Movies

The Guilty

I went into this blind with no knowledge of the movie’s origin until the end credits rolled where upon I learned it’s a remake of a Danish film by the same name. As a result my review is unbiased like so many others that compare it to the original it’s adapted from. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as police dispatcher Joe Baylor as he goes about his night fielding calls until one comes in from an apparent abduction. He takes it upon himself to ensure the woman’s return to her daughter and along the way uncovered truths about the abduction and we learn more about his character. He is a flawed man, angry, emotional and an asshole. You can tell his coworkers have a clear opinion about him, and his relationship with his separated wife is on the brink of no contact. He can’t see his daughter, and he has some court hearing to attend to in the morning.

The movie is directed by Antoine Fuqua, of Training Day fame alongside many others, and he expertly helms the direction, showing us how our own perceptions of a situation may be flawed and this in turn influences what we believe to be the correct course of action. The writing was excellent, and I’ve read that it’s a near word for word adaptation of the original film. The movie is very tense and moves along at a good pace. More and more voices are brought on until there’s just a few main ones which Joe interacts with. This movie is basically a character piece focused on Joe and therefore it is up to the strength of Jake Gyllenhaal to keep us entranced. To which he does with great success.

Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it for a watch. I have no knowledge of the original and as such, if you’ve seen that movie, I don’t know if you’d like this one since you would already know what would happen.

Movies

The Ice Road

Apparently Netflix paid 18 million for this absolute travesty of a movie. 18 million. Seeing as they like just throwing away their money, can I have some it? Can you all just toss out money randomly to people? It’d be the same as buying the rights to trash like this. Written and directed by a man who should stop writing movies as all he knows how to write is garbage – one Johnathan Hensleigh. Responsible for such atrocities as Armageddon, 2004’s Punisher, and Die Hard with a Vengeance. The Ice Road is the latest in a scheme of possible money laundering while also being yet another adaptation of the excellent Wages of Fear. Seems writers are hesitant to create an original idea because that would demonstrate having a brain to the rest of the world, something this writer lacks.

The Ice Road is Liam Neeson’s latest paycheck, and I don’t know if he’s starving for money or something, but he definitely needs a new agent. Same with Laurence Fishburne, and anyone of large standings. All the newcomers, I understand being in the movie. Gotta get your name out there, somehow. The plot, which should be simple, decides to add in a bit of revenge and conspiracy thriller into the mix. Three large rigs carrying 30 ton wellheads must be delivered to the Katka diamond mine to save 26 trapped miners. But wait, there’s more! The company in charge cut corners and doesn’t wanna spend the money to save the miners so they put their inside man with the drivers to cause them to fail. Things get personal.

Such brilliant highlights include: putting gasoline in a diesel engine and still driving mostly 20 hours before the engine fails (it would within 2 minutes of starting), being impaled by a tree branch nearly a foot long and pulling it out without bleeding to death in minutes, being submerged in -30 degree water for 5 minutes before being rescued and surviving, being rammed on the driver’s side of a truck by a large rig and tumbling down the side of a mountain and coming out without a scratch. But wait, there’s more! Which you’ll have to discover on your own because I can’t be bothered to spend another minute thinking about this trash heap.

Do not watch this filth. This idiocracy from the mind behind Armageddon should never have received any money to begin with. Its budget should have been 0 because it never should have been made. Whoever at Netflix thought to waste money on it should be removed from that position and never be given such choice again. But I’m serious Netflix, since you’re in the habit of wasting money, how about you toss it my way?

TV Shows

Midnight Mass

Mike Flanagan strikes again with an excellent and well told horror story. Everything he’s put out so far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He is a master at creating suspense and keeping tension through the entirety of the season. Midnight Mass is seven episodes long varying in length, usually an hour for the most part. Each one is masterful in developing characters and has just the right amount of calm before the storm. Each episode’s final 10 or 15 minutes accelerates the horror plot in unexpected ways; that is, until you catch onto what is happening then it becomes a sense of wonder.

I can’t say the references it has, or the pop culture ones either because to say would be spoiling the plot, and this is one show I really don’t want to do that. It is best to go in blind and be left at the mercy of what will unfold. The acting is superb by everyone involved, and I especially liked the Sheriff (Rahul Kohli) and Riley Flynn (Zach Gilford). The cinematography was excellent and helped add those feelings of isolation with the wide sweeping views of the lonely island. The music elevated the tension and suspense further, and I’m really glad that it didn’t give away if a mild jump scare was to happen. Speaking of those, they are far and few and the ones that do happen, are to be expected.

The imagery and religious symbolism within the show was used to great effect, and really made you think how well the subject matter of the Bible tied into the idea presented in the show. I’m not Catholic, so a lot of the Bible might have gone over my head, but the few passages I did understand, I really enjoyed the idea presented. In fact, one of the passages about Jesus, I always thought since I was a child, that it could be used for such an idea as this show. I read other reviews that didn’t enjoy the long monologues by many of the characters but I felt that they were needed because this show is filled with preaching and lots of sermons so the monologues fit into that idea of preaching.

Overall, I highly recommend the show. It’s a standout on Netflix, and one of their few really good original series. For fans of horror, it’s a must see.

TV Shows

Lucifer Season 6

Spoilers ahead, hard not to talk about them regarding this season.

I love the show as a whole but this last season is, to put it mildly, utter disappointment. You had 5 seasons of character development, of doing the procedural genre, and the fifth ended on an excellent note and a clear path forwards. Yet, the writers in their infinite wisdom, decided to forgo the path laid out and take three giant steps backwards, and only one forwards. This season should have explored the idea of redemption, and what it meant to have Lucifer be God himself. Instead, they took the cowardly option, reneged on that idea, and went back to the Devil being nothing but a devil. All the character progression thrown out the window.

The first three episodes were 40 minutes of filler, going down yet again with the procedural route, and leaving only the last 15 minutes or so to progress the plot in a meaningful way. There was a bit of intrigue and mystery which was quickly squashed with yet another familial arc to play through. And to top it off, they added time travel and time loops. One of the worst arcs to add to any show, it reeks of lazy writing. By adding a time loop, you insert paradoxes into the equation, and considering season 5 was all about the idea of free will, a time loop explicitly implies there is no such thing as free will. For you have to go about the exact same way as to what caused the loop to begin with.

The only redeeming factors, aside from the excellent acting from the cast, is that Daniel had a good conclusion to his character arc, that Maze and Eve got their happily ever after and that Ella finally learned of the existence of Celestials plus her own happy ending. The inclusion of SJW elements and “woke” elements was downright pandering, possibly to Netflix. The speech by the drag queen in episode two served no point than to please the LBQT+ crowd. The idea of Adam as toxic masculinity was again pointless, and did nothing and added nothing to the plot. Including cancel culture into it was meaningless, and felt like the writers were going down the checklist of what to add to please their Netflix overlords. Oh and because institutionalized racism is rearing its ugly head (always has been), they decided to include the plight of trying to change the police force from within… SWAT anyone?

This season starts off essentially in the gutter, makes a marked improvement as it reached the middle and then declines harshly in the final two episodes. That last episode, the last 20 minutes play out like a fever dream of fantasy. Everyone gets good things happening to them. Until the last 9 minutes, which are depressing when you think about it. Chloe lives 40, maybe 60, or even more years alone without Lucifer, finally dies, and joins him in Hell to help with psychiatry for people dealing with their own guilt. Great ad for psychiatry, but why did you have to ruin the show for that? Like Game of Thrones fans will feel regarding their last season, I feel the same way. Lucifer ended on season 5 and this trash season doesn’t exist. Similar to how they never made a fourth Indiana Jones movie, or never made an Avatar: The Last Airbender movie.

Anyways, these are just my opinions, and maybe other Lucifer fans will enjoy it. I certainly didn’t and therefore I couldn’t recommend it. But you do you.

TV Shows

SWAT (all 4 seasons)

I started watching this show because I was a fan of the movie with Colin Farrell, and I am a fan of Shemar Moore. And the more I got into it, eventually blazing through all four seasons, I have my ups with it and I got problems with it. First and foremost, the level of social programming at play and the PR publicity for cops is immense. Yet, it does manage to call awareness to societal issues that plague current and past times. Almost, nay, every episode is hammering home some sort of social justice which, over time, starts to pile up and become another mindless topic in the background. The fourth season is the only one that I enjoyed because it brought better awareness to the futility and failings of the American justice system. And to the racial politics at play, on both ends, cops and civilians.

That aside, it’s like watching trashy reality TV. You know it’s not great, kind of bad really, but you wanna keep watching to see what happens next. For my case, I had grown attached to the family structure at play between the characters. Between Hondo, Street, Luca, Tan, Deacon, and Chris. And then those outside that family, the Commander, Hicks, extra SWAT members – Rocker, Stevens and Mumford. I really enjoyed the dynamics between all of them, and that sense of camaraderie that follows. This for me was the bread and butter that kept me going. I wanted to see where each character would progress in terms of personal growth. I enjoyed Street’s arc the best, going from a hotshot to a dedicated member of the team. Hondo is the one I had the most issue with. He’s a straight up killer. And the show doesn’t acknowledge that. I’ve lost track of how many people he’s killed, upwards of 50 easily.

I find it ironic his character is trying to fight for what’s right for the black community and for the racial tensions between police and the community. He’s trying to stop the racial profiling at hand, yet if you’re a gangbanger with a gun, you’ll be shot dead. But if you’re a member of society who happened to pick up a gun for some misguided attempt at justice, you’ll be flash-banged and peacefully, albeit painfully, restrained. The show tries to make claims about rehabilitation, but with all the death, it’s clear that they’re trying to say only some lives matter and others don’t. 80% of actual swat calls are for narcotics, more often than not for someone OD’ing. Yet that show would have you thinking they’re used for investigative work (they don’t do that).

As for the acting, camerawork, and music: everything is quite well done. I really enjoy watching the shootouts, as mindless as they are. They give that fix of action in bite size format instead of watching a movie for it. I particularly enjoyed several driving sequences, they were inventive at times. And the camerawork takes some creative liberties that result in fun sequences. Music gets the blood pumping during the action, and pensive when it needs to be.

Overall, if you can get past the social engineering at work then you’ll have a fun time. If you can’t, you’ll not last a whole season. I’m excited for the fifth season, I’d love to see them explore Chris and Street’s burgeoning relationship further. If there was one coupling I was looking forward to the most, it was theirs.