Tag Archive: Best of 2022


Review by C.J. Bunce

Director Sam Raimi was constrained by the comic books with his three Spider-Man movies, but Kevin Fiege and Marvel Studios let him unleash everything for his latest superhero movie, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness The result is fantastic, the most ambitious crossover mash-up and blend of comic book characters to hit the screen since X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Loki writer Michael Waldron was the right choice to create this seamless masterpiece of twisty storytelling, and adding music by Batman 1989’s Danny Elfman is the icing on a (dark, funny, horror-themed) cake.

Finally, the multitudes get to witness the madness of the multiverse for themselves–the film arrived this week on Disney+.  Is it the best Marvel Studios ensemble movie yet? (spoilers ahead)

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the never-ending adaptations and updates of stories and novels by Agatha Christie, Hugh Laurie (House, MD, Roadkill, A Bit of Fry and Laurie) may have created the best yet.  In the three-part limited series Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Laurie, the always witty and sometimes dry writer, director, comedian, and actor has found the perfect story to add his signature style.  In stressing the fun of the thrill of the chase–and merging exquisite banter with the perfect cast of leads–Laurie’s series runs circles around the popular dark, dreary, and sometimes even unnecessarily grotesque Sarah Phelps adaptations of Christie’s stories (see our reviews of the recent Ordeal by Innocence, The Pale Horse, and The ABC Murders).  And even without the all-star casts of Kenneth Branagh’s big-screen adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, we’ll bet you walk away from Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? with a new favorite Agatha Christie story.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Hazards of the trade…

It may or may not help you to know that burling is the process of tying up loose ends.  First time director Graham Moore (Oscar-winning writer of The Imitation Game) and Johnathan McClain (Mad Men, Medium, Without a Trace), co-screenplay writer with Moore, come out guns a-blazing in the limited theatrical release The Outfit, now streaming on Peacock.  An exquisite, slow-burning crime drama of deception set in the 1950s, with the then-new FBI technology of planting bugs to trap the Mob, rises to become one of the year’s best films, sure to deliver a second Best Oscar nod come award season for the steady-hand and subtlety of star Mark Rylance.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

We knew Steve Martin was funny from his stand-up comedy, comedy LPs, and Saturday Night Live before his long career as comedic actor.  But he stands apart for that unique physical comedy that made films like The Jerk, Roxanne, and Housesitter comedy hits.  Why bring up Steve Martin?  Because nobody has done that kind of humor as well until Alan Tudyk found his role of a lifetime as the title character in Resident Alien Tudyk may have acquired his sci-fi street cred by co-starring in fan favorite mega-hits like Firefly and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but Resident Alien is really his first starring role, and his first chance to truly shine.

But it’s not just Tudyk that makes Resident Alien a series that’s here to stay.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How do you tell the disjointed and gap-filled history of the Vikings in the era of Erik the Red’s son Leif Eriksson?  Much like Vikings series creator Michael Hirst had done for his award-winning series: by stitching it together with good storytelling that’s all in the spirit of the legends and historical accounts.  Leif’s greatest deed in the first season of the sequel series Vikings: Valhalla didn’t really happen in history, but it results in an episode that should count as one of the best strategy and siege depictions in TV history.  The storytelling over eight episodes is so tightly written and the action moves at such a clip that you probably won’t notice the production, costumes, and props are just as authentic and grand as in Vikings.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

First of all, by all accounts McDonald’s has never sold onion rings.

My favorite works by popular creators are the ones that are frequently what the multitudes rarely put on a greatest hits list.  Like Philip K. Dick’s In Milton Lumky Territory or Stephen King’s Joyland.  Now we have Donald E. Westlake′s last novel Call Me a Cab (available now here at Amazon) a heretofore unpublished novel from 1977 (unpublished except in a briefer version in a serialized magazine edition ages ago).  It’s a novel ahead of its time full of 1970s attitude, with realistic, thoughtful characters, without cliché or canned, artificial controversy, and, although it’s from Hard Case Crime, there’s not a single crime in sight for 3,000 miles.  And it’s as riveting as any of his previous brilliant works.

So what about the onion rings?  Back to that in a moment.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In its second season, Scotland’s crime drama Traces is continuing down the path where other great British series have missed the mark.  Unforgotten betrayed its heroine in its last season, loading on so much darkness, challenges, and losses, the writers let the forces of evil and real-life struggles beat down what was a superb, brilliant detective.  Traces is challenging its two masterminds of mystery solving: Laura Fraser (A Knight’s Tale, Doctor Who, Breaking Bad)‘s arson expert and professor Sarah Gordon, and Jennifer Spence‘s (Supernatural, Continuum, Stargate, Tru Calling) equally brilliant professor and scientist sleuth Kathy Torrance.  But in this series it’s the challenges that make its lead characters really shine.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In a pre-pandemic world we all would have seen Free Guy in the theater by now and everyone would have been raving about it since August.  Now it’s arrived for a wider audience on streaming platform Disney Plus.  Is it worth your time?  Absolutely.  It’s so much better than advertised, you’re certain to be surprised at the layers of storytelling found in this mix of Ready Player One (but 50 times better) Tron: Legacy, Mr. ROBOT, The Truman Show, The LEGO Movie, Elf, Sleeping Beauty, and lots of other great shows.  Yes, it’s another video game movie, but it’s bigger.  It’s another Ryan Reynolds action movie.  But lots more fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

This year on January 1 I reviewed the first episode of The Book of Boba Fett, the show about the Star Wars bounty hunter’s return, 38.5 years in the making.  The series’ first season had a bit of a tepid start, but over the next six episodes Star Wars fans learned what was happening.  This was never intended to be a separate series, but the third season of a Boba Fett/Mandalorian hybrid, Saturday morning Western serial like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas created with Raiders of the Lost Ark.  This may be Disney’s best amusement park ride yet.  Maybe it would have made more sense to some if it were called some Western title like Star Wars: The Outcasts and didn’t have those two separate titles.  Criticisms of this season have all been like that, all of it form over substance (or maybe it’s just people who forgot to have fun).  In my first review I identified what I thought the series needed to do in its next six episodes.  So how did they (and I) do?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Dread.  That’s what you’ll feel in the first two episodes of Netflix’s new series, Archive 81 And it only gets worse (or better?).  It’s about a man repairing destroyed videotapes.  So immediately you’ll think it could be like the supernatural horror of The Ring.  It’s about a small community of isolated people.  So is it like Wicker Man or The Stepford Wives?  It has a freakish cult, so is it another take on Rosemary’s Baby or Devil’s Advocate or Midsommar?  You Should Have Left, Vacancy, 1408, and other recent creepily surreal voyages will come to mind, but it’s certainly suspense and definitely a thriller.  But how much horror lies ahead and how chilling will it get?  Is it a throwback to 1970s mainstream horror or trash B-movie slasher horror, or based on real-life horror, like The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel?   Is it more possession or body swapping like Fallen or Skeleton Key or Intruders or Get Out?  Science fiction like The Man in the High Castle?  Surreal supernatural fantasy like Doctor Strange?  Weird rituals like Eyes Wide Shut or The Watcher in the Woods?  Or is it The Lost Room or John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness?

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