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.