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

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.

Movies

Moonfall

Everything about this disaster movie fits the typical bill for Roland Emmerich. CGI extravaganza with widespread near total destruction with only a handful of survivors, and long periods spent trying to gain audience sympathy for characters and their families. I came for the aliens and destruction that I expect from his movies.

The opening sequence and the final act regarding our trio of heroes were the best parts for me, and I definitely want a sequel. I want to see where it would lead. Patrick Wilson did a terrific job especially when it counted to get the audience emotionally teared up. Halle Berry was working with what she had, her character didn’t get the same impact as Patrick Wilson’s did. And John Bradley, of GOT’s fame, came off as initially annoying yet became loveable and misunderstood. His character’s arc I wish to see more of in the sequel.

I had to leave my brain at the door to properly enjoy this. It was fantasy up until the final arc where we finally got some sci-fi in the mix. The soundtrack was great; helped increase my heartrate in intense sequences. The actor playing the son of Patrick Wilson’s character was so terrible that I am surprised he got cast. It takes something special to pull you out of a B-movie’s immersion.

Overall, either you’ll find it an enjoyable popcorn or snack-filled movie, or you’ll find it downright dumb and silly. It can be both. If you like aliens and conspiracy theories in your movies, I’d recommend it. Or if you simply like seeing the world get destroyed in CGI destruction.

Movies

The Tomorrow War

With a title such as it is, you’d think it based off a book. It’s an original story, and for that I was thoroughly happy. A couple things were tossed out here and there that led nowhere. Simply pieces of lore or red herring, which I enjoyed because it misled me from my immediately assuming correct conclusions. I still foresaw aspects here and there but that was because the execution of the story still had to follow set tropes in certain instances. This is an American military science fiction action extravaganza. It is an epic in the sense of the scale of action and scope, while still containing enough emotional points of impact to not dull the brain. It maintains its heart by focusing on making the story integral to one man and his family, specifically the bond between father and daughter. And in a rare twist, also maintaining the bond between husband and wife. Too often these stories mention divorce, so it was nice to see a family stay strong even during the lowest points.

The special effects were excellently done, and mighty tasteful. Often I felt wanting to screenshot certain scenes or shots because of how they simply looked. Works of digital art. The monsters, aliens rather, are well done. Truly terrifying and horrific. I feel like someone watched that Alien vs Predator movie based in the arctic and wanted to make something similar but much better. The movie felt like a complete story, and thankfully, didn’t end on a cliffhanger that could be stretched into a trilogy. Chris Pratt did an excellent job, because he can make that change between comedy, action, and serious emotional feels in an instant. He’s very likeable and his character did feel like a father first, before being a hero. The supporting cast were just as powerful and emotion inducing, with Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Forester, and J.K Simmons as James Forester. Sam Richardson was a nice piece of relatable comic relief. His character had a natural response to the insanity of it all.

The music was emotionally swelling, and pretty much toyed with every emotion possible to manipulate you into feeling a certain way. Like the sense of rising heroism, or sacrifice. The grief of a loss. The tension and fear of an otherworldly foe that is essentially a better predator. Top of the food chain. And how it had that sense of epic scale during scenes that were something out of a science fiction book.

Overall, I loved this movie. I want to watch it again with friends. It had everything I’ve wanted with a monster movie, and it was long enough, while being a complete story. There was no cliffhanger, or what if. There was a definitive end. I highly recommend it. Amazon Studios is slowly churning out winners.

Movies

Space Sweepers

A South Korean science fiction epic about humanity in the distant future where the Earth has been ravaged by acidic soil turning the planet into a hazardous, poisonous wasteland. The elites of humanity live in orbit around the planet in habitation stations that are protected by domes which allow for artificial gravity and the possibility for air, water, and plants. 95% of the human population is trapped on the dying earth, while a corporation known as UTS controls who lives in orbit and for the eventual colonization of Mars which has been turned into a tropical utopia via a genetically enhanced super tree known as the Tree of Life. The founder and creator of these inventions is James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), a 152 year old megalomaniac, who has his own misguided views on what it means to be a good human being.

The rest of humanity that lives in orbit but not as a part of the habitation stations, live in squalor and are subject to ridicule and being poor. They find jobs as space sweepers; that is, they have their own ships acquired through loans (debt on debt), and collect space debris for recycling to earn what little money they can. The story focuses on one such crew, on a ship called The Victory, with Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri), pilot Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), mechanic and engineer Tiger Park (Seon-kyu Jin), and a robot called Bubs (Hae-Jin Yoo). Each one of these characters has their own little story that is revealed through the 136 minute adventure, some being tragic and some not, but overall, human stories. The crew comes across a 7 year old child (Ye-Rin Park) who is a wanted bounty by the UTS corporation. Hoping to score some money by ransoming her back, the crew of the Victory find themselves in a fight for the future of humanity.

I really enjoyed the philosophical debates and pandering found throughout the movie, especially when the main villain, Sullivan, would preach about greed yet failing to acknowledge how he himself is just as fallible. The use of mass media to disillusion and manipulate the population to further the whims of the UTS corporation hits a little too close to home and current events. The divide between the rich and the poor, and the visual representation of dirty folks versus clean, or having broken down shoes, is also quite relevant. Despite being set in the not too distant future, the idea that these issues would still remain has been long engrained in the minds of many writers and helps ground the story. Some of the events and technology that exists in the movie is straight up fantasy and the story gets around that by stating that it can’t be explained by anyone and that it just is. At its basic core, the movie is about different people coming together, of all nations, and working to achieve unity and peace while being beset by those that wish to covet power all to themselves. It’s about a family of misfits putting aside their differences to save the life of a child, and in turn, save themselves from their past misdeeds.

The CGI was phenomenal, and I really enjoyed the action scenes in space. In one particular battle scene, near the end, my mind went to the recent season of the Expanse and I couldn’t help but think how that show failed miserably to convey any sense of action or ship battles – and Amazon supposedly supplied it with a larger budget, ha! Anyways, Space Sweepers, is a thoroughly enjoyable ride and for being the first Korean space blockbuster, it is quite a good start. Some minor nitpicks here and there, like some of the actors or actresses felt like they were plucked from the street, but it’s all good. I recommend watching it, and I hope to see more science fiction movies like this from South Korea.