Movies

Army of the Dead

Oh, Zack Snyder doing another zombie movie? Count me in. I thought to myself. Man usually likes to throw in some possible philosophical or mythological references or metaphors here and there in his movies. Oh main bad guy zombie is a character called Zeus. And he lives in a hotel called Olympus. If I didn’t know any better, that sounds like sorta a reference or metaphor going here. And later on, during the spoiler section, I will complete this Zeus narrative with a plot spoiler. Anyways, other than that, it is quite the generic action ride. Nothing that was done was new, and everything was spotted a mile away – I say, as I turned to my brother, and told him each time, “watch, so and so is gonna happen.” He hated knowing what was gonna happen.

Emotionally, the movie tried to tug at your heart but the glaring plot holes, and obvious next choice of action prevented that. As soon as the main character’s daughter showed up, in a horror survival movie, for some reason, these movies always have it end one way. Like that meme with Squidward, daring today, aren’t we? There was only one moment of genuine horror and that was the glowstick hallway scene. Everything else is a snooze. It also suffers from oh this actor, wanna bet you’re gonna end up ‘x’ and oh look ‘x’ it is. The other thing I do give Snyder credit for is having the zombies be tied into UFOs – not a spoiler, it’s in the first 10 minutes (look in the skies during a truck sequence). As for the acting, it was enjoyable and some of the characters stood out from the rest. Coyote, and the safecracker in particular. The former had the most interesting lore there that I wish could have been explored further, and the latter is just pure enjoyment as his reactions are the most relatable.

Spoilers ahead

Spoiler time

So we got a zombie called Zeus that lives in Olympus and he kidnaps women to turn them into alphas and also impregnate them to try and raise a child. The strongest opponents or revengeful, he turns into alphas as well. Every other zombie, besides Zeus and alphas, are slow and called “shamblers.” There is a hierarchy and again, Zeus impregnating women against their will. Hmm. Hmm. Nah, definitely no connection to ancient Greek mythology. Absolutely none. That bit aside, main character’s daughter goes into zombie infested town to save a mother of two children stuck in her UN camp. Said mother gets eventually rescued but helicopter carrying everyone crashes. No mention of her whatsoever again. Ending that always happens, happens. Oh no, parental figure must be killed by the child to ensure survival. How about we stop with this diabolic peddling, and, you know, not sacrifice the parent so the child may live? I know, quite the revolutionary plot twist. Oh, a dude survives at the very end and *gasp*, is infected? Wow, how original! Somehow this man escapes from a locked casino vault which required a safecracker to open it, and coincidentally there’s zero debris blocking his exit onto the surface which was just devastated by a tactical yield bomb?

Spoilers End

Overall, it was enjoyable if you just shut off your brain. Nothing new here, nothing groundbreaking. Snyder had no studio intervention here, like he has in previous movies, yet his plot was as bland and generic as a studio made film. Watch it if you’re curious or want another zombie movie to fill your zombie itch, or if you have nothing better to do.

Movies

Megan Leavey

This is another war/drama movie with a fair bit of patriotic values that will resonate with American viewers that I found was a rather well told story. It is a biographical movie about a young Marine corps corporal who teamed up with a combat dog named Rex. She – the title of the movie – formed a bond with this dog, and after ending her tour tried to adopt him. Kata Mara plays the title character, and I really enjoyed taking this journey with her. She did a great job portraying the after effects of war, the trauma it leaves on a person, and how she coped with the loss of being Rex’s partner. The story itself did great at maintaining tension as you never quite knew where Rex might sniff out a bomb. The few scenes that were meant to serve as Iraq were tense and exciting and I wish they showed just a bit more of the types of missions that she and Rex went out on.

The supporting cast members that were her mom and dad, stepdad, Gunnery Sergeant, fellow dog handlers and soldiers were very good at creating the narrative and establishing the life of Megan Leavey. Common as the Gunnery Sergeant was a pleasant surprise, he’s always a joy to watch on screen. He’s got presence even if he’s just a minor character. Edie Falco as her mother did an excellent job at getting on your nerves because her character is a minor step away from being trailer trash. Bradley Whitford was a little bit of a wasted choice here, he didn’t really have much to work with. Tom Felton’s acting is always fun to watch, as one fondly remembers him from his Harry Potter movie days.

The thing that I enjoyed most about this movie, which also brought a tear to my eye, was the bond between Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) and Rex (Varco). That connection that a dog forms with their owner and partner is something truly special. Dogs form an attachment of love that is just so very touching and beautiful, and you can’t help but feel your heart be tugged when you see Rex light up at reuniting with Megan. Honestly, I watched it for the dog. And I was so very happy that the dog didn’t die during the movie. Although Rex, himself in real life, has now since passed away back in 2012.

Overall, I recommend watching this movie if you’re in the mood for a touching biographical look at this woman’s life and that of the dog. Besides the more patriotic moments that have no bearing on my viewing, the moments of tenderness between human and dog are a treat to enjoy.

Movies

New Gods: Nehza Reborn

What a captivatingly strange movie! I had no idea what it was about going into it and after finishing watching it on Netflix, I must say I was pleasantly entertained. An epic story about God and Demons and reincarnation. From what I’ve gathered in looking it up, it is based upon the character of Nehza from the Ming Dynasty novel Investiture of the Gods. It is a 3D Chinese animated fantasy action adventure film directed by Zhao Zi and written by Mu Chuan. There is the option to watch it in English, but I always opt for the original language instead with English subtitles. The animation itself was fantastic, and well done. The computer graphics were amazing, and so were the many effects such as water, fire, and hair. All of it was incredibly well animated.

The story itself was pretty easy to understand despite going into it without knowing a thing. Basically, from my understanding, is that the story takes place 3000 years after the Ming Dynasty at which point humanity has devolved into a cyberpunk/steampunk world. Motorcycle races are held to captivate the hearts of those that are trying to survive in this trying world. One such racer, who becomes a champion at the start, Li Yunxiang is the protagonist of the story. When he encounters the greedy Ao Bing, who wants Li’s motorcycle for himself, that’s when everything explosively starts. Li is the reincarnation of the God Nezha, who is a God of fire. Ao Bing, is an ice God, and a dragon prince. His father is the main antagonist, the Dragon King of the East, who covets power above all else. There’s also a lot more but I’d rather you watch it than me telling you everything!

The action is on an epic level, with an awesome soundtrack to boot. Rock riffs and guitar during scenes of action, to melodic instrumentals during moments of philosophical teaching. A fusion of classic Asian instruments and music with modern takes, the soundtrack was a joy to hear and helped pump up the viewer when our protagonist is kicking ass. There is heart, sadness, and joy to be found, along with comical elements too – the character of The Masked Man provides this in ample shades. The voice acting was great, and the progression of the story elements was good. There was no moments of unfounded edits or cuts in the plot. What I did hate, and I’ve noticed is a staple of Chinese movies, is that animals are not respected at all, and are often killed to motivate a character to action. It is a cheap tactic to get the viewer invested and emotionally hurt. So I will spoil that for you, and warn you, that the animals do die.

Overall, it was a highly enjoyable spectacle and I do recommend watching this. I will be looking forward to the next installment with great interest.

Movies

Sentinelle

A revenge flick starring Olga Kurylenko without substance, panache, or critical thinking in the slightest. Our main character is seemingly invincible despite being tossed around and bruised up on a regular basis, she recovers in a matter of minutes while her opponents lay sprawled out on the ground. Cameras don’t exist in this world for the protagonist, only the villains are seemingly recorded. If they did exist, she’d be arrested by the halfway point and this movie would cease to exist.

It’s supposed to be a look at a soldier with PTSD and narcotic dependency issues but that falls flat. Only serving to establish her character’s appearance while bearing little influence on the plot itself. The movie The Beast did this much better but lacked in the action scenes. This movie’s action scenes are solid despite their flaws. It is a slow burn with a few scattered action sequences throughout with a mild rampage at the end. I laughed when she used her assault rifle for two kills and then tossed it aside in favor of her pistol.

Her character makes repeated infractions while doing her job that would have clearly had her incarcerated or put on suspension yet faced no consequences for her actions. The villains were your typical Russian bad guys, old and of diplomatic status. Her job as a soldier patrolling the streets of France was pointless to the plot as well, it delivered no message. It only served to give the character access to weapons she’d otherwise be inaccessible to.

I’m honestly at a loss as to why Netflix keeps throwing away their money on such productions. At this point, I’m halfway convinced it’s to launder money. Surely that’s more profitable than releasing this schlock. Another thing I don’t understand is why Variety’s skip it or stream it would recommend to stream it unless they were endorsed by Netflix. I fast forwarded through several scenes that simply dragged on and served to create a false sense of tension like when she’s walking through areas with her gun out. 40 second skips revealed what I knew would happen – absolutely nothing.

Overall, I definitely do not recommend this movie unless you simply wanna watch a roughly 40 second lesbian sex scene between Olga Kurylenko’s character and another. If that’s your interest then go to 24:53 into the movie until 25:32. Otherwise, skip it.

TV Shows

Behind Her Eyes

This is one of those shows that if they didn’t lie to you off the start, you never would have watched it. By this, I mean that it is withholding a vital piece of information regarding genre. It says on Netflix that it is a mystery, thriller, and drama but it’s missing the most important piece(s). Those are that it is also a supernatural fantasy. Now it if was just a show about a cheater and his involvement with his secretary who happened to also befriend his wife, and kept it realistic, I’d have enjoyed it much more. As it stands, I can’t help but feel cheated. The ending is seen a mile off and you can’t help but think “please don’t have the ending be what I think it is.” Guess what? It’s exactly the nonsense you thought it would be.

Going into it, I knew I was to be worried seeing that the showrunner is one Steve Lightfoot. He made the spectacularly bad and utter misfire The Punisher for Netflix earlier. I just loathe what he did to that character, and given his terrible writing in that, I felt this would suffer the same. And I was right. Behind Her Eyes felt like somebody watched The Skeleton Key (2005) and decided the ending and villains would be better if they were white. Now technically, I haven’t spoiled anything, but if you’ve ever seen that movie then you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. However, this could merely be a coincidence and the book that which the series was based on, could have had what show ended with as its plot. I never read the book, nor knew of it prior to watching this limited series. I’m just saying, it’s a little too uncanny with the similarities. Though in the Skeleton Key, they use hoodoo magic as the basis and here it’s astral projection.

Spoilers Ahead

Now if we do a deep dive into the ending of the series, and really consider what it means, there’s a lot to unpack here. An oversimplification of events would be that a gay man fell in love with a straight man, but knew that the straight guy would never go for him, so he changed his sex to a female to get with him. If we wanna get technical, it’s rape by deception. Sure, you’re having sex with your wife but inside your wife’s body, there’s a man’s spirit. But then your white husband gets bored of you or scared of you, and falls for a black woman. So now you become the black woman, and resume raping your victim. See what I wrote sounds way worse than what they showed in the series, but it’s what happened. Sounds much more horrible when you actually write it out and think about it. This ending is messed up.

A couple things I wondered were that a) a woman you just recently made acquaintances with, gives you a book that is very clearly someone’s personal journal that should in no way be with her, you just take without question and read it. B) A woman you called psychopathic, sociopathic or god knows what makes essentially a suicide note, and you come running to save her… Literally, all she had to do was not do that and it’d be all happy after. But no, you go to her house, and try and save her by… ASTRAL PROJECTION?! HUH? Honestly, being that dumb, she deserved her fate.

As for the actors themselves, they were pretty good. And pretty good looking, which I mean, they had to be for the erotic thriller aspect of it. Eve Hewson as Adele, the aforementioned psychopath, did really good as a person struggling with mental health issues and Tom Bateman as Dr. David Ferguson did really well at making you feel like he had something sinister going on. Simona Brown as Louise did great as the single mother looking for a connection, and did an excellent job at making me dislike her as a character. Robert Aramayo as Rob was entertaining to say the least, and very insidious. The direction was good, by Erik Richter Strand, but the writing felt off at times. The interactions between Adele and her husband, David, didn’t feel real. It never felt like this is how two people would ever communicate with one another. Like the writing has that specific feel that it was written for this scene and this camerawork. It wasn’t organic or natural. That’s right, Steve Lightfoot once again proving he has no business in TV shows yet somebody keeps giving him money.

Overall, just stay away from this show. It’s not worth the stream, nor is it worth having Netflix look at the viewing numbers and go “Wow, we should give more money to Steve Lightfoot! He sure knows what he’s doing. Boy, what a great showrunner and writer.” Please no, I don’t wanna see another show with his name on it because next time, I’m just gonna skip it. Like you should skip this show.