TV Shows

Halo (Ongoing)

Will post updates at the top as episodes come in.

Episode Nine

Well that was quite the emotionally satisfying finale! The story of Makee and John was short lived, and tragic in so many ways. Some don’t ever heal from the wounds of the past, and the indoctrinations of their future. This timeline’s John 117 was lucky enough to let go of both, and became the unstoppable Master Chief from the games. But now, I’ve formed a deep connection with the soul inside the shell and I wish to see it return.

The action was middling because the guns for his allies had seemingly infinite ammo while yet again Chief is switching it up. Hopefully this improves for the second season. And yea, finally I had the reaction of “please, you are in unknown space with your ship, them helmets should be on at all times.” Yet, I wouldn’t get to experience the actors and actresses’ faces as they delight in the possibility of the spectacle unfolding. So, I’m willing to forgive that detail.

The soundtrack was soaring, epic, and right on cue for the emotional bits. The CGI certainly improved in certain spots such as the prophets. Speaking of, reading people complain that they would never bow to a human… Oh wow, look, it’s as if the villains are capable of having long-standing plans to achieve their goals.

Overall, it was good ending to the first season. Characters are developed, heroes are defined, anti-heroes and villains as well. Worldbuilding has been established, hints have been dropped for more potential places. And the story now has a new jumping point: the possible location of the Halo ring.

Episode Eight

Could you imagine hating a TV show because the main character, god forbid, kissed someone? And then had sex? Wow, way to announce to the entire world that you, as a critic, are a sexless, virgin. Oh no, your science fiction character gets more action than you? Time to draw the line, this is a bad show! If this is what drew the line for you, then you haven’t been paying attention to the very show you’ve been hired to critique!

Imagine you’ve had no emotions your entire life, and, for the first time ever, are experiencing the chemical imbalance known as lust and love. Imagine you’ve been chemically castrated by the government, by those you live to serve. Imagine you’ve realized you’ve been indoctrinated for years and years. Imagine you now found someone who has gone through much the same experience, albeit for the enemy. The other individual knows what it’s like to be special, and in that, you find a solace together. God forbid, your show has character development.

Imagine you’ve been raised by the so called enemy and they’ve shown you more compassion than any human has. You’ve been indoctrinated for years and years to be the savior of that so called enemy, the covenant. You’ve been tasked now to infiltrate and earn the enemy’s trust. You’re a honey pot. And your target just so happens to be experiencing emotions for the first time since being chemically castrated. You achieve your goals and in that moment, experience the magic of sex for the first time. The influx of emotions you now feel are greater than the indoctrination forced upon you. You truly connect with the person beside you. (If only someone would connect with the maiden-less critics, then maybe they’d possess the knowledge to understand this episode).

And then, just as you’ve formed a connection with this other person, you learn that the masters of humans are just as bad as the aliens that have indoctrinated you. They both seek the same goal: to be as gods.

Spoiler Shoutout to a Certain Critic

The critic over at Forbes is a special, maiden-less breed who wrote “So in conclusion, Master Chief is about to cause the Fall of Reach by having sex with a Covenant spy.” All I can politely say, is, did you actually watch the show you are paid to review?

I don’t get paid, but I actually watched the show.

Because if you did, as you claim, then you’d know that his act of sex had little impact on the fall of Reach. Catherine and her hubris is what contributed. Catherine and her special projects, Catherine and her ‘killing of communications’. Or perhaps Makee getting tortured once again causing her to experience a traumatic flashback to getting tortured by humans as a child. All Master Chief aka John 117 did was show her that humans can love, can care, can change. He was the only one that tried to connect, to find hope.

Everyone else, yourself included, showed that humans are ugly. That they don’t care about a person as an individual, they don’t care to learn the intricacies of being. They merely judge and pass judgment without knowing the whole of events. Pro-tip: try actually watching the show you claim to review.

Episode Seven

This episode was a nice relieve from the focus being on Master Chief, and helped tell Kwan Ha’s story some more. She got a minor conclusion to her story by wrapping up the rebellion against Vinsher on the planet Madrigal, and setting the plot for what’s coming next.

We got a glimpse at the AI such as guilty spark from the games, in a drug induced vision. And hints that there’s some sort of technology hidden under the planet, powered by the fuel in the soil.

All in all, as usual, I’m excited for more episodes.

Episode Six

That beginning was so satisfying. It’s rare to give your masters a taste of their own medicine. The episode brought much needed answers and emotional satisfaction. I was just along for the ride, stopped thinking about the show. That ending was the cherry on top. Our first look at a halo ring. I really hope they renew this show for more seasons.

Episode Five

That episode ran the emotional gamut culminating in rage. Understandable pent up anger, and a glorious fight to behold with UNSC vs Covenant. Despite Kai never reloading, or anyone for that matter, and Chief somehow always picking up different guns instead, it was quite enjoyably to watch.

The dangling threat of John’s mental freedom is still in the wind. CGI has improvement as the show has gone on. That ending bit was a nice tease of more to come. And it was lovely to hear John call out Cortana, and those naysayers out there too, with his line about the game. I’m, as usual, excited for more.

Episode Four

Another episode depicting the tragedy that befalls individuals brainwashed by their superiors or agency oversights. That to take away somebody’s memories is to remove who they are. And to quote Soren, “There are no more heroes.” Nobody has the strength to stand up and fight for what they believe in. They’ve seen what happens to those that do, they meet death’s door. The entire episode is a slow psychological horror at both knowing our beloved characters could be wiped out by an evil mind, and that such events actually happen around the world daily. Rebellion is snuffed out, brutally and utterly, and the minds of the civilians continue to praise the heavens that their leaders walk on. If they aren’t brainwashed, then they live in fear. Time to go see the mystics and free our minds.

Episode Three

Oh look, the first medium to accurately portray Hunters and not shy away from the sheer horror of their existence! And y’all whined that it didn’t follow the lore. Anyways, the opening was pure horror for me, with needles and surgeries, but I still liked that inclusion, I felt that their world could show us anything. I half-expected to see nudity, and they delivered on that front too! Cortana was awesome, as was hearing the voice actress from the games. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Episode Two

What an interesting type of programming shoved down the throats of millions. The show seems to have a self-awareness of the meaning of the word, that the government programs individuals into corrupting their morals and ethics to become slaves and thralls. But there is a stronger code inside all of us, to know when something is simply wrong. This is what Master Chief is representing. That dull ache at the back of your mind that’s sickened by everything those in power ask of you, except he is the fantasy made real, the one that acts. He takes action. And through him, we get our vicarious victory against the powers that be. Yet therein lies the trap. We get pacified, and our ability to act for real gets further diminished in our minds. We continue to be complacent. For all that Halo is worth, and for all that antigovernmental sentiment, it is still a tool against us. With all that in mind, there’s a chance individuals might be inspired to be better. To do better. To know that some commands are wrong and should never be carried out. That being said, episode two is off to a great start.

No action to be found in this episode. Lots of worldbuilding, always enjoyable. Soundtrack is one of those I’ll be listening to outside of the show. I love the sound work overall, the thumps of the armor as they walk, the clank and rumbling of the train cart through space.

Showing John’s upbringing was a lovely touch, as was making our point of view into the UNSC’s raising of the Spartans as negative. Immediately you can tell that John is indeed a victim, as is his friend, Soren.

Overall, I liked this episode as well.

Minor Spoilers

That closing arc of going willingly back into the fold knowing that you may be destroyed in doing so is poetic and yet, I feel a pang of worry for our hero. That he’ll be brainwashed, and overrode, reduced to being the faceless mask of the video games. It’s a nice change to actually worry for the protagonist instead of knowing everything will be okay due to plot armor (like Marvel’s most recent outing, Moon Knight).

Episode One

Around 40 minutes in, I suddenly understood all the middling reviews. The parallels to current governments is strongly on the nose. Yes, the government would kill you, distort your message, and lie to the general public all to keep the black gold flowing into their pockets. You cannot interfere when they decide to ravage the landscape and local populace for natural and heavy minerals. Rio Tinto knows this well.

Halo as a show is off to a great start. It’s jam-packed with goodies such as the radar from the games, and the ammo counts, to the sound of a shield recharging. There’s even a Mass Effect reference at 34 minutes. We get to see all the old favorites besides Master Chief, like Dr. Halsey and Commander Keyes and his daughter, Miranda Keyes. With all that aside, and watching it with no expectations nor preconceptions, or comparisons to the source material, I am thoroughly enjoying the show. In fact, I didn’t want the first episode to end; I want all the episodes now.

I like that they went with their own reality for the show, it gives creative freedom. It’s not like the games brought anything new to the genre besides the Spartans and their suits. Larry Niven’s Ringworld series would like a word. Aliens attacking humanity ain’t exactly fresh. The graphics for the aliens in the show could use a bit of a touch-up as the feeling of CGI and fakeness was too strong, perhaps a different technology or method could have been used? I enjoyed how they introduced the Spartans to us with the idea that they are cold and unfeeling killing machines. To the people trying to survive without being robbed blind by the UNSC and their black gold demands, the Spartans are essentially boogeyman. The government’s own special hit squad, and you’d be na├»ve to think they don’t have that in our present times.

And now the face reveal! I dig it, and it fits the storyline! Did people not understand that? If you’re raised your whole life with the notion that this Spartan is a killing machine. Unfeeling. Alien to you. The boogeyman. And then you see that it is all together too human? You start to realize things, the gears in your head start to spin. You, who have been raised to question things, will now question this. What happened to him? Who did this and why? You empathize with him. He is no longer this unfeeling thing, but a thing that feels and understands you. And it wants to help you. Now that goes against everything you’ve known, and you want to see where it goes because the alternative is death. Moving on, Pablo Schreiber is excellent and I love seeing his performances.

The opening sequence was another aspect I liked, as it shows the surgical scars on John’s body, and then the cool animation of the armor being sculpted onto his body as if by nanites or something. I liked that the girl was Korean, and the commander lady in charge is Indian as it helps establish credence that the UNSC really is a worldly organization, that humanity has truly spread themselves out amongst the stars.

I loved where the end of the episode went. It gave Master Chief agency over his life, and set him onto his own path. He’s breaking free of the chains set upon him by his corrupt masters – and that message we simply cannot have in today’s day and age.

Overall, I highly recommend it. Once again, I love seeing more science fiction shows pop up. I think that if you watched it without comparison to the grail games on high thrones, you’ll find it enjoyable. And if you are not one of those, and you like sci-fi, you’ll like it.

Random Thoughts

I had read several user reviews in addition to the official critics, and I disagree that this version of Master Chief is a perversion of the character. If anything, this version is the best depiction because he’s finally his own character. In the games, he’s always been nothing but a puppet, slave to Cortana or the UNSC, even to the player. By not giving him a face, the player can imagine themselves as the Chief, and roleplay that way. He’s a great poster boy for militaries around the world – does horrific shit, never questions orders, never rebels. A perfect killing machine. Now I could be totally wrong by later episodes, but it seems to me that he’s realizing to the extent that he’s been manipulated by his superiors and is starting to rebel. He’s starting to think for himself. And that is an imagined world I wish to see more of.

TV Shows

Outer Range

What is this growing fascination with telling incomplete stories? Is it greed? A cowardly nature? I think it’s both. A show creator is too cowardly to tell the story he/she wants lest they get lambasted for it and they want more money out of the studios so they can keep telling their half-story. Outer Range started off with so much potential, and by the end, we are blue-balled once again wanting answers. It doesn’t matter to me how well the visuals are, how well acted it is, or if the writing/dialogue is solid. If you don’t tell me a full story, and you leave more questions than answers, then I will not like your work. Plain and simple. Same reasoning why I severely disliked Dune despite it being excellent in all other fronts. Tell me a complete story. This is why Korean TV shows have such a high standard of excellence, because they know to tell a full story. To not linger with half-truths, and cliffhangers.

Outer Range stars Josh Brolin as Royal Abbot, a rancher with a mysterious past. His two sons, Rhett (Lewis Pullman) and Perry (Tom Pelphrey) get into a brawl with the neighbor’s kid, Trevor Tillerman, that results in his death. The Abbot family covers it up and deals with the consequences that follow. In the meantime, newcomer Autumn shows up and asks to stay on their land. Royal finds a mysterious hole in the ground and deals with that mystery.

The show is a very slow burn with next to little pay off. It is not worth watching the first season as you’ll be left with more questions than answers. If the show creator, Brian Watkins, wants to make multiple seasons for the show then it should have been announced at the front of the Amazon page. Had I known that, I would have altered my expectations. Everything revealed so far was foreshadowed and obvious from the get-go. All of the revelations were nothing new.

There was some philosophical pandering nonsense about God throughout the series, and lemme say, why do people associate God with all the bad things? Did they forget the devil exists? Satan is the one that brings the bad; God is good. Then there was the obligatory LGBQT+ plotline that was necessary, and to add double to the pandering to the ‘woke’ crowd, it was a lesbian Native American. Strike two issues down with one stone. It added nothing to the plot. It was a colossal waste of time learning about Sheriff Joy (Tamara Podemski), it was simply political pandering. If I wanted that, I would have watched a Netflix show.

Given my feelings aside, if you like Yellowstone mixed with science fiction then I’m sure you’d like this science fiction neo-western. If you liked Dune, then you’d enjoy this as well. Josh Brolin did a phenomenal job acting, as did Lili Taylor playing his wife, Cecilia Abbot. In fact, everyone did a great job in their roles. You really grew to dislike several characters, and love others. But given the nature of the ending, I, myself, cannot recommend this show. Though, that shouldn’t stop you from watching it and making your own opinion.

Movies

One Shot and Black Site

Oh look, two movies with very similar plots released within a year of each other. A common occurrence, like Armageddon and Deep Impact. The movie, One Shot, is a smaller budget movie than Black Site due to the actors involved. One has action B-stars, and the other has formerly A-list stars.

One Shot was a fun experiment in a long continuous take, with much of the action showed with as little cuts as possible. Often using misdirection to make it seem like one continuous take. It starred Scott Adkins as a Navy SEAL, Ashley Greene as a CIA analyst and Ryan Phillipe as the station chief of the black ops detention facility. When it falls under attack by hundreds of insurgents, they must work together to get a high priority target out safely into order to find a nuclear bomb hidden on US soil.

The action was definitely B movie tier, but it was fun to watch. It was relentless, and enjoyable for if you’re in the mood for an hour and a half of non-stop action. The plot was minimal, it was merely a vehicle to deliver the action. Of which it came in spades. Minor issues with bad guys having unlimited ammo while the good guys had to reload, but good sound quality overall. I liked it.

Black Site goes the other direction, with a focus on story and development over action. Even then, it suffers the same issue as One Shot did which is the unbelievability of how the main bad guys enter the place. At the same time, it’s quite enjoyable to see American intelligence and military as being incompetent. And the slight digs at the CIA and Mossad are a nice little treat. We have Michelle Monaghan as a CIA analyst with personal ties to the bad guy, Jai Courtney as soldier Miller (he’s good at playing bullies), and Jason Clarke as the sadistic bad guy called Hatchet. We also have a relative newcomer, Phoenix Raei as the Israeli Mossad agent called Uri.

When incompetent delta forces fail to interrogate Hatchet, the base goes on lockdown and they have one hour to restore communications lest they be hit by a drone strike by their own nation, the United States. What follows is hilariously bad attempts at re-securing their own base, while Hatchet goes around brutally killing the inhabitants.

In both movies, the target of the bad guy(s) is a businessman with alleged ties to terrorist organizations and we do not know if he’s a head honcho or merely just a puppet.

Somebody needs to tell the action choreographer or the guy in charge of effects for Black Site, that guns have recoil. It is a sad attempt to not have any when the blood effects were on point. Also if you’re supposedly a trained soldier or ex-soldier, you’d know when picking up a gun to check ammo/that it works right.

Overall, I’d recommend Black Site for the story because it has threads of truth to it. While I would recommend One Shot for the action.

Movies

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

This is the rare example of a near perfect video game adaptation. It is full of references or Easter eggs to the games, while staying faithful to the lore already established. Any deviations add to the story rather than take away. At its core, it’s a kids movie through and through. With plenty of toilet humor, and lots of strong family values. Yes, the final act was a CGI extravaganza like most Marvel movies but Sega and Paramount spared no expenses. There were no moments of extremely dubious graphics; everything was gorgeously rendered.

The story, this time around, is that Dr. Robotnik (played masterfully by Jim Carrey) has returned to earth with the help of an echidna named Knuckles to seek a powerful artifact capable of turning thought into reality. Sonic teams up with newcomer Tails, a gadget tinkering fox to stop them. Along the way, we see many adorable references to the games themselves, jokes rife with current popular actors and media, and some good ole fashioned family values. Sonic, himself, grows as both a character and a burgeoning hero and in a rare twist, shows that absolute power doesn’t have to corrupt.

Jim Carrey delightfully steals the show as the egotistical megalomaniac Dr. Robotnik. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be watching. He is an absolute treat to behold, and watching his performance I felt a nostalgia for him to return. To see his old characters again, to re-watch his performances. I hope he returns for the third movie despite his wish to retire from acting. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. Ben Schwartz as Sonic was okay, same with Idris Elba as Knuckles. As voice actors, there’s not much those two could do. Idris Elba especially felt wasted here, and I feel like they should have gone with actual voice actors instead. Like they did with Tails using the game’s voice actress, Colleen O’Shaughnessey. James Marsden did a great job again playing Tom, Sonic’s friend and parental figure. There was a nice comedic turn from Shemar Moore, wasn’t expecting him in the movie so that was a nice delight.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie to kids and adults that have grown up on the Sonic games. It’ll scratch your itch for a proper video game adaptation, and there’s plenty of re-watching available to try and catch all the Easter Eggs/references with your kids.

Movies

Otherlife

This movie is truly about the helplessness, and hopelessness that comes with fighting against a corporation that’s stolen your life’s work. How you’re driven mad, and gaslit in every corner. It’s about the pitfalls of technology, specifically about virtual reality. Black Mirror had an episode that was similar to this. This is the story of a young woman trying to save her brother’s mind – he’s trapped in a coma caused by drowning during an excursion with the two of them together. Expanding upon her father’s technology, she tries to devise a way that’ll work but she needs funding. So she partners up, but fails to consider that power corrupts absolutely. She ends up imprisoned by the very system she created to help save lives.

For an indie budget film, this movie has a better sense of scale and production value than most high budget Hollywood films. It has crafted a terrifying world where you can’t even trust your own reality. Not much different than today’s world, I suppose. The twists and turns keep you on your feet, and even my own above description of events betrays the reality of the movie. The only constant that is true is the danger of virtual reality that modifies time. The ending was satisfying, and provided emotional release from the suffocating feeling that the movie encapsulated.

Jessica De Gouw was excellent in the lead role, and very easily carried the movie. T.J. Power was equally as good as the partner seduced by the wealth and power that comes from owning a company on the forefront of new technology. His smarmy portrayal provided just the right touch between someone that seems trusting and simultaneously an asshole. The music added to the overall feeling of constant uneasiness and worry.

Overall, it was quite a good science fiction thriller. I’m loving these Australian films, and I look forward to more. I recommend this movie.

TV Shows

Moon Knight (Complete Review)

Given my episode play by play, it is painfully clear to anyone that I despised this show. This was nowhere near the hallmark that Marvel tries to hold itself to. It was dull, and pandering to the ‘woke’ and ‘diverse’ crowd. It was far too cowardly to try and tell a meaningful story. Instead it relied on tired old tropes, and hoping that people’s minds have forgotten previous movies. It tried to rely on big names in acting to draw in viewers. Oscar Isaac is the star of the show, and his acting chops put everyone to shame. Ethan Hawke was clearly just there to be remembered in posterity that he was in a Marvel production.

The story, and credits of each episode, excruciatingly teased viewers with a third persona but refused, adamantly, to show it until the very end. Until the last 30 seconds. Instead it tried its hardest to focus on just two personas of Moon Knight: Marc Spector and Steven Grant. Even then, they took the coward’s way out and switched comic Steven Grant for a new version. Perhaps they feared the comparisons to Batman, or any other rich superhero. As a result, everything suffered. Even the fight scenes were paltry, and anytime something cool could have happened, they turned it into a blackout scene. Like when Game of Thrones had to save money, and they showed the after-effects of a battle. I know Marvel has the money to spare, so this was a creative cop-out.

There were far too many writing bumbles that disconnected the viewer from immersion. Such as Steven’s inability to look at the time despite suffering life-long blackouts, to how Marc had a brother, or using mummification as a way to try and laughably introduce horror into the MCU. Then there’s manipulating the entire sky and not having every single superhero on the planet at high alert. Or killing countless disciples and followers of the lead antagonist, Harrow, and then being unwilling to kill him as well. Then the pandering to the ‘woke’ crowd and having the God’s chamber be a ‘safe space to talk’. Incredibly laughable.

The show at its best is a misfire and a great vehicle to show off Oscar Isaac’s talent, and at its worst, is pure political agenda at play. Gotta have an inclusion of “The MCU’s first Egyptian/Arab superhero” and we must have an evil, older, white man as the main antagonist. Our love interest must be able to fend for herself and show herself just as capable as her male counterparts; even though, the bad guys will suddenly lose their intellect and shoot directly at the parts where she’s armored. She’s only capable because suddenly every bad guy is highly incompetent yet when dealing with Moon Knight, they are a force to be reckoned with requiring his total mastery between Marc and Steven.

Congrats Marvel, once again y’all have dressed up a shiny turd of mediocre writing with shiny production value and dubious CGI. Let’s hope Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness doesn’t suffer from the same problems.