The High Five Podcast Episode 43 – Favorite Movie & TV Discoveries Of 2021

It was a weird year for movies and a pretty great one for TV, all things considered. Hit play to find out my favorites of the year!

By the way, I realized I talked about watching movies with my friends and didn’t explain how we do it. There’s a Party option on Amazon Video that we use most of the time, but you can also use Teleparty. For that one, you have to use Chrome, download the extension and everyone has to have an account on whatever service you’re using. Both of these options allow you to type to each other while the film syncs up on everyone’s computers. We thought about finding one where you can talk, but figured it’d get pretty loud.

I mentioned a few previous episodes throughout this one. Here are the links if you’re curious!

As always, you can email me at high5tj at or follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Also feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Trailer Time: Homefront, Grudge Match & Mortal Kombat Legacy

Jason Statham faces off against James Franco and his drug army in Homefront, an adaptation of Chuck Logan’s novel of the same name penned by Sylvester Stallone. Kate Bosworth and Winona Ryder also star in the film which opens on November 27th.

Just yesterday we showed you the first image from the Sylvester Stallone/Robert De Niro boxing comedy Grudge Match and now you can check out the trailer from the flick. Fun fact: the director pieced together training footage of Stallone from Rocky and De Niro from Raging Bull to create the flashback boxing matches! The movie opens on December 25th.

Machinima announced that the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II will kick off on the site on September 26th and released this all new trailer for the web series.

Ad It Up: Wizard #27

Regular readers will remember that I read and didn’t really get 1993’s Archer & Armstrong #17 from Valiant a few weeks back. Before tossing it in the get rid of pile, I went through and snapped a few pictures like this one for the 27th issue of Wizard. I was still a few years away from discovering the magazine at that point, but I do remember seeing this Jim Lee Wildcats cover in books and around the office. Interviews with Alan Moore and Travis Charest? Sounds like a pretty solid issue, actually. Plus I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet.

The Box: Mortal Kombat Battlewave #4, Web Of Spider-Man #81 & Deathwatch 2000 Earth 4 #2

As I explained last week, my pal Jesse bought me a longbox packed with comics, many of which had five or six copies. I put what I had in alphabetical order, put them in my sliding-top coffee table and I’ll reach in, pull out comics at random and give them a read. Sometimes I discover a gem, sometimes, not so much.

First up, I read Mortal Kombat: BattleWave #4 from Malibu, which seems to have been purchased by Marvel at this point (1995). This comic was written by Charles Marshall and drawn by Patrick Rolo and it was surprisingly one of the best of the box so far. I figured I would be completely lost because I only ever rented Mortal Kombat games in the past. But, I actually found myself pretty interested in what’s going on.

I don’t know why the different people are fighting on their particular sides, but you’ve got Johnny Cage and Jax fighting Smoke and Jade on a crashing airplane. This is a tricky thing to write and some of the artwork is a little out of control, but I think it was handled really well. There’s other stuff I didn’t necesarrily get and a back-up story about a cat-man fighting Goro, but I was actually pretty intrigued by the world that Marshall was working with here. Iconic characters doing cool things in such a way that a new reader can understand is not a terrible thing.

Also, I dug Rolo’s art. I don’t I’m familiar with his work, but it’s got an almost cartoony, exaggerated nature that never looks too cartoony or exaggerated. In other words, I wouldn’t be upset if I found more MK comics by these guys in The Box. Bonus piece of info: Marvel editor Mark Paniccia edited this comic!

I had less fun reading Marvel’s Web Of Spider-Man #81 written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Steve Butler. The story follows two brothers, one who decides to be a good person and goes to school while the other decides to become the oh-so-90s villain Bloodshed. It’s not a bad story, but it’s one I’ve read before. Actually, it’s one I’ve read from Busiek before in the pages of Astro City: Dark Ages Books 1 and 2 which set several miniseries’ worth of comics around this idea. So, seeing it done all in a compressed format with different characters just feels a little repetitive.

Mind you, this is not a slam against this comic. I’ve come to realize that there are certain kinds of stories you can read done plenty of different ways and others that you don’t. I feel like I read this idea done really well by the writer already and just didn’t feel the need to go through it again.

I will note that Butler, an artist I’m not very familiar with, did a great jon in the issue. His Spidey looks iconic, his characters bold (when they’re supposed to be) and he gets to work with several great facial expressions that he nails.

I do admit, there is a part of me that misses villains like Bloodshed. His motivations are the same as villains today, but that look is insane. He’s basically got enhanced strength and…spikes as well as a pink ponytail for some reason. In reality, if you saw this guy, you’d be torn between quivering in terror and snickering.

Lastly, I read Deathwatch 2000 Earth 4 #2 from Continuity Comics. I think that’s the title at least, I honestly can’t tell. I remember having a few Continuity books from various grab bags as a kid and never knowing what the hell was going on. That continues to be the case with this issue written by Neal Adams and Paul Stone with art by Aron Weisenfeld. Honestly, I can not tell you what happened. There’s one group of super people all with silly names like Urth and Fyre fighting another group and then a third shows up at some point.

There are some explanations along the way but they just wind up confusing more. I’m not the biggest fan of those basic information recap pages, like the ones that Marvel did in the mid-2000s, but it would have been immensely helpful in these comics, even more so considering these are brand new comics from a presumably brand new comic company. I didn’t do any research (yet) on Continuity or what was going on because I like to go in fresh, but I probably should have. The art doesn’t help matters any either. This was in the middle of the 90s heyday where nothing comes in a grid and all the panel lines look like they’ve been singed. It’s like mental color overload with stuff you’re not given enough information to care about. I think it’s also environmental, which makes it feel like a more “extreme” version Captain Planet, which I do not want to read.

Oh, I forgot to mention, this book was polybagged AND came with a trading card. Anyone want to trade for Firebat?

Quick Movie Review: Mortal Kombat (1995)

I don’t think anything exemplifies the awesomeness of what it was like to be a kid in the 90s more than Mortal Kombat. In a pre-internet era, this game’s legend grew to a crazy-huge stature just by word of mouth. Very few kids had actually played it, but everyone knew someone who had, usually an older brother or cousin, and it sounded like the coolest, more violent thing in the world. Ah, those were the days.  I specifically remember talking to someone in the hallway of Christ The King grade school in Toledo, Ohio in the fifth, maybe fourth, grade about how you could punch through a dude’s chest and RIP HIS HEART OUT!!! That’s something you didn’t see every day back when Mario and Sonic were the stalwart video game characters of the day. I would go on to play a few of the Mortal Kombat games, but only through rentals and I was never very good at them. I remember the flurry of controversy stemming from these games and thinking the rating system the came as a result was bullshit because now my parents would know which games were violent and which ones weren’t (as a kid you’ve got a natural sixth sense about these things). It’s funny how tame these games seem now. Being a button masher, I’ve always been pretty terrible at fighting games. My brain just doesn’t have the ability to store all kinds of button combos and my thumbs aren’t articulate enough to pull them off even if I could. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a soft spot in my heart for Mortal Kombat.

That’s a longwinded way of getting into something that’s supposed to be a quick review of a movie, but it comes from a place of nostalgia, which is probably why I liked this movie based on the game. I figured I’d be getting a pretty crazy action film when I moved Mortal Kombat to the top of my digital Netflix cue and I was not disappointed. Adding to the fun-ness is the fact that this bad boy was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a guy known for making over the top action movies like Alien vs. Predator and the new Death Race movie. Not being a huge student of the MK mythology, it was fun watching this movie and seeing how the different characters from the first two games came into play. Johnny Cage is a movie star, Sonia Blade is a cop who jumps on board the ship that takes everyone to the tournament and Goro’s just Goro. No, the movie’s not a masterpiece and much of the dialogue is delivered hamfistedly, but the action scenes were fun, the sets pretty crazy and the story, overall was fun and easy to follow. Had this not been based on a vague memory from childhood, I don’t think I would have cared as much or had as much fun and I’m sure if I was steeped in the mythos I might be a bit peeved at the changes, so I think this was the perfect movie for someone with my level expertise (ie very little). Plus, I liked tournament movies where the best of the best are brought together to face off, so it’s a good fit. I’d like to see an action/comedy look at this oft-used story frame actually. So, if you’re looking for a fun movie to check out with plenty of punching, air bicycle kicks and the guy from Highlander playing Raiden–and not very well, I might add–give this one a whirl.