—even more than some others such as (shock, gasp, horror) The Return of the Jedi. 😱

But it felt small…half of it takes place in outer space or on a small island.

All I want from The Rise of Skywalker is a feeling of BIG BIG BIG.

#scifi #movies

Now I know why The Martian movie was made. I finally got around to reading the original book, and holy cow is this a fun read. Not to mention very cinematic (almost like reading a screenplay). Can’t wait to watch the movie once again! #movies #scifi

Rewatched Blade Runner 2049 again last night…I hadn’t seen it since my first viewing in the theater (which was quite the experience). Good God I love this movie. As expected I picked up on a number of things during this subsequent viewing I hadn’t before. Of most interest to me are the biblical themes…for example, Officer K at the end is a type of Jesus figure. I’ll have to write more in a spoiler review some time! (Also, I enjoyed the movie soundtrack even more this time around…so-o-o good.) #scifi #movies

Stan Lee has died today. 95 years old. I never got into comic books at a kid, and for whatever reason, I’m still not a consumer of that medium—however, I’m absolutely hooked on comic book-based movies and TV shows. I love all the MCU movies, especially over the last four years. I love the Marvel shows on Netflix. I love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (I also love all the “Arrowverse” DC-based shows on The CW.) So the news of Stan’s passing hits me hard. What an incredible legacy of storytelling he leaves with us. #scifi #movies #tvshows

I’m still processing how I feel about the adrenaline-infused spectacle that is Avengers: Infinity War. Without giving away any spoilers, the film starts off at 100 MPH and barely lets up the gas over the next 2 hours and 36 minutes. Now this isn’t all that shocking given the way action movies get made these days, but in this case it really does feel quite intense. I think it’s because this truly is the culmination of 10 years of Marvel films. We’ve grown to love these characters who have been presented and developed in so many interesting and creative ways throughout the 18 stories that preceded Infinity War. Seeing what they go through in this massive film and what they’re up against in Thanos, a villain of surprising nuance and emotional depth, is the ride of a lifetime.

While I am a huge Star Wars fan through and through, I must admit that, as a millennial, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is today’s top-tier franchise that I’ve most bonded with. Star Wars is awesome but it’s a story that came out of my parents’ generation. The MCU is my story. (Yes, I know most of the actual characters and some of the plot lines are from comic books that originated decades ago. But to me, having never read the comics, everything feels new and fresh.)

I’ll just say one more thing about the movie (which isn’t a spoiler, I promise): I was so happy with what they did with Doctor Strange in this story. Not only did he get a fair amount of screen time, he played a pivotal role on several occasions in progressing the plot forward. Benedict Cumberbatch is in top form (when is he ever not?!), and since Doctor Strange is my favorite character in the MCU (and his origin story film one of my favorite movies of all time), I was quite pleased about this.

If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, what are you waiting for? Go! Go now! It’s an historical event in film history we’re all going to be talking about for a long time to come. #movies #scifi

Finally made it out to the theater to see Ready Player One. Such a marvelous heartfelt celebration of video game culture and sci-fi fanboyism. Plus it’s that Spielberg magic we all know and love back in top form. A must see! #movies