Monday, March 19, 2018

The House [2017] review

The House had its moments and I did laugh, but it was kind of a mess.  Will (Ferrell) and Amy (Poehler) have some good chemistry, but I didn't believe them as husband and wife.  Their characters were very inconsistent throughout, and then they each adopt weird alter egos.  Concerning these two powerhouse comedians, it was hard to care about them or their cause for their daughter.  Personally, I cared more about Jason Mantzoukas's character of Frank and his quest to better his life and get his wife back.  That was the heart of the movie and since he was the one that thought up the idea of the casino, he was also the brains of the movie.  There lies the unbalance.  Jason carried the entire movie on his back while Will and Amy were along for the ride.  

The daughter character was nice, but under developed and under utilized.  Then the writers add public figures like the idiot police officer with a heart of gold, and the jerk city official that is corrupt;  then mix in a random crime boss with no connection to either, you're not really sure what's happening, the writing isn't making much sense and therefore you get the mess I alluded to in my opening statement.  Like I said, there are some funny parts, and I did laugh, but I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to see it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Coming to America [1988] review

Since I was 7 years old when this first came out and it was Rated R, I don't think my parents let me watch this especially with the cursing and nudity. I do recall seeing bits and pieces on Comedy Central over the years, but I never got into it nor watched from beginning to end. Now, 30 years later, I can finally say that I've seen this movie in its entirety.

With that said, for the jokes to land, you definitely need the cursing. There isn't a lot of cursing (or maybe I'm desensitized to it), but there are definitely two comedic payoffs where you need to watch it uncensored. The nudity, while very brief, is needed because one of the first laugh out loud moments of the movie is said by the female bather. This scene is probably cut entirely for public television as it was brand new to me.

I love James Earl Jones and he definitely shines in his role. All the barbershop stuff is great. The rally scene was odd and the comedy didn't land for me, but it was needed to push the plot forward with Eddie's character and his potential love interest.

A lot of this movie actually remind me of parts of Black Panther, to be honest. The African culture that was established was played serious with humor at the right parts so it didn't feel like they were making fun of the established fake country or its culture, just the characters in it. The matte painting of the palace was super obvious, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment.

I'd give this 3 out of 5 stars as I found it entertaining overall with very minimal slow parts or parts that I wasn't laughing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Black Mirror Season 4 review

S4E1:  USS Callister - The focus of this episode is essentially a virtual toy box where the main character got to play with his work friends in a Star Trek themed environment.  It borrowed from an earlier episode where you can make a virtual copy of a person in real life using their DNA.  This digital copy identified as a real person and didn't want to be trapped inside the game.  In the Christmas episode, we saw Jon Hamm's character torturing one of these digital copies to make it obedient.  In this episode, we saw what it would be like if the copies were not obedient.

Since I'm not a huge fan of the original Star Trek episodes, it was difficult getting into the episode, but I started caring about the digital copies and wanted them to win, but also I wanted them to lose because it wouldn't matter because they're not real people, they're just digital.  I was hoping for more of twist, but I didn't get one and it was actually semi hopeful for the copies - at least they would be living a better "life" than what was originally tasked of them.

S4E2:  Arkangel - This is the first episode of the last series of episodes that I really liked.  I understand a mother's desire to keep tabs on their child and I thought the idea of not only tracking them but being able to report on their vitals was very interesting.  They could have focused on keeping the child balanced on medication and the effects of big Pharma, but instead the writers focused on the location of the child turned teenager instead.  I liked that a mother would want to shield their child from the bad things in the world, but that comes with consequences that could potentially damage a child's mind when he/she becomes aware of what he/she had been censored to.  The end was very fitting and I loved how it mirrored the beginning of the episode.

S4E3:  Crocodile - I thought the premise was very interesting except I was a little confused on why a claim agency would (a) have such powerful software and (b) have it displayed on a tiny CRT screen.  I guess it was supposed to represent the haziness of memory I suppose.

Side note, if I'm sharing a memory of what I think happened, especially getting hit by car, or something quick happening like maybe a soccer player running and scoring a goal, my brain isn't going to store how fast the car was going or how fast the soccer player was running, just that it was "fast" or it happened "so fast" so it seems like the software is only there to try to catch you in a lie.  So I suppose the software and person collecting the memories is doing a good job if they catch people lying and reduce the number of claims paid out for the company.

I felt the ending was a little on the shock value side especially since I think the one investigator says the baby was blind making the death even more meaningless.

Out of curiosity, I researched why the episode was called Crocodile because the only thing I could think of was "See you later, Alligator.  After while Crocodile."  In actuality, according to IMDB, it's called "Crocodile" due to a crocodile's cognitive ability to associate memories with senses such as smell or hearing which is the same technique used to access the memories of the people in the episode.  I didn't know crocodiles could do that.

S4E4:  Hang the DJ - This is the first episode with a positive ending that I actually enjoyed.  When I saw the coaching device it initially reminded me of the Christmas episode where Jon Hamm's character was coaching the guy through the date.  I'm glad it was not a person behind the coaching device, but an actual program.  It was a really great concept that out of 1000 simulations that they choice each other in 998 of them.  I wonder what the difference was in the two outliers, but I guess it doesn't matter because they ended up together in all the other scenarios.  The program within a program was a nice touch as it could have gotten very dark and the main characters were living some sort of Groundhog Day scenario, or the program was designed that they would never be together.

S4E5:  Metalhead - I think this entire episode is shot in black and white to give it that dystopian feel which it pulled off well.  I also thought the main antagonist(s) was convincing and threatening.  Sadly, I figured out the ending and when it turned out that 3 people died for what boiled down to nothing, I was left with a feeling of disappoint.  I will hopefully never have to experience a kill or be killed situation in real life, but I would think that every move should be clear and calculated before doing anything.  In the battle for survival, once I had food, water, shelter, then maybe I would crave some comforts like maybe soap.  But to go after something that provides nothing other than emotional comfort/support didn't make sense to me especially when the protagonists had no offence or defense against their enemy.

S4E6:  Black Museum - It felt like this episode was trying to be a lot like the Christmas episode in the way it attempted to combine multiple technological elements to tell its story.  While it wasn't as good as the Christmas episode, this one did a very good job.  First thing that was great was the museum itself and seeing technology from past episodes collected into one place.  I also applaud this episode for not relying on past episodes even though it could have and it was kind of what I was expecting.  I appreciated the fresh story based on a piece of technology concerning the brain, how it failed, improved, and grew from there constantly building towards the end.  There was a small twist that one could possibly see coming towards the end.  While it wasn't a total surprise, there were still a few smaller twists to enjoy that pulled at the brain strings (instead of the heart strings).  I wouldn't mind seeing a part two to this story with the characters that were still alive at the end.  It was a happy ending compared to some of the more dismal endings from prior episodes, but there is definitely more story that could be told.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Black Mirror Season 3 review

S3E1: Nosedive - Hayley Atwell really carries this episode and her reactions feel natural and unforced. With only seeing her in the Captain America movies, I didn't realize how talented and attractive she actually is. Domhnall Gleeson plays a good robot. I wonder if he gave Alicia Vikander tips when they were in "Ex Machina" together. The end was super heartbreaking. Everything ends up in the attic.

S3E2: Playtest - I really enjoyed this episode.  I appreciated the main character's motivation to remember and experience as much as he could in the memory of his father who died of Alzheimer's.  Unfortunately, he didn't value his mind enough and it ended up poorly for him.  I liked that the episode kept you guessing and it was almost inside my head as a viewer as if it was aware what I was thinking would happen next save for the twists at the end.

S2E3: Shut Up and Dance - This episode was pretty good and also heartbreaking -- testing the limits of what a person would do to keep their secrets private only to have them released anyway by the hackers and internet trolls that exist in the world.  It was great seeing Jerome Flynn aka Bronn from Game of Thrones outside of his normal role.  I really like him as an actor.

S2E4: San Junipero - This episode was crafted pretty well as there was no sign of any technology until the end.  The episode teased us with a "one week later" card throughout which was revealed towards the end when everything was revealed.  It was actually the first episode that had somewhat of a happy ending for the characters involved as it essentially was a digital heaven that was created.  I liked this episode, but I didn't love it.  It dragged a little too long until the reveal and I wanted more information about the main characters.

S2E5:  Men Against Fire - This episode was pretty predictable for me.  I guessed early on that they were augmenting their soldiers to make them better.  I thought it was just their sight, but it makes sense that the program inside of them would also have to affect what they smell and hear as well.  This episode was just okay.

S2E6:  Hated in the Nation - It felt like this season finale was trying to top the season 2 finale, but I feel it missed the mark a bit.  I liked that the episode acknowledged a very real current problem - the bee population and how doomed we are as a society if bees become extinct.  In this story-line, the government is funding the bee project, so big brother installed some backdoor software to help them spy on their citizens.  They claimed it reduced crime and maybe it did, but it allowed a hacker/fellow creator of the project to access the bees for his own purpose -- to play a game that ultimately turned out poorly for those targeted and those playing it. 

I'll mention two negatives - 1) the swarm of bees special effect looked a little cheesy at times, and 2) I wasn't a huge fan of how the episode ended.  There was a glimmer of hope in catching the hacker, but I didn't think that was needed concerning a little twist/lie about one of the British agents.  I think it would have been sweet irony if instead they used  a bee to track him down and then leave it open ended if it was assigned to kill him or not.

The Future of Star Wars

1) Rebels is starting in 10 days and it'll be over the beginning of March.  We have Han Solo coming out this May, and then we don't have Episode 9 coming out until December 20, 2019.  The comic stories are limping along.  I'm not sure what's coming out novel-wise.  So it appears we have somewhat of a Star Wars "drought" coming between June 2018 and December 2019.  Is this good?  Is this bad?  

2) We have Rian Johnson doing his own trilogy.  No release schedule, not filming currently, and he's still thinking about ideas according to an article from January 16th.  So I'm guessing he's in the writing phase now, will start casting/auditioning/etc later this year and start filming next year for a May 2020 release date.

3)  We have David Benioff and D.B. Weiss doing "a new series of Star Wars films." after GOT is over.  GOT is rumored to air April 2019 according to Maisie Williams.  So they probably won't start writing/thinking about ideas for their films until early-mid 2019.  Will their first movie come out in 2020 as well?  Maybe December 2020?  Two Star Wars films a year from two different teams?  Will they stagger the releases to allow the ILM team to do the post production special effects work or will they expand the team? Johnson 2020, 2022, 2024 -- Benioff/Weiss 2021, 2023, 2025?  

Final questions and thoughts...
4) What's Filoni working on? [Probably a new show, but when in the timeline and with what characters is anyone's guess at this point.]
5) Do we really want an Obi-wan movie?  [I don't.  The comic stories involving him all take place on Tatooine and are not very exciting.  Leave it as is.  He's watching over Luke and doesn't leave the planet to go on an adventure that we need to see.]
6) Will we see Episode 10-12?  [maybe in 2026, 2028, 2030]

Now that Disney has made their 4 billion back, it's experiment time.  Kennedy likes working with Johnson so we'll see how that gamble pays off in the future.  Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to GOT, in my opinion, it's the best show on television when it's new and I think Benioff and Weiss have a lot of potential to bring us some good stories.  Sure, they don't have Martin's source material, but they have the Lucasfilm Story Group and plenty of "Legends" material to cherry pick from and make their own.  So in my opinion, this is "fun" time for Disney and when "fun" time is over, they'll go back to the core Skywalker trilogy if there are any Skywalkers left by the end of IX.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Black Mirror Season 2 review

S2E1: Be Right Back - Hayley Atwell really carries this episode and her reactions feel natural and unforced. With only seeing her in the Captain America movies, I didn't realize how talented and attractive she actually is. Domhnall Gleeson plays a good robot. I wonder if he gave Alicia Vikander tips when they were in "Ex Machina" together. The end was super heartbreaking. Everything ends up in the attic.

S2E2: White Bear - I really enjoyed this episode as I thought it was going to be a social commentary on people's first reaction to film instead of helping someone in need, but it turned out to be way more twisted.  I liked that the episode made me care about the main character and then wanted me to hate her when new information was learned concerning what she actually had done and then going along with what her punishment was - a virtual hell.

S2E3: The Waldo Moment - As I'm not a huge fan of politics, I couldn't 100% get behind this episode, but I did get what it was trying to get across.  To me, it felt a little too far fetched.  I actually cared more about the relationships, or lack there of, between the main male and female characters as that felt more real then everyone blindly following the rants of an obscene /comedic cartoon character.

S2E4: White Christmas - Excellent episode from start to finish.  Jon Hamm totally owns this episode and while his character wins, he also loses.  It's heartbreaking for all characters involved, but the story is so well done that I ended up admiring it.  This is definitely my favorite episode of the series thus far.  And while all the episodes are self contained stories, it probably helps to watch episode 103 before watching this one.

Black Mirror Season 1 review

S1E1 - The National Anthem: I really enjoyed this episode, but I wonder what the intent of the kidnapper was. I thought it was to humiliate the PM to enact change in the government, but the only negative consequence appeared to be his relationship with his wife. I did like the use of technology and how real it felt that once something is out there, it's very difficult to keep a lid on it. Small gripe - the guy that was in bed all day, they kept cutting to him so I thought he was more involved that it appeared. I wonder if that was intentional to throw us off as he didn't do anything else or add to the story in any way. Was the story that griping to spend 8 hours without getting out of bed?

S1E2- Fifteen Million Merits: I enjoyed this episode as well. The concept reminded me of the movie "In Time". I wonder what happens if you run out of merits. Also, I didn't understand why the other bike people didn't really talk to each other. I guess what is there to talk about, right? I understood the "jerk" character, but the other characters didn't really add a whole lot, so it was up to Daniel Kaluuya to carry the story, which he did. I never watched Downton Abbey, so I didn't know who the other actress was until I looked it up afterwards. She did a good job as well. When Daniel Kaluuya's character smashed the glass in his room, did he get in trouble? Did it cost him merits to fix? I was expecting that he'd get punished. There was no show of organization, it just was what it was. The characters made a joke about generically engineering the food, so I'm surprised they didn't mention or allude to "Compliance" being put into their food as well. Gripes aside, I thought the overall message was pretty powerful. I'm surprised Daniel Kaluuya's character could live with himself selling out. I kind of expected him to end his life at the end. Also, was their a pornography channel for the women?

S1E3 - The Entire History of You: A really cool concept, but it felt wasted that the writers decided to focus on a failing marriage. How about a doctor failing at a surgery and having to replay it in his mind to try to figure out what went wrong so he doesn't lose any other patients? They established a main character who couldn't land a job, but all of sudden he's Sherlock Holmes with his grain and puts together the pieces to figure out what was going on. My favorite scene was when they were making love, but actually just watching videos of themselves while being in a catatonic state. It felt like the writers envisioned that powerful scene/comment on society and built the episode from there. Out of the first season, this was the weakest I thought, but only because the concept felt slightly wasted on a weaker plot.