Film Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Release Date: February 4th, 2018
Directed by: Julius Onah
Written by: Oren Uziel, Doug Jung
Music by: Bear McCreary
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi, Donal Logue, Simon Pegg (voice), Greg Grunberg (voice)

Bad Robot Productions, Paramount Pictures, Netflix, 102 Minutes

Review:

“Logic doesn’t apply to any of this.” – Tam

I’m not really sure what this jumbled mess was that I just watched but it’s presumably connected to those two previous films with “Cloverfield” in their title. Additionally, it’s supposed to explain how the stories in those films came to be. Yet, this film didn’t even do an effective job at explaining itself, so putting three films and what’s probably going to be an ongoing franchise on it’s back is one hell of a production misfire.

To be brutally blunt, his is a pretty idiotic and pointless film. It has a pretty amazing cast, in all honesty, but everything feels dull and emotionless and it is mindbogglingly stupid.

From a scientific standpoint, this picture has the acumen of a loaf of Wonder bread. It’s got an alluring crust but has nothing inside but flavorless, soft, weightless, bleached material and empty carbohydrates. It’s the basic white bitch of science movies. Granted, so many “science” films are basic white bitches these days. However, The Cloverfield Paradox is the type of movie that will seem profound to people who just fill their news feed on Facebook and Twitter with science articles featuring clickbait headlines yet when you try to talk to them about the article, it’s immediately apparent that they just read the headline and clicked “share”. It’s also apparent that they think science “isn’t settled”, crystals have magic powers, the Earth is flat and gravity is poison created by demonic energy to spoil avocados.

From start to finish, this film is hard to follow. I was never really clear what the hell they were doing in space in the first place. Some crazy insane experiment with a laser beam that fucks up space and time because the Earth has some sort of energy crisis. All the while, this laser is incredibly un-fucking-stable. But yeah, let’s keep firing this thing up right above Earth. Then you have Donal Logue’s character, an author who is on television warning people that this experiment will rip everything apart and fill every Earth in every dimension with monsters and demons. And then “BOOM!” that’s what actually happens because “science, y’all!!!”

A bunch of other weird shit happens and this becomes a movie of WTFs where each one is more baffling and stupid than the one before it. At one point, Chris O’Dowd’s character loses his arm when it is eaten by the ship’s wall. He’s not in pain, it’s just gone. Then it comes crawling back from around the corner and starts giving the crew clues on what to do. Yes, this is really something that happens in this movie.

This film hurt my head. I mean, I felt like a drunk person that was also tripping but not a cool trip. No, it was one of those trips that isn’t horrible but it’s like your whole body feels fussy and irritated and your brain gets all heavy like cement and and just kind of makes you sit, motionless, accepting your fate until the trip finally passes in what seems like days but was actually less than two hours.

Also, this film’s script felt like it was written as something else and then it was retrofitted to “explain” the Cloverfield universe. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t written as a Cloverfield movie when it started, it reminded me of those later Hellraiser films where the studio just altered failed horror scripts into pointless sequels to make a quick buck. The thing is, the Cloverfield universe doesn’t need to be explained. I don’t need the movies to connect or even exist in the same space. They could have all been separate films that just followed a sort of connected theme or style.

As we’ve seen so far, a Cloverfield movie can’t be complete without a monster. We do get one in this film but it is literally just for the last two seconds of the movie, before the credits role. It’s also not a very creative beast, at least to the standard established by the previous two films, which both had interesting creatures.

Despite this film being a total pile of shit, I’m sure everyone watched it on Netflix this week and it will justify a sequel. But that’s Netflix’s formula, they translate views to quality and that’s why their productions aren’t what they used to be. Netflix movies are this generation’s version of “straight to video”.

In the end, this must be put through the unforgiving but always accurate Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 6 Stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool.”

TV Review: Black Mirror (2011- )

Original Run: December 4th, 2011 – current
Created by: Charlie Brooker
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: various
Cast: various

Zeppotron (2011-2013), House of Tomorrow (2014- ), Endemol UK, Channel 4, Netflix, 19 Episodes, 41-89 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Black Mirror wasn’t a show that I was immediately into when it started. I heard the buzz around it and eventually decided to check it out on Netflix after the second season started streaming there. Shortly after, Netflix took over the show from the UK’s Channel 4, as it was getting a lot of play on the streaming service.

The show is an anthology series, so there are hit and miss episodes. The vast majority of the episodes are pretty stellar though and there or only a couple that I wasn’t into.

The show started out really strong with the episodes that were produced in the early seasons. The third season, the first on Netflix, was pretty solid but slightly down in quality. The fourth and latest season was the weakest and had one episode that I didn’t like in any way.

The gist of the show deals with emerging technologies and possible side effects of their implementation into everyday life. The show takes place in the very near future and most of what is showcased is pretty plausible and already emerging into our world. In a way, it shows the threat that unchecked technological advancements can bring into our lives and society.

Each episode is really well produced and each has its own director and cast. Most episodes have notable directors and actors and this brings a real quality to the show. Every episode looks good, has impressive cinematography and even though different creative teams make each chapter, there has been a visual and tonal consistency over the course of the show’s run. I thought this could have changed when Netflix took it over but they have done a good job, thus far, keeping things aesthetically sound.

Despite its low points, which there are very few, Black Mirror is one of the best shows currently on television. Each season usually has one episode that doesn’t hit the mark for me but that’s not a bad ratio when Netlfix is currently doing six episodes per season.

It’s an important show because it at least tries to warn us about how technology can be perverted and used for more nefarious means. It also brings up morality questions and the potential unintended consequences that can come from these new technologies.

Film Review: Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)

Also known as: Gojira: Kaijū Wakusei (original Japanese title)
Release Date: November 17th, 2017 (Japan)
Directed by: Kōbun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita
Written by: Gen Urobuchi
Music by: Takayuki Hattori
Cast: Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yūki Kaji

Toho, 88 Minutes

Review:

While I have been anticipating this since its announcement some time ago, I didn’t have extremely high hopes for it, as there hasn’t really been a Japanese produced Godzilla animated feature before. I’m also not a huge fan of anime but I do regularly return to some of the classics, from time to time. For example, Robotech is one of my most loved things ever.

Well, I’m going to be blunt: this was terrible. It’s slow, it’s boring, everyone in it is extremely unlikable and it has a giant plot hole large enough to suck Godzilla in.

The plot hole made the film pretty unwatchable. I couldn’t just ignore it and it was a testament to how awful the writing was. You see, humans escaped Earth, which has been overrun by kaiju with Godzilla as their king. For decades, the human race has pushed out further and further into the cosmos and in that time, food and oxygen became scarce. People started dying, some committed suicide and most of the humans that fled Earth are already dead at the start of this movie. So, afraid that they’ll never get to the planets that they set out for, an angry kid decides that going back to Earth to fight Godzilla is the best course of action for survival. The humans then use a warp drive to get back to Earth in literally one second. So, all these people died over the course of decades for a trip that took one second with warp drive? And why not then just use the warp drive to get you to your far off destination? At this point, I was already over this stupid fucking movie.

Then there is everything else wrong with it.

The main character is such an unlikable brat you just want to punch him in the dick. I fucking hated this character and wanted him to die as soon as possible. He doesn’t die by the way, the film ends with a moment that tells you that this screaming emo douche will be back, front and center, in this film’s sequel because I guess this is the start of a trilogy.

Another problem is that I (and I’m sure many people) only watched this for Godzilla. You don’t really get to see him, other than quick flashbacks, until the last third of the film. He also looks an awful lot like the most recent American version of Godzilla, as opposed to the dozens or so Japanese versions. Everything up until Godzilla shows up is just drawn out and boring as hell. This just isn’t an exciting movie and once it should be exciting, you don’t care about any of the characters because they all suck. The terrible characters make it so that the action scenes lack any sort of emotion. This is a soulless, terrible, cookie cutter, basic bitch, anime shitshow.

In regards to the animation, I didn’t like the Godzilla character design. Also, the action stuff is a combination of traditional animation and CGI, which seems to be the norm in anime these days and I don’t like it. What I did like about anime, when I was younger, was the talent of the people who drew these films and shows. It’s similar to how I love classic Disney animation but don’t really give a shit about Pixar, even if the stories are good. But just like I prefer practical effects over a ton of unnecessary CGI, I feel the same way with animation. Yes, that’s my personal preference but I know I’m not alone here.

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters isn’t anything I ever asked for and now having seen it, it isn’t anything that I want. I’ll probably watch the sequels because they are Godzilla movies but I doubt that anything will happen in this series that will make me appreciate them.

This just barely escapes the mechanical maw of the Cinespiria Shitometer. Just barely.

TV Review: The Toys That Made Us (2017- )

Original Run: December 22nd, 2017 – current
Directed by: Tom Stern
Written by: Benjamin J. Frost, Nicholas Ferrell
Music by: Tim Burns

The Nacille Company, Netflix, 4 Episodes (so far), 46 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I had no idea that Netflix was even working on this documentary series. I discovered it as soon as it dropped on the service and I actually hit “play” without even putting it in my queue first.

The first season, which is all that has aired, at this point, features only four episodes but they were all pretty damn good.

The four episodes covered the history of the toy lines for Star WarsBarbieMasters of the Universe and G.I. Joe – all household names and all franchises.

I can only assume that the next batch of episodes will feature Transformers and Hello Kitty. At least, they seem like they are missing their honors but four episodes wasn’t enough to start this show on. I feel like they should have, at the very least, given us a half dozen.

Still, this documentary series is fun and incredibly informative. It talks to the people who were there and who worked on these famous toy lines. It goes through their genesis, their production, their release and ultimately, how they became cultural juggernauts. The documentary also does a good job of showcasing other things that were spawned from the toy lines like movies, TV shows, comics, spinoff toys, etc.

The Toys That Made Us is a solid and thorough look at the toys that actually made us. As an adult, it is cool riding on this nostalgia train and actually learning how these things we loved so much, came to be.

Video Game Review: Stranger Things: The Game (Phones & Tablets)

I’m certainly one of the millions of Stranger Things fans in the world today. I am also a fan of old school 8-bit gaming. However, mobile games are usually shit, so I wasn’t expecting much out of this game. I was wrong though, it’s pretty damn spectacular and just like the show it’s based on, the creators made something that truly feels like a real throwback and certainly drums up some serious nostalgia.

The game plays like a bird’s-eye-view action RPG like the original The Legend of Zelda. The mechanics are good, the game is fun and you don’t really get tired of it, as you unlock new characters quickly enough for things not to get too redundant.

You have to go around and collect eight Eggo waffles, similar to how Link had to collect eight pieces of the Triforce in the first Zelda. To get most of them, you have to enter dungeons, also like Zelda. Except the dungeons aren’t dungeons per se, they’re places like the middle school, library, the spooky lab from the show and a few other notable places you’ll remember from the series.

My only complaint is that I wish that the game was bigger. You can cross the map pretty quickly and even though there’s a lot to do, I beat the game with 100 percent in about six hours.

Still, this game is a real throwback and a lot of fun. Plus, the game is free, which is friggin’ unheard of nowadays because even free games try to push you into buying upgrades and other bullshit.

I have to give this a perfect score because mobile games are pretty much garbage but this is one that was designed and executed right. I hope they update it periodically and either expand it or give us a solid sequel in the future.

TV Review: Longmire (2012-2017)

Original Run: June 3rd, 2012 – November 17th, 2017
Created by: John Coveny, Hunt Baldwin
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Walt Longmire Mysteries by Craig Johnson
Music by: David Shephard
Cast: Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman, Adam Bartley, Louanne Stephens, Zahn McClarnon, A Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Peter Weller, Tom Wopat, Charles S. Dutton, Graham Greene

Warner Horizon Television, The Shephard/Robin Company, Two Boomerangs Productions, A&E, Netflix, 63 Episodes, 42-72 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*written in 2015.

Longmire was a highly successful show. For some reason, A&E cancelled it after its third season. Netflix then picked it up and continued it with season four and the upcoming season five. And maybe there will be more after that. I hope so anyway.

The show is a modern western, which there can never be enough of, as far as I’m concerned. It follows Sheriff Walt Longmire, just after the death of his wife. It deals with his handling of the loss, balanced with his job of being the sheriff of a small town in Wyoming near the Montana border and a Cheyenne Indian reservation. It touches on the politics of tribal life, small town western American life and crime.

Robert Taylor plays Sheriff Longmire and it is the greatest role he has ever had. He is accented by Katee Sackhoff, Cassidy Freeman, Bailey Chase, Adam Bartley and Louanne Stephens. The actor who really nails it though is Lou Diamond Phillips as the Cheyenne best friend of Longmire. Phillips has never been better and he’s an actor I have always liked and hoped he would find his niche outside of poorly executed straight-to-video action films.

Longmire has an episodic format, which I am not a huge fan of in this day and age where we get season-long story arcs with most crime shows. However, as it progresses and you get to know the characters more, there are bigger plots that span over multiple episodes. For the most part, every episode’s crime is solved within the hour. It is the bigger backstory that is more compelling, however.

It is superbly acted, the writing is good and it has a badass vibe to it. Sheriff Longmire is the modern version of an old Louis L’Amour character brought to life. He’s a man’s man and made of steel. Sure, he has his faults and weaknesses but he handles his shit like a boss.

The cinematography is top notch and the geography of Longmire’s world is beautiful. It makes me want to move to Wyoming (although it’s filmed in New Mexico). Hell, I want to be a sheriff now.

Documentary Review: This Filthy World (2006)

Release Date: November 24th, 2006
Directed by: Jeff Garlin
Written by: John Waters
Music by: Jared Gustaldt, Lukas Kaiser
Cast: John Waters

Red Envelope Entertainment, Netflix, 86 Minutes

Review:

This is a pretty unique piece of work and highly enjoyable.

Basically, this was directed by Jeff Garlin, most known for his acting work on Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Goldbergs, and it features John Waters, on stage, talking about his past and the films he directed over the years.

If you are a fan of Waters, his personality and his style, than this is definitely something you want to check out.

Waters talks about growing up in Baltimore, his friendship with Divine and how his films came to be. He also adds in his two cents on a lot of things within pop culture. His bit about “bears” is pretty damn funny.

There isn’t much else here other than Waters talking on stage for almost ninety minutes but he pulls you in and captivates like only he can. This is entertaining and it gives you a more intimate connection with the director, who was most known for upsetting censors with his filthy pictures for decades.

However one feels about Waters’ work, it’s hard not walking away from this experience without a deep appreciation and respect for the man and his world view.