Movies

Lightyear

What a colossal waste of time. I thought maybe the other reviews were wrong, but no, no, they were right on the money. And it has nothing to do with the shoehorned in lesbian commander and her kiss. It’d be great if maybe characters were allowed time to be fleshed out, to be more than walking, talking caricatures. But none of that happened. Disney is here to sell merchandise, and that’s the only reason for these characters to be the way they are. Gotta hit all the demographics across the board. You might think that the suits interfered with the story, but no, that blame is solely at the feet of the two writers: Angus MacLane, and Jason Headley. The former is also the director of the movie, and a known animator. These two somehow managed to create an entire story devoid of any emotions, entirely dumbed down characters, and plot events that happen because our heroes are inept idiots that cause their own trouble. That last bit feels like a bit of a projection on behalf of the writers. Thank you both for confirming you are idiots.

The plot is that Buzz Lightyear maroons 1200 people on a desolate planet because his ego is too much, and he’s too full of himself. To rectify his mistake, he volunteers to test out the proprietary fuel supply which is unstable that results in time dilation and everyone around him aging. All his friends and everyone he’s ever known gets old, and eventually passes away. Tragic, right? Surely, there’d be some sort of plot element to address this, right? Surely, Buzz will get a chance to process some emotions… oh wait, never mind, onto the next plot element. Because Buzz ain’t a fleshed out character resembling a human being, no, he’s a piece of franchise material: nothing but merchandise. And then the evil Zurg is explained away with the dumbest twist possible because Pixar are too cowardly to admit that the Buzz Lightyear cartoon is much better than any drivel they can come up with (they actually straight up copied themselves for the villain).

Each of the supporting characters is a total nitwit that constantly causes more problems and do nothing but make quips. They’re all supposedly 20+ years old and yet inexplicably act like children. Yes, it is a children’s movie and yet much of the plot is aimed at adults while simultaneously dumbing everything down that the end result is neither for adults or kids. Good job, Angus, keep proving to the world that animators should just stick to animating and leave writing to actual writers. Perhaps if Jason was in charge of all the writing, it might have turned out decent.

It’s a damn shame really. Pixar did a great job animating, as usual. But, other than the animation, it squarely belongs in the trash. The two writers proving that their ability to type is akin to monkeys on a typewriter, and after having seen this travesty, I wonder how they live with nothing but air between their ears.

Do not pass go, do not watch this garbage. I do not recommend it to anyone. Hug your kids, and have a family night instead of this. Show them Buzz Lightyear of Star Command if you want a proper Buzz story.

TV Shows

The Old Man

“Beware of an old man in a profession where men die young.”

I’d seen glimpses of this show in reviews, and online, and wow was I blown away when I actually watched the first three episodes. Jeff Bridges is simply phenomenal as an ex-operative now on the run when his past has caught up to him. That opening quote I wrote defines this show. Everyone keeps underestimating him due to his age. From the operatives they send after him, to their handlers as well. Only our dear John Lithgow as the Assistant Director of the FBI knows the extent of his skills.

That first episode had me clapping near the end at how our hero overcomes the odds. Nothing like having a good pair of loyal dogs to protect you.


“Do you recognize me now?”


A good adaption utilizes the source material well, and faithfully adapts it, only making changes that benefit or improve upon the material. If your changes impact the story negatively, or bog it down, then you have failed at adapting; you have shown that you are an idiot. Lauren S. Hissrich knows this well with her Witcher bastardization, and now the writers of this show can join her in being an idiot. Talk about jumping the shark. Yea, let’s move away from the book entirely and try and tell our worse story instead of the good one you have right before you.


“The world is full of monsters. Sooner or later, we all take our turn.” Episode 4. What a load of malarkey.

“Rich folk don’t explain shit.” Well, ain’t that the truth! Episode 5.

And in episode 6, we learn who the titular Old Man really is.

The finale gives one last twist that makes me go “blurgh”. Cheese factor ten thousand. Once again, if you are going to change a source material, make sure that your material improves upon the base story and doesn’t tell a worse off story than is given. The plot benefitted greatly from changing the thing that Dan Chase stole from the Afghan warlord to be the dude’s wife instead of 20 million dollars. That gives more of an emotional impact, and a way of connecting to a character than caring about money. There’s a person at stake here. That works. Taking the dogs away, extending the character of Zoe, changing Julian into an assassin instead of a character foil to Dan, and that last twist during the ending, congrats writers! You are idiots.


The first three episodes were a mastercraft in direction, cinematography, musical score, action choreography, and first class acting all around from everyone, especially Jeff Bridges. It is painfully clear that critics only reviewed the first three episodes before singing their praises of it. And that’s fair. Those three are worthy of praise. The following four episodes should be called out as they are. An embarrassment, and these writers should be ashamed of themselves, but they won’t, they got their fat paychecks.

When I started watching, I was so ready to recommend this show to everyone. But now, I can’t in good conscience do so. I can say the first three episodes are all you need to watch because after that, pardon my language, it gets fucking derivative. Turns into a bunch of psycho babble bullshit, and going back and forth through tired old trends. The ending pulls a move similar to the Outer Range, in that nothing is solved or even approaches an ending. Sure, you learned something new about the character, about something he did, but there is no resolution. You are left there holding yourself in your hand, waiting for the next season to be jerked off.

If it wasn’t for the grace and skill of Jeff Bridges, and the equal powerhouse of John Lithgow, this would be another nameless spy thriller in the long line of them. But because I love Jeff Bridges’ acting, I stuck with it. I loved watching him chew up the scenery. And of the actor that portrayed his younger self, Bill Heck. He was excellent, and his lines spoken in the Dari language made him seem like he was born in the region. Or so I read online. Pej Vahdat can also claim this honor. He was simply superb. The dedication to his craft is shown. I felt like he knew what he was saying, and not just speaking it phonetically.

Overall, this season should be taught as a lesson to not mess with a good story thinking you can tell it better. First three episodes are pure perfection, and then the writers became too full of themselves and thought they knew better than the author of the book they were adapting. Most authors won’t say anything negative about their adaptations, and I assume the same with this one. If only we had more Rick Riordan like authors to stand up for their works. Perhaps then this show could have been perfect until the end. Alas, after an exquisite entrance, it stumbled out the door and fell flat on its face.

Movies

The Gray Man

I’ve been looking forwards to this one for some time, since the movie’s promotional team shared pictures on Reddit. Ryan Gosling as our titular character, a man that’s 007, Jason Bourne, and John Wick all rolled into one. The unstoppable action hero. I love these kinds of movies because you hold no fear for the main character, and you just wanna see the level of carnage that they’re capable of in their quest. And the action sequences do not disappoint.

Ana De Armas was equally capable and badass in her role, as CIA agent Miranda, helping our lead to achieve his goals. In fact, the star studded cast helped elevate this movie especially when it came to our villain. Played excellently as a sociopath, Chris Evans, in a stark contrast to the goody two shoes we know him from in Marvel, was a delight. I enjoyed seeing him playing a bad guy. Hope he tries it out more. The weakest link for me was the agency chief, played by Rege-Jean Page. At no point did he come across as menacing, or coldly intelligent, or anything remotely to a serious villain. He felt like a joke amongst all the rest of them, a complete miscast. I kept waiting for the zinger which never arrived.

Oh, a special shoutout to the character of Lone Wolf played by Dhanush. It’s always fun to see a character that has honor, and scruples. I could see them making a movie outta his character.

The plot itself lends itself a few twists and turns to keep things interesting, and inventive action sequences – at times. Like the tram sequence, I particularly enjoyed when our lead used the reflections of the building to aim his shot. Plenty of scenes can be seen in a humorous light, especially with the quips coming from both hero and villain. The music wasn’t anything special, except for the usage of the song ‘Silver Bird’ in two action sequences. That was nice.

My only major gripe is showing the one torture scene with a bit of explicit detail. That had no reason to be there other than to showcase gore. You can heavily imply what is being done without actually showing the damage through the creative use of angles. Honestly, I just closed my eyes while exclaiming “ah fuck off, Russo bros”. That scene was purely for shock value. Added nothing that you didn’t learn immediately in the next scene. “Oh, why are the bad guys showing up here? Ah, yes, clearly the torture worked. So why the fuck did I have to be witness to that?” Oh and, Joe Russo once again putting himself into his movies, as a small role, don’t think I didn’t notice ya buddy.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie except for that one gripe. I loved the charisma that Ryan Gosling always brings to the table. The fierceness of Ana De Armas. The quips of Chris Evans. It is an enjoyable Friday night movie for me. Netflix has finally put out an action movie that has a pulse. I didn’t think it possible, yet here we are.

TV Shows

Ms. Marvel

This was the first Marvel show that felt like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant pond. The formulaic pattern to all their shows and movies left one wondering if it was possible to interject new life into it all. Yet, there was a spark here, and it blossomed into a wonderful tale about a young, Muslim girl, who struggles to find her own identity as she clashes with a clandestine organization, a shadowy government agency and all that comes with growing up in a culturally rich household. The relationship of her character with her well-meaning Pakistani family and the culture clash that arises with the notion of superheroes, is given room to play out. At the center of all this, is newcomer actress Iman Vellani, in her first onscreen role, who is just a delight to behold.

Early on, across the six episodes that make up the miniseries, there’s a scene between Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and her parents. They want to take her to the comic-con she’s been wanting to go, on the condition her dad takes her. He’s so excited, and even dressed up as Hulk in an attempt to connect with his daughter. But in a typical teenage fashion, she bungles it up, disappoints her parents, and hurts her dad’s feelings. It was the acting of Iman in that scene that ultimately connected me with her character, and her depiction of the character. She expertly portrayed the various emotions that come in such a scene. Of feeling guilty, and about to cry upon the realization that you made your parents upset. That you directly caused the tears in your dad’s eye. Her acting here was nothing short of amazing, especially for a newcomer.

The story is not without its faults, such as having villains with not enough character development established to explain why’d they do things. This results in it feeling rushed, that the villains rushed through to try and get to their victory. It takes away from the excellent world building, and character development that’s happened so far. Yet even with all that, it manages to finish strong. Its strength lies in the familial story arcs. Of Kamala’s parents and their relationship to their superhero daughter or of being accepted by the community despite being a Muslim hero with a dazzling set of powers. And speaking of powers, the changes to her powerset from the comics is perfectly okay because this is a character that is all about her identity within the community, and her religion clashing with her identity as a superhero. Individuals don’t relate to the character because she can stretch her arms, or change into another person. They relate because they’ve known that struggle of being different, of being an ethnic immigrant struggling compared to your Caucasian neighbors. The culture clash that inevitably arises.

The CGI is on par with current Marvel miniseries outings, and the musical score was truly impeccable. I loved the fusion of Indian/Pakistani music and hip-hop beats to create this stylistic fresh take on the urban hero. It really helped add to her cultural identity. The creative use of CGI to demonstrate conversation also helped it to stand out. The supporting cast was good, especially Zenobia Shroff as Kamala’s mom and Mohan Kapur as Kamala’s dad.

Overall, I really liked the show. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be “wholesome”. And it really helps that the lead actress, Iman Vellani is so endearing in her portrayal of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel.

TV Shows

The Terminal List

It’s been awhile, folks. Of course, a military show with propaganda smelled a mile off would certainly get me back. Chris Pratt as Navy Seal Operator James Reece, with “why are you spending good money on him” Taylor Kitsch as his buddy Ben Edwards, and Constance Wu as the tough but determined reporter seeking the truth. Add a mix of “oh hey, I recognize him/her/them” and a bit of well-executed action sequences with a focus on reloading – oh my!

Naturally, I attempted to view it all in one sitting. It was a fun ride and I’m left with some plot related questions towards the end, but I enjoyed it all. It definitely is a love it or hate it type deal. No overseas baddies here. Nothing but homegrown, domestic greed. A show about a trained weapon shaking up the tree, searching for the snakes that fall out. At first, it feels like a very cookie-cutter generic American military thriller that’s been coming out recently on Amazon Video. Then the hook arrives near the end of the first episode, and I’m all for the murder in the name of revenge. Reminded me of Punisher with Thomas Jane, similar storyline; that is, a man with nothing left to lose and nothing left to live for but revenge.

In a rare twist for me, I enjoyed Jai Courtney’s performance as the pompous rich guy that gets his due comeuppance. Precisely because of that delivered justice. It was worth having to see him act in a movie for once. There’s a dude that I recognized from Banshee (great show, still working on that one), some dude playing an FBI agent I recognized from somewhere. And an actress from older movies I haven’t seen in some time, and older viewers would definitely recognize.

Overall, I liked it. The somewhat strong religious overtones outlined in the opening episode made it go off to a great start. I could also see why the devout Chris Pratt would be drawn to the role, and why nepotism would get one of the actors in the movie a role (brother in law). Thankfully, just a minor role. And the world wouldn’t run without it. Nice callouts plot wise to the plight of veterans, and how easily they could theoretically turn to taking action against elements of the government. And with the recent events of the pandemic in the world, having a plot element of testing medication to an unknown mass of individuals… Well, ain’t that just dandy!