Pointless Nonsense

Posted in tv by Bill on April 9, 2019

Dead Pixels is a new British series about a MMORPG group. I’d seen it billed as “from the writer of Peep Show,” but it turns out to be from a guy who just wrote one episode (although he did write a fair amount for Misfits). Still, I’m glad I checked it out, since I enjoyed it quite a bit. Though the game is made up in the way that TV shows make up games and they don’t quite sound right, and the CGI they use for it is a little odd, they pretty much nail the gamer culture (although there’s a “fake geek girl” thing in the second episode that I didn’t care for), and it has some really funny moments in the first couple episodes.

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Posted in movies by Bill on April 9, 2019

Shazam is DC’s latest superhero movie, and very likely their best since Nolan’s Batman ended. I’ve never particularly liked the Captain Marvel/Shazam character, but the movie does a great job at the kid stuff, has a great sense of humor, interesting characters, some good action, and a main character, pictured, who looks so much like Maise Williams that I found it distracting for like the entire movie. Also Mary is cute as hell.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 2, 2019

The Twilight Zone is Jordan Peele’s update of the classic horror/scifi/suspense/fantasy/whatever anthology series for CBS All Access. The first episode is on youtube for free, though unfortunately it’s the weaker of the pair from the two-episode premiere Monday. Kumail Nanjiani’s episode is about 35 minutes of good story in a 55 minute episode (knowing it’s a Twilight Zone episode, we in the audience are waaay ahead of his character in figuring out what’s going on, for example), but Adam Scott’s second episode is a tightly plotted and suspenseful 37 minutes in an update of the classic Shatner airplane episode (I didn’t like the ending, but otherwise it was excellent).

Probably the oddest part is that Peele showing up to do the Rod Serling narration thing, he sounds a lot like his own Obama impression. So I kinda want Keegan Michael Key’s anger translator guy to show up.

I do like the SF anthologies, the production values are high, the casts are solid (Glenn from The Walking Dead, Greg Kinnear, John Cho, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kim from Better Call Saul are in upcoming episodes), and I’m interested in both original stories and updates of old episodes.

Posted in tv by Bill on April 2, 2019

Hanna is Amazon’s series adapting the 2011 Eric Bana/Cate Blanchett/Saoirse Ronan movie about the young girl murder machine, this time with Joel Kinnaman and Mirielle Enos (both from The Killing) and Samantha Morton’s daughter Esme Creed-Miles. Same concept: badass guy takes little girl, lives in the wilderness, turns her into a badass, then she goes after the sinister people who he took her from.

The problem lies in the fact that the movie was quite slow until it got to the action parts. And this expands a two hour story into eight hourlong episodes. Maybe it gets more exciting later, but it felt painfully slow in the first episode, and already knowing at least the basic gist, I didn’t want to sit through hours and hours to get to the destination.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 30, 2019

What We Do In the Shadows is FX’s TV adaptation of the vampire comedy movie with a cult following of the same name. The characters are different, the setting is changed from New Zealand to Staten Island, and Taika Watiti and Jermaine Clement don’t appear as actors, though they do write and direct still. But the basic gist is the same.

The reviews I’d seen were positively glowing, so I was a little disappointed that I found it to only be ok. There were some funny parts, and I always like Matt Berry (though I wonder if he always talks like that, or if he just does the same funny voice for every character). I’m definitely going to keep watching, it just was missing the weird energy and occasionally hilarious moments of the movie.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 27, 2019

Love, Death & Robots is an animated series for adults that is neither a Simpsons type sitcom nor an Adult Swim type oddball comedy, and I don’t remember the last time I was aware of one of those*. It’s a scifi anthology with a lot of sex and violence, so Heavy Metal would be the closest comparison**, though some of the endings are going for kind of a Black Mirror type thing. It’s not quite as juvenile*** as Heavy Metal, and not as thoughtful as Black Mirror, but the result is generally good, and a lot of the animation is really cool.

The animation is done by a bunch of different studios, so the look changes quite a bit from episode to episode. Some CGI (a couple of the big video game cutscene/trailer studios do episodes), some traditional animation, one is similar to the Into the Spider-Verse look. Some highly stylized, some photorealistic, one has a Pixar look, and another is almost classic Disney-ish. Some of the nudity is awkward in the same way that video game sex scenes are, but a couple times it’s done surprisingly well.

The first season is 18 episodes, but they’re short. Averaging about 15 minutes each. Apparently based on various scifi writers’ work (the only name I actually recognized was John Scalzi, but a lot of the others sound like they’re notable if you’re a scifi reader). With the short lengths, the plots and characterization are pretty thin, but usually it doesn’t matter, as the short length lets them get straight to the point. Or just fill the whole thing with action and not have much of a point.

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Posted in movies by Bill on March 11, 2019

Captain Marvel is a perfectly good movie but one of the lesser entries in the Marvel canon. In the Thor 2/Age of Ultron/Cap 1 area, but still much better than the Ed Norton Hulk one.

I liked the 90s setting, Brie Larson is generally a better fit for the character than I thought, the actor de-aging CGI gets better and better every movie, and I thought it was generally a good story and faithful to the character (and I liked that Chewie the cat got to show up, even though its name is wrong, and the blink-and-you-miss-it KSD cameo that would be completely invisible if she didn’t have bright red hair was cool). However, I thought the more comedic parts with Carol, whether that was Larson or the writing I’m not sure, didn’t work so well  (and I thought Carol in the comics was more the straight woman anyway). and the ending felt a little unsatisfying. That’s not to say it’s bad at all, it’s just not Iron Man or Winter Soldier or Ragnarok or Infinity War.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 11, 2019

Doom Patrol is the new DC Universe series that, much like The Umbrella Academy, features a team of misfit superheroes assembled by an eccentric old man.

The team (Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, Diane Guerrero, April Bowlby, and Timothy Dalton as the old man) isn’t any more likable than Umbrella Academy, but Alan Tudyk as the narrator/villain is amazing. It’s a scenery-chewing, mustache twirling, gleeful villain who is not some misunderstood sympathy case, or a poor boy who needed a hug and didn’t get one. He’s evil, a product of ex-Nazi experiments, and wants to fuck shit up. And he’s pretty damn funny.

Unfortunately, not all episodes involve him, and so far those have been very iffy, but it’s comfortable being silly and even dumb, which keeps it from every being entirely boring.

Posted in tv by Bill on March 1, 2019

The Umbrella Academy is Netflix’s adaptation of the surprisingly good comic by a guy from My Chemical Romance and Gabriel Ba, which is a riff on Doom Patrol (which coincidentally has a show on DC’s streaming platform that started at the same time) about a bunch of kids who were all born at the same moment, most of whom exhibit special powers, and some of whom are adopted by an eccentric guy and turned into a kid superhero team. Ellen Page plays Vanya, the Irish guy from Misfits plays the Seance, and a bunch of people I don’t recognize play the rest of the grown-up versions of the kids. Kate Walsh, Colm Feore, Mary J. Blige, and the big creepy serial killer guy from Mindhunter play others.

It’s decent, but something’s a little off. Possibly because to turn a six issue comic story into a 10-episode season of TV requires a lot of padding, but I felt like the impending apocalypse didn’t have any real urgency. The characters seem like normal TV-drama levels of angsty instead of the more badly damaged people I took them for in the comics (although that may have been more of my reading of it). The show relies too heavily on music, too.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 26, 2019

Whiskey Cavalier is the stupid title of ABC’s new spy/fed series with Lauren Cohan, Scott Foley, Everybody Hates Chris, the not Doom doctor from Nip/Tuck, and Dime Eyes from Cougar Town. Lauren Cohan is hot and should be the unquestioned star of this, but instead Scott Foley is kind of the main guy. Which sucks, because he’s bland. But it’s fun, action-y, I like the supporting cast, and I like Lauren Cohan even more.