Movies

We can be Heroes

Robert Rodriguez is back with another story set within the universe he created with Sharkboy and Lavagirl, and it is definitely not a movie for adults or teens. It is made for children and it shows. I, myself, was bored to tears but I could see how a child would thoroughly enjoy the spectacle. The only high quality that was to be found here was the casting of Priyanka Chopra and Pedro Pascal, both of whom helped elevate what little there was to feel like something more than a Saturday morning cartoon. A lot of the movie was referencing the Avengers, down to the giant ‘H’ on the hero’s headquarters’ building instead of a giant ‘A’ and the fact that alien invaders came to destroy earth. Even the disharmony amongst the adult heroes was reminiscent of the recent marvel movies.

The good part was the moral message repeated throughout, that only by teamwork and working together with the people alongside you can you succeed. Also that by believing in yourself and others believing in you, can you succeed in whatever you excel at. The ending was particularly nice and an enjoyable twist on an otherwise formulaic story. The powers of the parents and of the children was zany to say the least, and a couple of them had some original powers but for the most part, the powers are what viewers have been conditioned to enjoy by various comic book industries. The acting itself was good overall, the children were fine in their respective roles with the exception of the child that played the character known as facemaker. He was lacking but I imagine it was more to do with the simplicity of the script and the writing.

Overall, it’s a great movie for kids to watch and enjoy with their parents though they might not be as entertained as their children would be. The special effects were nothing good or particularly flashy, but served enough to establish the events that unfolded. As an adult, I’ll be honest, Priyanka Chopra was all that kept me going in watching. She’s undeniably beautiful and was a treat to watch.

Movies

Outside the Wire

Major spoilers ahead

This is one of those movies immediately off the bat you can tell it’s gonna be a propaganda puff piece for the US military. And off the bat, a movie about how the Balkans are a volatile mix of nations that breed violence. To that end, it starts the movie off about how war has broken loose in the Ukraine and that a violent warlord controls an army intend on establishing new relations with Russia and that the US is sent in as peacekeepers. The irony of that word is incredibly rich, “peacekeepers” as if bombing nations and homes, families and friends, is a way to keep peace. The movie starts off with our lead character, Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), a drone pilot that disobeys chain of command to bomb a vehicle involved in a firefight with US soldiers that results in the loss of life for two men. He is disciplined for his actions and sent to the frontline to see the results of his work first-hand. There he is paired up with Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) to complete a mission past the demilitarized zone, starting with delivering vaccines in exchange for intel. Their real mission is stop former Russian nukes from falling into the hands of the warlord and his men.

This movie takes place in 2036, and with it being science fiction, the US military also employs the use of robots called gumps to help establish order. Our dear Captain Leo is shown to be an android himself on a top secret mission. The ending of the movie happens so abruptly and it completely throws every message the movie was trying to portray and be critical of, into the trash. There were some good topics discussed and some real attempts at trying to be outside the box, however despite its namesake, Outside the Wire fails to do that. The message it was trying to state is that all lives matter, and that we should have compassion for humanity and those trying to survive even if they might be our enemy. It says that the US is stuck in a never-ending cycle of war that it itself perpetuates and that the only way to stop the cycle is to show there are real consequences to the actions of the military.

Here follow major spoilers

To that end of the above, the android known as Captain Leo wishes to use the nukes and bomb the mainland US to show the military that creating a fully autonomous AI and android only continues the cycle of war. When you create machines to fight machines, there is no humanity left in it. This is where I say in regards to the ending, that those involved with this movie, the director and producers, they took the cowardly way out. The movie should have ended with the nukes launched and on their way to the US mainland. Harp would have been arrested for insubordination again, and before the military realized he was doing so for the right reason, that it would be too late. Instead, he miraculously shows up to the command center for the nukes in time despite having a severe time disadvantage and despite being choked out by Captain Leo, manages to stop him, and destroy the nukes. Then he drives back to the base and starts walking back when the credits roll.

Some additional problems with the story are that drone operators are shown to be cold, and heartless at what they do. So when Harp sees first-hand the devastation that is wrought by the bombs dropped by drones, he is heartbroken at such chaos. Yet, what saves the day, is a drone dropping another bomb. Talk about a conflicting message. There is a scene near the middle where Harp is being interrogated by a resistance leader, and she reveals that she knows what Captain Leo is up to and that the US military deserves to know that their lives can be collateral as well. That their bombs injure far more than the target they aim for. Yet, again, the ending dismisses that notion and firmly shows that all that matters are US lives, that American lives are worth more than other life. Like I said at the start, this is a puff piece for American propaganda.

Spoilers done

As for the acting itself, it was okay. Anthony Mackie shows that he still can’t be taken seriously as an action star, that he lacks charisma and that intimidation factor. I used to think that it was the script, due to his previous works, but I can see I was mistaken. It’s him, he does not have that spark. Damson Idris was alright at being an idealist soldier, a drone pilot that knows little at how an actual battlefield is like compared to his cushy life behind a screen. The supporting cast were mere caricatures of a Colonel or a Sergeant, of a resistance leader, an arms dealer, and a warlord. The action itself was very well done and were the only interesting parts that kept the story moving forwards. It’s clear that John Wick has had quite the effect on action movies and their stunt work with combat.

I’m on the fence with this movie. On the one hand, the science fiction part of it is a bit intriguing and the action itself is very good and satisfying. On the other hand, it’s quite clearly nothing more than your usual Netflix American propaganda. I can’t recommend it but if you got nothing better to do, and want to see some action, leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride. You’ll not remember it in a few days.

TV Shows

The King: Eternal Monarch

If evil men didn’t try to corrupt the world for their own selfish greed, then all the world would turn out to be a beautiful place of love, happiness and joy. Everyone has their own fate, their own destiny, and sometimes you haven’t yet reached the destination. This South Korean melodrama of fantasy, science fiction, romance and thriller is a wonderous tale of the aforementioned above. It starts with a humble beginning that spreads to become so much more, so much weaving of the tapestry of life, of people bound in ways they do not yet know and we, the audience, are along for the discovery and journey.

Mild Spoilers ahead

Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) is the modern day King of the Kingdom of Corea who in his youth was injured by his half-uncle, Lee Lim (Lee Jung-jin), when the former assassinated his father and attempted to usurp the throne. Lee Lim wanted a magical flute for himself that was said to hold mystical powers that allowed one to travel between worlds. One day the King discovers two obelisks that allow travel to another reality, a parallel world. There he meets the woman he was destined to be with, and what unfolds is an epic romantic story. But, it’s not without its darker undertones, as Lee Lim, who survived the night of the assassination and has been in hiding in the parallel world, strives to take back what he believes should have rightfully been his – the magical flute. It was cut in two that fateful night, and the two halves are what allow both Lee Lim and Lee Gon to travel to a parallel world.

With each episode 70 minutes in length, as viewers, we are treated to a fully expanded world. Completely fleshed out characters that feel alive, and not caricatures of heroes or villains. Lee Lim, the evil half-uncle, is a greedy man who wishes to control time and space and be a ruler of all. While Lee Gon wishes to find his love and be with her forever as time will allow. He is just, fair, and has mercy for those that cross his path but for his enemies, he is ruthless and merciless as a King should be. There is no second chance for traitors, only a swift punishment. Detective Jung Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun) is Lee Gon’s destiny, and she is feisty and fierce, and brave when she has to be. She is kind, and beautiful, and Kim Go-eun’s performance deserves praise. I wept with her, and for her character, and I wished she’d succeed in her destiny; in both hers and Lee Gon’s fate, and I can happily say this story has a happy ending despite being fraught with danger, twists and turns.

The other characters in this story are equally human and flawed, and so full of life. The writer, Kim Eun-sook, did a great job with this series in creating these characters and their life’s events. The direction and editing did have some problems in that some scenes didn’t make sense or purpose despite the explanations towards the latter half of the show. But overall, it worked well. The music was fantastic and I’ve noticed in Korean shows that they often repeat the same songs in each episode during key moments. At first, it was a little odd but then it grew on you and touched your heart when you heard the music swell because then you’d be expecting what’s to come. The actors were all very convincing in each of their characters, some playing two due to doppelgangers with it being two parallel worlds, and nobody felt like a weak link. There was only the characters and not the men or women underneath.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire season of 16 episodes. I wholeheartedly recommend watching it if you’re in the mood for a sweeping tale of romance and fantasy. I hope you too will fall in love with the story of Lee Gon and Jung Tae-eul, and come out on the end feeling satisfied for experiencing this endearing and beautiful journey.

Movies

The Devil All The Time

The following review contains mild spoilers, and fair warning, if you like dogs, avoid this movie.

Directed by: Antonio Campos
Starring: Bill Skarsgard as Willard, Tom Holland as Arvin, Haley Bennett as Charlotte, Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Riley Keough as Sandy, Jason Clarke as Carl, Robert Pattinson as the predator Preacher, Harry Melling as the mad preacher, Eliza Scanlen as Lenora and others.

A movie not about God, but as it’s aptly stated in the title, a movie about the devil. God doesn’t ask anything evil of men, men forget that the devil exists. It’s a movie about wicked men who use the Lord’s name as an excuse for their own evil ways. In some matter or way, or another, every male character is so far gone from the light. It’s a movie about sin, and wickedness, and how they all intertwine together. A mad preacher, a flashy preacher who clearly is a predator (spoiler, pedophile), a burgeoning pair of serial killers – a husband and wife team, a dirty cop blinded by ambition whose sister is the wife of the pair of killers, a man suffering from PTSD and his son who’s affected by his father’s actions in his upbringing. The only good that comes out of it is the parents of the war veteran, Willard, that take in Lenora and his son Arvin.

The movie ilicits a feeling of unsettleness and dread. Only when we are with Arvin, and Lenora do we feel a sense of normalcy. Even then, Arvin has clearly developed his father’s sense of morality. His justice is swift and violent but not without purpose. There’s no room for innocence in this world portrayed in this movie. There’s only those with sinister intent, corruption, and brutality. This movie is a satanist’s wet dream.
I could say I had better to say regarding the story, but I honestly don’t. I don’t recommend this movie in the slightest. In fact, I regret watching it. That being said, all the actors and actresses involved did a phenomenal job portraying their various characters, and that might deserve some awards.

One could try and find meaning in the film, but I’ll leave that to others. I don’t wanna find meaning in this movie. I don’t even wanna offer a second passing thought to it. As I said earlier, it’s a satanist movie. Hard pass.

Movies

Freaks: You’re One Of Us

Written by Marc O. Seng of the TV show Dark, comes a German movie about individuals with powers. These individuals are suppressed by the government via a psychiatrist prescribing little blue pills. These pills turn the individuals into meek and dull zombies of themselves. When a chance meeting with a homeless man occurs with our main character, a woman in her thirties with a husband and young son, she is thrust into a world of possibilities. At the man’s behest and insinuation of super powers, she decides to stop taking the pills. And as it turns out, she learns the truth, she does have powers.

Similarly, one of her co-workers, a young man with seemingly autism or of being on the spectrum, is also taking the same pills. He’s motherless and his father is shacking up with another woman who he mockingly calls “mom”. His fate is intertwined with our main character, and of that of the homeless man. Together they go on a journey of self discovery and uncover a far reaching conspiracy.

As the viewer, we are meant to sympathize with the main character due to her job as a waitress with a mean boss lady that doesn’t treat her well. Her customers don’t give her any respect either, and her husband can be said to be a bit of a boor. She comes off as lacking intellect, and the case could be made that she’s bipolar. In fact, the entire movie, if you take out the powers aspect, could be said as a metaphor for bipolar/schizophrenia. The movie even has a line saying that the pills suppress their true selves, who they really are.

The change in both the young man and our main character is almost immediate. They go from being dull and meek, to being manic and aggressive. Yet she follows the path of a typical hero while he follows the path of a misunderstood villain. His mom wasn’t there to raise him properly while his dad constantly berates him for who he is. So when he gets powers and realizes his own self worth, it doesn’t take a blind man to see the path he’d take.

The movie doesn’t offer anything new on the superhero genre, nor does it reinvent anything. The message it sends is dangerous to those that are bipolar and/or schizophrenic because having known such individuals, the medication they take is necessary for a normal life. To stop their medication would be catastrophic.

The only good that comes from this movie is the soundtrack. The electronic music and classics such as Listen to your heart provide a nice reprieve from what’s shown on screen. The special effects are often done off screen and then we get to bear witness to the results. There are a few instances where CGI is seen, and for a low budget movie, it’s pretty decent.

Overall, I don’t recommend this movie. It goes to show that as a writer, one can write a masterpiece only to turn around and write utter schlock. This movie should be avoided. Don’t give Netflix the data that lets them think these kinds of movies are okay to be made.