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Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Actually A Great Movie....
The first rule of a musical: It needs to be a good story first, and the music needs to back that. It doesn't matter how good the music is if the story doesn't work.
This is actually a pretty good zombie movie. This has everything you need from a zombie movie: Teen angst, ironic death, sticking it to the man; straight up, the story is solid and the twists are earned. If you removed the music, this would be a solid movie.
The music, however, makes it such an awesome experience. The music does exactly what it needs to do: Move the plot, add to the exposition, and provide a necessary break. The music director had some serious fun here, and the music works: It's snappy as needed, shows the character at their worst, and basically works to emphasize the story.
Combined, the two elements just make for an actually incredible movie. You've got a strong story, characters that you feel their pain, and this feels like someone cared about the production value. This is a movie you need to see and I doubt you'll be disappointed.
Trying Way Too Hard
Remember those movies in junior high that tried to be entertaining and educational at the same time, but decided to go with education over entertainment? Yeah; this is another one of THOSE.
This show is trying way too hard to show that there was racism in the 1980s but little else. The problem is that it's operating in a weird universe where 1970s humor is in effect (stewardesses and hippies) while events from the 1990s are having an impact (David Koresh was mentioned) in order to describe race issues from the 1980s without proper context.
It just feels like it's being told by someone who didn't really live in the 1980s and is trying to cobble together different decades in order to create a specific effect. This could have been a great sitcom if they would have generalized the issue with being different to a more general audience (and there is an attempt at the end of the second episode), but it's just trying too hard to work in the racism issue.
Look: We know there's racism. I'm just not sure if yet another show that's just to hit people over the head with the idea is going to work. I'm not saying don't portray racism, just that a show needs to be entertaining first, educational second. Just look at how many edutainment shows failed because they didn't learn that simple lesson. This may be yet another failure in that regard.
There's just too much
The Ranch (2016)
Best Podcast on Netflix
For a conservative sitcom this is pretty good. The acting is good as the actors have settled into their roles. The writing needs a little more punch but it's still pretty good.
Now, if someone could just do something about the lighting. I miss Sam Elliot's sweet sweet stache but you can't see it due to lack of lighting. As such it's a great podcast....
Squid Man (2013)
SIlly Movie, Great Concept
In every super-hero universe you have the also-rans, the heroes with silly powers that you're never sure how they made it onto the team roster. This is the story of one such person.
This is not a fast-paced movie, and that works. A writer is looking at Squid Man's life, and the exploration of that allows exploration of the universe. It's sort of fun to look at it through the lens of a third-string hero, and this does not disappoint.
The acting is on point, and there is some excellent casting, and it asks all of the right question while making the right points. If you're looking for a movie that explores the super-hero genre and want to have some fun doing it, this is it.
The Boys (2019)
Definitely a Must Watch Show!
First off: If you're expecting a show you can watch with the kids, unless those kids are over 18 this ain't it.
That said, this was a pretty good show. The acting was incredible; these were well-developed characters that when combined with the acting were nicely believable, even with all of the weirdness. These are definitely also pretty examples for what would happen if supers existed in the real world, from the noblesse oblige and pure arrogance of the characters to those that were just amazed that they had powers.
Just because: Homelander was way too much fun. That guy was just pure evil. Maeve was also pretty good, as she could from jaded to sensitive; she was arguably be the best-developed character of the show. The Deep was also pretty good, especially when he was out of his depth (pun intended).
The plot twists were deserved; not only were they hard to predict but they were built up prior to their showing. Sure, there were some predictable points, but that's fine as those were based off character development; they were a natural evolution of the character in question. The real plot twists worked pretty well, up to the dreaded final reveal, although I dislike the end.
The special effects were exactly what were needed. While I would have liked to have seen more use of powers, especially in non-combat roles, overall the effects were pretty good. There's a lot of blood, digital and otherwise, but it works within the context of the show. You just don't expect to see a lot of niceness and that is definitely the case here.
There was some really nice world-building, especially as you were able to see what would happen if supers were real. You had challenges between supers, drugs for supers, and what would happen if supers got into religion. Again, while I would have liked to have seen more non-combat use (such as in construction and medicine) this was done pretty deftly.
The only other major flaw was that The 7 were an obvious pastiche of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Dr. Light). While this allows it to make some interesting points, none of them haven't been done to death elsewhere. Even Translucent only works to show how dark the world is, and is quickly killed when the point is made.
Nonetheless, this is a pretty good show and definitely recommended. I wish it would have ended differently, but it definitely the way it should have. Definitely worth the watch.
Grown-ish: Strictly 4 My... (2019)
Worst. Episode. On. Appropriation. EVER
This show tends to go between bad and mediocre; this is one of the bad ones. The gang goes after Vivek for appropriating black culture, but while some good points are brought up (such as people mimicking the culture because it's seen as popular and that the black community had to make their own culture from scratch), it fails on every other level; with the exception of the waves contest, everything else is done by pretty much everyone else. Even rap has its roots as a multicultural expression prior to gangsta rap taking it over.
This is the mandatory episode that was done to death in the 1990s when it was at least relevant. Now it just feels like it was done to be done; because of how much black culture is derived from popular culture and how much it has contributed to it, the mixture has just made the concept of appropriation more archaic, especially when almost none of the examples used originated in black culture.
Worse, Zoe takes a step forwards in realizing that not everyone shares her perspective on things, but two backwards in her relationship with Luca. While here first creation fails miserable, she then has an epiphany that she needs to create something specifically for her. The item she uses as the basis of the new suit is one of Luca's few cherished items, which Zoe has no problem giving away without even texting him about it.
While Zoe realizes that others have their own perspectives, she fails to take into account the feelings of her boyfriend. It just feels as if she's psychopathic more than a real person, and that's a twist the show needs to take....
Well, this only gets worse.....
In the episode the crux of the matter is that a solider shoots a superior officer in the unsupported belief that he was sexually abusing a teenage boy he had purchased from a local family. That is, there was no consideration whether or not the soldier had purchased the boy for sexual reasons or to rescue the boy from the dangers of his everyday life.
There are three issues here: 1) She could have reported him for doing so rather than taking action herself, especially as there was no evidence that the boy was being harmed.
2) Regardless of intent the solider was purchasing another human life, something that is illegal in and of itself.
3) The actual intent of the soldier was never a consideration.
The bottom line is that it just felt as if they went for the lowest common denominator rather than trying to actually present an actual case. That is, rather than exploring both sides of the situation it was pretty obvious they were just going for the worst case situation and not even attempting to make it interesting.
I am really starting to hope this show won't be removed....
Batman & Jesus (2017)
Preaches to Its Choir
The idea behind this "documentary" is that Batman is modern mythology, Jesus is mythology, and so they are equal on every plane, making Jesus just another story. They even have a "First Council of the Bat" to comment on the Council of Nicea, where fans are brought together to determine what is canon. Batman is also presented as religion in and of itself in order to better drive the point home.
Ignoring that there are several different levels of canon when you're dealing with Batman (movies vs. comics vs. cartoons), the logic here is spurious at best. There are a lot of historical inaccuracies, as well as conflating a lot of stories.
The really weird part is that no one form the opposing side is consulted; this is presented solely to demonstrate that Jesus is nothing more than a mythological construct and is therefore of no consequence. It just comes off as assuming that all believers treat The Bible as a historical document, something that is hardly universal.
If you believe that anyone who believes in religion is mouth-breather incapable of any form of rational thought, this is the movie for you. For anyone whose thoughts on religion have any kind of nuance whatsoever this is probably a solid miss.
Black Summer (2019)
It Just Needed A Climax
While this is arguably one of the better zombie shows, it's just missing too many things. On the good side, this is exactly how the first few days of a zombie apocalypse should be, with real palpable fear of the survivors and people doing all of the stupid things you would expect them to do.
However, the school led by the boys just looking to see people die feels way off; with all of the horror going on it just feels as if they should have been trying to find a way out with their parents, not breaking into school to set up a death tournament.
Also, while the idea of vignettes from different perspectives works, it does get a bit annoying after a time or two, and the whole using someone to grab something idea fell flat. There were also not enough scenes of the evacuation itself, and the final scene just feels like they ran out of money more than anything really planned.
There just needed to be some actually completed story arcs rather than a lot to be continued laters....
Bake You Rich (2019)
An Interesting Idea, But....
While this is an interesting concept (a baking contest for an industrial-strength bakery), this isn't a good fit for the Food Network. While it's interesting to see a bakers' competition where the winner is awarded an actual contract and to see what goes into choosing a product, the host just doesn't have a lot of real personality and there's really nothing for a home cook.
It just feels like The Learning Channel would have been a better fit for the show, but it's still somewhat interesting to watch.
For the People (2018)
When Bad Writing Happens to Good Shows
The first season of this was actually pretty good: By showing the two teams and treating them equal it offered a great take on the legal system. However, the second season has decided to assault the legal system and it's gone downhill from there.
In and of itself attacking the legal system is not a bad thing; it's just how it's done that's an issue. The first four shows of the second season have had a lawyer looking surprised that a white man committed murder and a court clerk taking custody of a child abandoned at court while facing down ARMED ICE officers. The latest episode had a kid whose confession was proven to be forced and they even found the real killer, but the kid was nonetheless found guilty. There's just something wrong there.
And the prosecutors have gone from being great at their jobs to barely competent. They are taking on the goofball trials (a guy who sells stolen body parts without knowing it) and barely able to handle them. Heck, you had two lawyers jealous of each other because of what happened at a kindergartners' career day.
The show's writing has seriously suffered as a result of it. There's just nothing entertaining here, and the agenda seems to overpower everything else like a bad scent. As long as that scent pervades the show it's just not worth watching....
Good, but needs some spine
This is one of those "great ideas, but the execution could be better" shows. The idea is simple: Mahisha goes to an ailing business, figures out what is wrong with it, and then attempts to fix it. What differentiates her show is that she focuses on businesses run by black women.
While it's a great idea, Mahisha acts more like she is on a talk show than business management show; that is, she runs the show like a low-grade therapy session rather than someone trying to help a business. There's a lot of really great advice given throughout the show, but too much of it is in the the asides, when it's just Mahisha talking to the viewer, rather than to the person she's trying to help.
This would just be a greater show if she wasn't so busy trying to coddle the people she's trying to help and ctually force some issues. As is it looks she's helping them past a problem point, but by not really solving the underlying issues it's just a matter of time before the problems come back. I'd really like to see some updates on these shows.
So it has some great potential, but it needs to grow a little spine to really take off.
Cooking on High (2018)
If you needed one argument against marijuana....
This is an aggressively low rent cooking contest, where two chefs bring their ingredients into a kitchen and then add the guest herb to the recipe.
If you're expecting cutting edge cuisine, insightful judging, or even cutting repartee, this is not the show for you. It looks like everyone had at least some of the product before even entering the kitchen, and so you get some of the most inflated scores for basic recipes you'll ever see with people that are way too mellow.
Overall, it's just what you would expect from people hitting one before entering a kitchen, and it's just not all that interesting....
This Tries Way Too Hard
Tyler is trying to hard to be a feminist rather than just going with it. With her campaign to reclaim the c-word and segments keyed directly to the feminist struggle as based on Dietland, the show just feels unbalanced and is more a tool of misandry than anything else. She should be challenging her guests more rather than giving them softball questions.
While it's supposed to the companion show to Dietland, it tends to focus too much on current events and the oppression of women rather than the topic raised on the show, and it could do a lot more towards a number of inequalities women face. Instead, it seems focused more on the evils women face rather than looking at the world of women today.
Interestingly, the guests are generally pretty good, and sometimes land some great points is spite of the host. It could be so much better if either focused more on the show or presented a more balanced picture of how women treated, but that feels unlikely to happen.
Decent Revenge Fantasy, But....
This is one of those weird shows no one likes to review. While the cinematographer is having some serious fun, and the acting is topnotch, this show is about half a step behind Ally McBeal. For women looking for a revenge fantasy this is actually a really fun show: The Jennifer organization is going after those who have escaped punishment through other means and empowering women to gang together to help each other.
However, past that the women running for cover because of Jennifer's actions are virtual throwbacks to the worst of feminism. Kitty is an old-school businesswoman who is ruthless and fears the patriarchy while Verena is a self-help guru trying to help Plum lose weight. Plum herself is willing to be guided by others but only stands up for herself in private; worse, she's obsessed with her appearance over her health.
The show just feels like it's a throwback to the 1980s and ignores a lot of advances since then. It's just strange that a show attempting to show how strong women are feels like they have to show outdated tropes of them rather than actually strong women....
Chris Rock: Tamborine (2018)
He Should Have Waited Two More Months....
There should a law against comedians performing until a year after the ink dries on their divorce papers.
The "killing kids" jokes fell pretty flat. Admittedly it looks like part was of cut off, but it came off was something he was saying just to say and this set was before Parkwood, but there was just no focus on it and while it could have been funny it was just lacking something, but that was true of the entire set.
Overall, he was flitting from topic to topic like a hyper-active butterfly and didn't really build on any of jokes. It just looks like he was pulling out all of the expected punchlines and using the rest of the set for therapy. As such it wasn't his best, but he was sort of brave for getting back on stage so soon.
Cloak & Dagger (2018)
Too Mired In Political Correctness to Be Good
Okay, I think I can miss this and not feel bad.
[Yeah, I'm bitter. I was hoping for so much more and got this drek. As I'm in a take-no-prisoners mood, HERE THERE BE SPOILERS. Happy? You have been warned.]
If you're looking for a show that makes you feel good about your wokeness, then this is the show for you.
Otherwise, take every homeless and black trope you can find, toss in a blender, and you have C&D. Tyrone starts off by playing the Magic Black Man (he saves Tandy by use of his powers), and then he turns into the oppressed black rich kid with the helicopter mom and something to prove (yes, he gets into a fight on the court because a white kid clocks him but the referee has ignored it and the previous blows). He even gets beat up by the white players who are more afraid he'll ruin their chances at state rather than back a black player on the same team.
You even have a little black kid whose brother is killed by a "cop" but "there's evidence of drug use" and no one has ever seen THAT cop before.
Over on the Tandy side of the ledger, her mom can't seem to hold down a job and seems to make her money suing former bosses and Tandy herself spends weeks away from home but when she shows back up there's no problem. While they appear to have come from money (you can always tell that because the girl has had ballet lessons), they're poor now, even though Tandy can seem to find whatever money she needs, such as that required to run away from New Orleans. Also, she stabs a guy, with all of the paranoia from that, while the guy was attempting to rape her (yeah: Her powers are triggered by rape).
Adding to the fun is the change in their powers: Tyrone can still teleport and Tandy summon her daggers, but apparently they can touch someone and see their thoughts: Tandy, of course, gets their dreams and good memories while Tyrone, of course, gets their nightmares.
So while this has some potential, as of right now this show needs some serious help...
It doesn't work that way!
On the good side, there is a lot of solid acting in this, and the cast should be almost universally proud of their performances. This should definitely go in the demo reels, and McCurdy is probably one of the biggest surprises considering that prior to this she was known best for Sam on iCarly. However, unless you are really fans of someone involved don't even bring this up.
There's just nothing to really make this show worth watching past the acting. The science never bothers to descend into reality, with vaccines being of the practically instantaneous sort (they are able to save a girl with literally an hour left to live), devices capable of determining if someone has been inoculated or not, and the virus itself causes someone to die once they hit 22 years old to the literal second with no warm up or anything. It's almost like they go out of their way to say that "This is just a show!" and it gets annoying after a bit.
My personal favorite has to be the Mennonite kid that has a full beard (a foot-long and bushy) because...Amish.
The tech also seems to be more plot-driven than anything else: There's no fear that the kids will record anything using their smartphones (and every kid has one) yet they work even with the cell towers being jammed. If you were a kid with no responsibility and your phones worked, there would be no end to the videos being tossed onto the Internet.
Worse yet is that the kids seem almost wanting to kill themselves. This is the first rural community I've seen with just two farming families and yet neither is exactly over-run by visitors (the Mennonites have no problem killing intruders (yeah, the MENNONITES!) and the other is just ignored) even allowing that it's close to winter. Worse, while the government is trying to kill everyone when a scientist pops up trying to help save lives he has to deal with more distrust than is warranted and one of the kids is actively trying to kill him.
These are also the worst conspiracy people ever. When the Minister and the Obligatory Evil Pharmaceutical company are told that someone has evidence of their attempted massacre, they brush him off. Worse, when they are caught the OEPC actually goes ahead and sends their virus to the general population six months after the fact, apparently figuring no one would put it together.
Outside of the acting there is nothing to recommend this series. Just avoid it at all costs!