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‘Maleficent Mistress of Evil’: You need a little more iron in your diet!

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

As Maleficent’s goddaughter Aurora prepares to marry her childhood sweetheart and the families and kingdoms of humans and Fae try to come together, hidden dark forces attempt to tear them apart!

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Many of the to-be in-laws, that’s who. King John (Robert Lindsay) seems fine and dandy with the idea of a Fae-raised daughter who was declared Queen of the Moors, royalty in her own right. But his frosted-white wife, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), can’t stand the whole Fae society, or the idea that her daughter-in-law to-be Aurora (Elle Faning) was raised among them, and is determined to crush that under her perfect slipper heel as soon as possible. Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) knows perfectly well where his fiancé comes from, and espouses a proper level of respect for her loving if terrifying guardian, Maleficent. And how does Maleficent feel about all this nonsense? For her ‘Beastie’, as she had nick-named Aurora in the first film, she would suffer just about any and all torments, including a strained meet and greet dinner with Philip’s parents.

Trusted crow-man servant Diaval (Sam Riley) tries his level best to help Maleficent act normal-ish in preparation of meeting Philip’s parents, but truly, those horns and fangs are all but impossible to hide. The headdress that Aurora pleaded for Maleficent to wear, to cover her amazing Fae horns, might hurt, but anything for Aurora’s happiness.

The meeting dinner goes from fine to bad to worse at a rapid clip, as Queen Ingrith smiles and lashes out repeatedly, showing who the truly evil one at the table is more than once. If the iron in the cutlery wasn’t intentionally bad enough, nearly being attacked by that damnably familiar cat was all but the final straw, and in the midst of chaos, the white Queen takes the advantage to show her true colors and start an all-out war of extermination against the Fae of the Moorlands!

Devastated, blamed for a bunch of crimes she didn’t commit as per usual, wounded and left for dead, Maleficent is rescued by the most unexpected of saviors, Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who introduces her to a hidden world and long-lost family. Tensions mount as humans gird themselves with hideously effective iron weapons and ghastly stolen Fae death magic, whilst the innocent folk of the Moorlands prepare to go to a wedding they were, after all, invited to. And Maleficent, the supposedly evilest one of them all, has to make a choice about who her real family, and enemies, are, before its too late!

The cinematography for the sequel is outstanding – all those wings, so many bright motley Fae folk running about, even the purported nobleman Fae slave-working for the white Queen, Lickspittle (Warwick Davis), gets enhanced shiny colors that make the movie really pop visually. As she so often does, Michelle Pfeiffer plays a truly excellent villain, so much more evil than the title of the film applies. And of course Angelina Jolie as Maleficent is another fun sharp-cheekboned jaunt through misunderstandings and the chaotic situations that can arise from them when people just won’t talk to each-other!

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Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes

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Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.

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Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2

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A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!

It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.

Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.

Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.

Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!

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Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!  

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If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one! 

Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive! 

So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise. 

Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party. 

The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe! 

Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now! 

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