A late, great friend of mine once said, “You can only watch ‘The Lord of the Rings’ so many times.”
I never knew how true those words were until COVID-19 struck us, forcing most people indoors for months on end, scrolling through the never-ending streaming queues on smartphones and Roku boxes, desperately searching for something to watch.
“Tiger King” kept me satisfied for a weekend, I burned through the newest season of “Clone Wars” and now I’m binging all 10 seasons of “The Walking Dead” almost on a dare. I need something new to watch.
Thankfully, Netflix is coming through for me this summer. In no particular order (basically how they came up in a Bing search), here are four shows and movies I’m interested in watching later this month. Hopefully, you’ll check them out too.
”Umbrella Academy” Season Two
“The Umbrella Academy” is not your typical superhero show, even though the story is based on a comic book series and the characters in said show have powers. It’s rather quirky, at times a little dark and the characters themselves are fairly dysfunctional.
Season Two is scheduled to drop on July 31 and if you’ve not watched the first season, I’d highly recommend it. The show is based on the comic book series by Gerald Way (lead vocalist of My Chemical Romance) and centers on a dysfunctional family of adopted siblings who reunite at their childhood home to solve the mystery of their father’s death.
Their mother is a robot, their butler is a talking chimp and the family has to stop an impending apocalypse by using time travel, all the while avoiding the assassination attempts by two secret agents: Hazel and Cha-Cha. Sounds pretty good, right?
The first season dropped last year and Netflix announced that the series had been streamed by more than 45 million viewers within the first month of its release. “The Umbrella Academy” was the third most popular series on Netflix in 2019. Season Two should definitely live up to its hype.
Transformers — War for Cybertron Trilogy
If you’re a child of the ‘80s, like myself, chances are you know all about the Transformers — giant robots that could transform into slick, cars, trucks and jets, giant pistols, tanks, and animals. The toys were pure gold and of course, like all things ‘80s, there was a cartoon series created to sell those amazing, transforming toys.
After more than a decade of live action movies, these iconic “robots in disguise” are finally returning to their animated roots with a trilogy of episodes, the first season of which drops on July 30. The trailer for the series can be found online, showing off the new animated look for the Autobots and Decepticons, with the show exploring the origins of why the Transformers left their home planet in the first place.
Here’s a quick synopsis of “Siege,” the first arc of the trilogy. In an attempt to end the conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons, Megatron is forced to consider using the Allspark, the source of all life and power on Cybertron, to “reformat” the Autobots, thus “unifying” Cybertron. However, Optimus Prime wants to prevent that from happening, even if it means destroying Cyberton in order to save it.
As much as I enjoy watching the live action movies (yes, you heard that right), I’m always up for new animated Transformers shows. Even though Peter Cullen won’t be voicing Optimus Prime, I’ll still be tuning in.
“Cursed” Season One
“Cursed” is something new to me entirely. I’ve not read the book by Frank Miller that the series is based on, nor have I done much research into the show. I’m basing my “Cursed” opinion simply on the trailer and a few things I read last week.
According to Deadline, Cursed is a re-imaging of the Arthurian legend, told through the eyes of Nimue, a young heroine with a mysterious gift who is destined to become the powerful (and tragic) Lady of the Lake. OK, I’m familiar with that part of the Arthurian mythos. Let’s keep going.
After her mother’s death, Deadline reports, Nimue finds an unexpected partner in Arthur, a young mercenary, in a quest to find Merlin and deliver an ancient sword. Over the course of her journey, Nimue will become a symbol of courage and rebellion against the terrifying Red Paladins and their complicit King Uther.
Wait, what? According to legend, Uther is Arthur’s father if I’m not mistaken. Re-imagining. I need to remember that.
Finally, more information about the series describes it as being a coming-of-age story with themes familiar to our own time: the obliteration of the natural world, religious terror, senseless war, and finding the courage to lead in the face of the impossible.
On that note, I may only be checking out the first episode. I’m a sucker for a good Arthurian yarn, but these “ripped from the headlines” stories that are all too prevalent these days are just lazy writing, in my opinion, and take the “fantasy” out of my favorite “fantasy tales.”
The 10-episode series dropped on July 17.
“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”
Believe it or not, although this movie has been in existence for more than 25 years, I only recently watched it for the first time earlier this month on Netflix. I really should smack myself for waiting that long.
If you’re a fan of the ‘90s DC animated series — “Batman,” “Superman,” or the “Justice League” — then you’re going to love this movie. Even if you’re not a fan, chances are you’ll enjoy the tale of Batman reconciling with a former lover, Andrea Beaumont, while facing off against a mysterious vigilante named Phantasm, who is killing off the crime bosses of Gotham City.
The movie’s plot was inspired by the comic book Batman: Year Two (written by Mike Barr), but instead of the comic-accurate villain Reaper being the antagonist, the movie introduces Phantasm (don’t worry, no spoilers here) as the main villain.
Kevin Conroy voices Batman, Mark Hamill is the Joker and Dana Delany (“China Beach,” “Tombstone”) is Andrea Beaumont. The animation is just like the show, the music (by Shirley Walker) is top notch and with a run time of 76 minutes, the story doesn’t drag on needlessly like some of the 150-minute-plus movies dominating the silver screen these days.
It’s a cult favorite for a reason, folks. Go check it out.