TV Review: The Punisher (2017- )

Original Run: November 17th, 2017 – current
Created by: Steve Lightfoot
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: The Punisher by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Jon Bernthal, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ben Barnes, Amber Rose Revah, Paul Schulze, Jason R. Moore, Michael Nathanson, Daniel Webber, Jaime Ray Newman, Deborah Ann Woll, C. Thomas Howell, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Clancy Brown, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

ABC Studios, Marvel, Bohemian Risk Productions, Netflix, 13 Episodes (so far), 49-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This was the first of Marvel’s television series for Netflix that just didn’t resonate with me. Luke Cage wasn’t on the level of Daredevil or Jessica JonesIron Fist was a big step down and The Defenders was a pretty huge disappointment. Plus, Daredevil season two was nowhere near as good as season one. The Punisher, however, is the worst of the bunch.

The problem, is that I anticipated the Punisher doing what he is most known for, shooting the shit out of everyone and everything. The bigger the guns, the better.

Instead, we get a Punisher that just talks and talks and talks and talks and occasionally finds himself in a firefight. We also have to wait like ten episodes to see him wear the iconic skull logo again. Most of the time, he’s a depressed and brooding, angry brute trying to woo the wife of his partner.

Jigsaw is in this, which I was excited about, but I shouldn’t have been. I mean, he’s in just about every episode but he’s Jigsaw before Jigsaw and his origin isn’t even close to what its supposed to be. In The Punisher, we get Ben Barnes looking all pretty and shit. The show should have followed suit with the Punisher: War Zone movie, which featured Jigsaw and did a fine job with the character, even if they botched his real name.

The first season of this is also capped off with a shootout on a carousel. Wasn’t there a carousel scene with the Punisher in Daredevil already? Also, Bernthal had a massive shootout with the mob in Mob City. If you’ve seen that show, which luckily for Netflix, no one else really has, then this feels like familiar territory. Why wasn’t Bernthal on set going, “Guys, I’ve already done this scene before and it was a lot better!”… why?

The only thing I really liked about the show was Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who played Microchip. He was, by far, the best actor in this thing and his work made his character more interesting than it otherwise would have been. In fact, he was more interesting than the Punisher, who just mumbled and grunted through thirteen boring episodes.

I’ll watch the eventual second season but only if Marvel’s Netflix stuff starts getting back to basics and getting as good as it was in the beginning. Besides, I’m pretty close to cancelling Netflix anyway, as the shows I like are ending or falling off, other content is dwindling away and their price keeps getting higher.

Film Review: The Babysitter (2017)

Release Date: October 13th, 2017
Directed by: McG
Written by: Brian Duffield
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Cast: Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino

Boies / Schiller Film Group Production, Wonderland Sound and Vision, Netflix, 85 Minutes

Review:

“Three out of four people got an STD; I got two people’s blood on me! You do the math! I got AIDS! I know I got AIDS!” – John

McG has never made a film that I have liked. Still, a lot of time has passed since I watched a McG movie and I like comedy horror films, so I gave this a fair shot. However, just as McG is a stupid douchebaggy name, The Babysitter is kind of a stupid douchebaggy movie.

The problem however isn’t the actors or even the script, it is solely the director and his creative decisions. With McG pictures in the past, it was the same thing. All the things he ultimately controls, are shit.

The quick music video style editing is annoying and sloppy. While he started as a music video director, there is a big difference in trying to convey a story over four minutes than there is when it’s a feature length film. McG seems to embrace the style that got him his earliest work, even though it isn’t beneficial to the medium he works in now. Nobody wants a ninety minute music video with fast cuts, overly stylized camera movement and funky graphics sprouting up on the screen. Well, some people do I guess, like those who gave this a “thumbs up” on Netflix.

I can’t fault the cast, though. In fact, most of the actors were really good.

I especially liked Samara Weaving, who has impressed me between her performance here and her small but sweet role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. She was likable and hot and even when you realized that she was a psycho Satan worshiping serial killer, it only makes her presence in this film, that much cooler. And really, I mostly liked the story. It was the execution of it that was the problem.

Robbie Amell and Bella Thorne are also pretty good but their screen time was limited to just a few good scenes, as Weaving and the young Judah Lewis were really at the forefront.

Also, despite Weaving giving a good performance, her “too cool” character was presented a bit over the top and it just didn’t feel believable. Something felt off about her being the hot and cool babysitter that was really into nerdy shit with her BFF, a twelve year-old boy. I attribute this to a combination of the direction, the editing, the dialogue and the overall writing.

All the comedy elements tried really hard to generate laughs but the vast majority of it missed the point, came off as forced, seemed overly hokey and was really just derivative schlock. The character of John had some funny lines but I’ve heard just about the same shit from a dozen other characters that did it better.

At least this wasn’t a boring movie and it was over pretty quickly.

So the question is, does The Babysitter need to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Why, yes it does! And the results read, “Type 5 Stool: Soft blobs with clear cut edges (passed easily).” Seems about right, as it was shitty but it did pass pretty easily.

TV Review: The Killing (2011-2014)

Original Run: April 3rd, 2011 – August 1st, 2014
Created by: Veena Sud
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Forbrydelsen by Søren Sveistrup
Music by: Frans Bak, We Fell to Earth (theme)
Cast: Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Michelle Forbes, Elias Koteas, Peter Sarsgaard

Fox Television, Fuse Entertainment, KMF Films, Fabrik Entertainment, AMC, Netflix, 44 Episodes, 42-59 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

The Killing is interesting as it started on AMC, got cancelled twice and renewed twice. The second renewal did not come from AMC however, it came from Netflix, who picked up the show for its final season.

As interesting as the story of the show’s turbulent history is, the show itself falls flat.

I really wanted to like The Killing. I gave it a real shot, as I stuck around for the duration, even though I wanted to shut it off after just a few episodes.

I thought it may improve or that it was building towards something fantastic. Well, it never really quite got there and the build up was so slow and dragged out that I often times found myself either daydreaming or huffing markers to pass the time. It is rare that I am this bored watching a show but I’d rather watch gnats procreate than see another episode of The Killing.

The acting isn’t good or bad, it is just there. It is about as exciting as the show itself and I felt like the actors were asleep half the time, bored off of their asses because it took two full seasons to solve one crime when Jeff Goldblum on one of those Law & Order shows solves a different crime each week. Maybe these cops are just shitty at being detectives and they should’ve consulted with Jeff Goldblum.

There’s nothing really more to say because frankly, I am even bored talking about the show.

But hey, great cinematography and and technical prowess from a visual standpoint, if I have to throw in something positive.

TV Review: Stranger Things (2016- )

Original Run: July 15th, 2016 – current
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Mac Quayle, Heather Heywood, Alexis Martin Woodall
Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Matthew Modine, Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser

21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre, Netflix, 17 Episodes (so far), 42-62 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I became a really big fan of Stranger Things the moment I watched the first episode, last year. I wanted to review it after season one but I decided to wait until after the second season, at least. Reason being, as great as this was from the start, greatness has a really hard time maintaining over the long haul. I wanted a larger sample size but now I’ve gotten it.

So now that I have seen season two and know that I’m halfway through the series, as The Duffer Brothers have said it will end with season four, I thought now was a good time to talk about what is currently one of my favorite shows. In fact, out of what’s on TV in 2017, this and Mr. Robot are the only shows that I really even care about on more than a casual level.

The thing is, Stranger Things, at least by the end of season two, has done the impossible. The show has maintained its greatness. The high precedent set by the first season was not a fluke, Stranger Things 2, as they call this season, is on the level. It may even surpass it, to be honest.

A quality that the show has that others don’t, is that it doesn’t constantly churn out a set number of episodes. The Duffer Brothers don’t want to be confined in that way. They write the story and however many episodes they need to tell it, is what they make. It isn’t a show bogged down by filler episodes or dragging its ass because more episodes mean more advertising revenue. I hope all other streaming shows follow suit and realize that this is probably the best way to present a show. I mean imagine if a movie just introduced a random character out of nowhere and then distracted you for a significant amount of time, disrupting the overall narrative? (*cough – Matt Damon in Interstellar)

I’ve never been a big fan of kid actors, especially in ensembles. It barely ever works out but the 1980s were a strange decade where a lot of child ensemble films just worked. This show is a true throwback to that because these kids are magic together. And maybe we’re coming into some child actor renaissance, as It also featured a great young ensemble cast. That film also featured Finn Wolfhard from this show, so maybe he is a magic ingredient.

Stranger Things is three parts 80s Stephen King, two parts John Carpenter, one part The Goonies, one part Monster Squad, one part E.T. with a John Hughes floater. This is probably why it is such a popular show with people my age, those of us who were the age of these kids in the same decade it takes place. The show also resonates with a younger generation too but that’s probably because this is a real 80s throwback and the 80s were infinitely cooler than today’s pop culture. Hopefully, the show’s popularity has inspired younger people to look at this show’s influences because I’d rather watch anything this is an homage to than Scream Queens or the television remakes of Teen Wolf or Scream.

This is a stupendous show. Really, it’s fucking amazing and even that feels like an understatement. It was a breath of fresh air that entered our pop culture scene a year ago and hopefully, stays fresh over its upcoming final two seasons. If not, I’ll have to adjust my rating and express my loss of enthusiasm. But, at the midway mark, it deserves the benefit of the doubt.

TV Review: Hemlock Grove (2013-2015)

Original Run: April 19th, 2013 – October 23rd, 2015
Created by: Brian McGreevy
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
Music by: Nathan Barr
Cast: Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, Freya Tingley, Dougray Scott, Tiio Horn, Joel de la Fuente, Madeleine Martin, Camille De Pazzis, Lili Taylor, Madeline Brewer

Gaumont International Television, ShineBox SMC, United Bongo Drum, Inc., Netflix, 33 Episodes, 45-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2014.

Hemlock Grove is a Netflix Original Series. I’m watching through all of their shows in an effort to do a list ranking them in the near future.

This was a much better show than I thought it would be. I was wondering if it would be more like True Blood or more like that atrocious piece of shit Twilight. It was definitely more or less its own thing but aligned on the True Blood side of the equation, in that it was very adult, didn’t deal so much with teenage love, had no sparkly bitch vampires and served up a decent amount of gore.

The early episodes aren’t well acted in some spots but it does improve. The style of the show is also unique in that it goes into the werewolf and vampire, or in this case “upir”, mythos but there is a lot more to the supernatural and bizarre here. It also brings in a heavy science element that makes this show not seem like a redundant recycle of all the other popular supernatural shows that are out right now.

It’s not a great show by any stretch but it is good, at least the first season. The plot thread of the second season wasn’t on the same level as the first, in my opinion, but it still provided enough to keep me interested and looking forward to season 3, when and if it ever drops. So far, season 3 has not been announced.

The first season worked really well on its own and if it had been a one off, it would probably be well-regarded and have created a cult following. The second season takes away some of the magic of the first but it is really a trade off for going deeper into the secrets of the show. I’m fine with that though.

Update:

The show went out with a serious whimper. More like a big bowl of WTF in the worst way possible.

Film Review: I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (2017)

Release Date: January 19th, 2017 (Sundance)
Directed by: Macon Blair
Written by: Macon Balir
Music by: Brooke Blair, Will Blair
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, Jane Levy, David Yow, Devon Graye

Film Science, XYZ Films, Netflix, 96 Minutes

Review:

“I don’t want a pay-off.” – Ruth, “Well, then I’m confused. What do you want?” – Chris Rumack, “For people to not be assholes.” – Ruth

I have always liked Melanie Lynskey and even thought that Charlie Sheen was an idiot for not hooking up with her on a full-time basis on Two and a Half Men. Mainly, because she was much better than the typical girls Charlie dated, even if she was a bit crazy.

Elijah Wood has always been an interesting actor to me, working in so many great independent pictures and even being the centerpiece of a massive blockbuster franchise with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Seeing these two come together for this film really peaked my interest. Plus, Jane Levy, who is making a name for herself in pictures with a darker tone, is also in this and I’m growing to like her as I see more of her.

Sadly, despite this film getting off to a great start, things quickly fizzle out and get a bit too over the top in a way that seems too forced.

The film starts out as an endearing sort of romantic comedy about a woman that is sick of the world and the people in it. She finds a weird but pretty cool guy and they go on an adventure together, trying to track down her stolen stuff. The film then gets darker and darker to the point where it is hard to keep the emotional connection you made with these characters earlier on in the film and honestly, you completely lose touch with them.

It is mostly enjoyable but it started out looking like it could be something exceptional and it just released its hold on you and became a disheveled mess. Suddenly, it was like it was trying too hard to be cool and shocking and the last act of the film just felt misguided and out of place.

I mostly liked the movie but ultimately, it let me down.

Also, the filmmakers should have learned more about the behaviors of snakes before making the appearance of one a somewhat important development at the end of the picture.

Film Review: Death Note (2017)

Release Date: August 25th, 2017
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, Jeremy Slater
Based on: Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata
Music by: Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross
Cast: Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, Keith Stanfield, Paul Nakauchi, Shea Wingham, Willem Dafoe

Vertigo Entertainment, Witten Pictures, Lin Pictures, Viz Pictures, 100 Minutes

Review:

“You’re the one who flew into the sun, I’m just here to make sure you burn!” – L

This review is going to start with a bit of a rant.

When the trailer for this dropped, people seemed outraged over the “whitewashing” of this remake of a famous Japanese manga, anime and live action television show. I mean, if there is a Hollywood version of anything from another culture, isn’t whitewashing pretty much assumed?

The whole point of a Hollywood version of a famous foreign property is to make a version that appeals to American audiences, which, from Hollywood’s viewpoint, is young white people that are most familiar with young white people. Should that change? Yeah, maybe. And I think that change is already happening due to backlash from the drooling whiners in the American public.

Do these same people get offended when Bollywood rips off every American pop culture thing and makes a very Indian version of it? I’m not. I think a lot of that stuff is fantastic and I encourage their creativity, musical prowess and sweet dance moves.

For people who don’t like this Hollywood approach or are cripplingly offended by it, you can make the choice not to watch or support the film. Hell, just cancel your Netflix subscription and bury your face in your manga collection.

That being said, I am not offended by this and I expected it. If you didn’t, you’re an idiot.

With Death Note, I was a fan of the anime, I never read the manga and still haven’t seen the live action show, but I wanted to at least give this a chance. Sometimes these “whitewashed” Hollywood remakes can actually produce great results. Look at The Departed for instance, not that I am taking anything away from its source material, the Hong Kong crime epic Infernal Affairs.

Unfortunately, this film sucked in every way possible.

The main problem with the movie is that they tried to shoehorn in as much plot as possible. It was a big giant mess with absolutely no character development or emotion. You don’t care about a single person in this film and you are just kind of waiting for Willem Dafoe’s Ryuk to show up because he’s the only decent thing about the film.

Being on Netflix, this would have worked much better as a ten-to-twelve episode television season and even then, spread out over a few seasons. The whole movie feels like a 100 minute recap trailer.

Additionally, the cast didn’t really do much for me. The main kid was pretty awful. In fact, he screams like a hysterical girl to the point that he usurped Jesse from A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 as the most effeminate male protagonist in horror history that wasn’t intended to be gay or feminine. He made Jesse from Elm Street 2 look like Ron Swanson with a moose in a headlock. Total fucking pansy in the worst way possible. At least the girl in the film had some balls.

But really, that main actor’s terrifying screams in the beginning actually made me think that this film was intended to be a comedy. I really thought this because that’s how much of an overacting hysterical banshee this guy was.

The film score was done by Atticus Ross, who often times is a collaborator with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The score was pretty striking and good but the choice of 80s pop music tunes was a bizarre one. Not that it didn’t utilize some great 80s tunes but their placement in certain scenes didn’t fit and became more of a distraction.

What else is there to talk about with this film? Not much. It was a rushed mess with bad acting a horrible script and nothing to emotionally attach to. But Willem Dafoe was cool. Willem Dafoe is always cool.

All this being said, Death Note must be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 5 Stool: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”