The Mist Vs. Nightworld: Writing the Supernatural Apocalypse II

I just recently listened to the audiobook versions of these two stories, and was as  struck by the similarities,  as much as the dissimilarities. Suffice to say, if you’re going to write a Kaiju Style Apocalypse, for maximum terror, these are the things you’re gonna need to include: monsters, death, intrepid survivors, and some human villains.

Nightworld, written by F. Paul Wilson, waaay back in 1992, (it was heavily revised in 2001) ,  was the conclusion to a seven book series that started with The Keep, and starred Wilson’s original character, Repairman Jack, (who is sort of like Jack Reacher, only he fights the supernatural.)

In Nightworld, the entire world is beset by  monsters who have emerged from sinkholes that circle the globe. This invasion is the precursor to the rise of an of Anti-God, named Rasolom, and Hell on Earth, as the sun begins rising later every day, and setting earlier every evening. Worldwide. (To someone with even the most basic understanding of Astronomy, that’s already pretty terrifying.) The endgame is an endless nighttime, where the various monsters, that are  allergic to sunlight, can roam, and eat, freely.

In The Mist, a novella written by Stephen King, and first published in 1980, in the anthology titled Dark Forces, the world is overcome by a dense fog, in which all manner of different  monsters live. It is theorized, by the characters, that scientists accidentally opened a portal to another universe, that flooded into Earth.

First, something naturally unnatural has to occur, in the sky or in the earth, like the sun setting at the wrong time everyday, fogs, mists,  tsunamis, or giant holes opening up in the ground. The precursor to all hell breaking loose (literally), for these characters, is if the natural environment has suddenly gone horribly awry.

Second, you are going to  need monsters, and not just Leviathans. You’re gonna need a variety of sizes to induce maximum terror. After all, you might be able to fight off,  or avoid, the big ones, (I say “might”) but smaller monsters can creep into human hiding places, and cause general havoc, as well as sleeplessness.

You’re going to need, not just one big monster, but a variety of different  sized monsters, from the small to the gargantuan.This is what makes these books different from a Kaiju story. They’re more like Kaiju-Adjacent.

You must have gruesome deaths. Some of these gruesome deaths must involve the use of some kind of acid that dissolves its victims alive. In Nightworld, there is a thoroughly disgusting collection of acidic  critters that fly around eating people’s faces. In The Mist there are giant spiders with acidic webbing, as if the idea of giant spiders isn’t  quite terrifying enough,I guess.

Some of your monsters must have wings. It doesn’t particularly matter what type of wings, as long as the creatures can fly. In Nightworld they have insect wings. In The Mist bat wings seem to be the preferred method of flight.

At least some of your monsters must have tentacles. Nightworld fulfills this requirement admirably, by having lots (and lots) of creatures with tentacles, grabbing people and pulling them into small apertures. The Mist has giant tentacles just sitting outside a grocery story, not even attached to anything, apparently. They’re certainly not attached to anything aquatic as grocery stores are normally on land. The Mist pours some extra gravy on its tentacular horrors by giving them tiny mouths.

At least one of the monsters encountered has to be so fantastical, that it defies belief , like The Mist’s Leviathan, or the creature that decides to take up most of the Atlantic Ocean in Nightworld.

Speaking of giant monsters, they have to come from somewhere, and out of giant holes, whether under the ocean,  or out of the ground, as in Nightworld, are the perfect portals for entry. You must have portals. What?! Them monsters gotta get here somehow.

Okay, once you’ve got your monsters sorted into their various sizes, along with where they’re visiting  from, and their transportation, you then have to lay out who it is they’ll be eating. You must have an intrepid group of people, whose job it is to be eaten, trapped, survive, or defeat the monsters.

Intrepid – fearless, unafraid, undaunted, unflinching, unshrinking, bold, daring, gallant, audacious, adventurous, heroic, dynamic, spirited, indomitable;

I’m not sure if The Mist qualifies in that department, as the people in that story seem scared shitless, throughout the entire ordeal. Nevertheless, since all the other criteria are met, we’ll refer to them as intrepid anyway. After all, they do some brave things,  like fighting the giant spiders, and arguing with the crazy religious lady. The characters from Nightworld are actually described as brave and fearless in the book. In fact, one of the characters has a speech about it, and they all engage in some boldness, some daring, and  even some indomitable behavior.

Your intrepid group of people must consist of, at least one straight, honest, stand-up, White guy. It is a requirement that he be both honest, and White, and no substitutes will be made. He must be the kind of White guy who is strong and bold, but also compassionate, idealistic, and willing to protect the little guy. He must be able to clearly articulate why things need doing, and convey those beliefs to the other characters.

In other words, you need Captain James Tiberius Kirk.

Nightworld fulfills this quota with two…count’em!, two stand-up White guys. Although,  I feel the writer is clearly overdoing it, by having one of them be a former priest, and the other an ancient swordsman.

In accordance with the James Kirk Axiom, you will them need a pretty  blond  White woman. A redhead or possibly auburn haired woman can be used in a pinch, but she must be heterosexual, and conventionally pretty. No arm fat, tattoos, arthritis, or nervous diseases need apply. Not even allergies. She must be in perfect physical health and form, and above all else, she must remain un-traumatized by any of the preceding events attending the end of the world, like watching her family and friends be eaten.

And for Gob’s sake, no women of color! Apparently women of color, (and any women with tattoos) all get eaten first…or something. Whatever is happening though,  they never seem to make it to the being intrepid  part of the story.

There must be at least one child, preferably a boy, but a young girl will suffice. They can be White, but it is not a hard and fast rule, as it is not  required that they be genetically related to either the White man, or White woman. Sometimes it can just be some kid one of them picked up somewhere. Extra points if the child is an orphan who  just witnessed their family be eaten by the monsters, for maximum trauma. How else are you going to convey to the reader how dangerous the world  is, without the help of crying, screaming children. Also, you can always fill up some time by having the child be in extra special danger, by having them wander off alone, or be autistic, or something.

Nightworld is interesting in that there is a perfectly healthy and un-traumatized child in the story, which is turned on its head, by having the child become autistic, when he helps save the world.

Surrounding this trio are what I like to call the intrepid, but disposable people. They are the  literary equivalent of non-playable characters. Don’t get too attached to them, these characters could be eaten at any second. They should consist of at least one (if not more) men of color, preferably Black or Latino.  You can break the rules and have there be at least one  woman of color in the story, but they can’t have any lines of dialogue, unless its exclamations like “Look out!”, or “Aaaaaahhhh!” Any exposition should be left to any extra White men, that you have added,  preferably a teacher, or a scientist. Nightworld has a priest, who knows what’s happening, and can explain it to those characters who are out of the loop. David Drayton, from The Mist, is an illustrator, which kind of changes things up a bit, but he is still the narrator.

Nightworld is not a good template for casting your characters because all of its major characters are White. (People of color probably didn’t exist when it was written. I have it on good authority, that we weren’t invented, in Horror literature, until about 1999. Well, Stephen King had discovered us, but we had to be magical to get in his stories.) There should be no more than ten of these non-essential characters. More than ten and the reader will  lose track of who they should be terrified is going to die next.

And last, but not least, you must have at least one asshole. No story about the end of the world is complete without at least one human being, who is trying to kill off the other human beings, and  that you wish would hurry up and be eaten by something. By anything.

The Mist is exemplary in that it has two…Count ’em! Two assholes. Norton, the asshole neighbor of David Drayton, and Ms. Carmody, the asshole religious townie. Norton fulfills the role of the asshole who wants desperately to be in charge, but no one will listen to him, who becomes increasingly unhinged. He eventually dies by skipping out into the mist to feed himself to the monsters.

Ms Carmody fulfills the role of the asshole, who is already thoroughly unhinged, before the story even begins, and the intrepid people are now trapped with her crazy ass, and the other scared  people start thinking that human sacrifice makes sense.

Nightworld  fulfills this requirement, in exemplary fashion, by also having multiple assholes in the script. In the unrevised edition of the story, (from before 2001), it was the husband of one of the intrepid people. In the newly improved book, its some random bad guys from  previous books, who mostly don’t come into contact with our intrepid gang.

And finally, the ending can’t be all wishy-washy. (We’re looking at you Steve!) In The Mist, there really isn’t much of an end to the story. We don’t know if David Drayton and his friends ever get out of it, or how long it lasts. (Thankfully the movie corrects this problem, which is all I have to say, in that the movie definitely has an end.) Nightworld correctly follows the rules, by having the good guys win, at the last possible second. You know the rules. Disaster is only averted when the countdown reaches one.

Now my people, go forth, and kill your darlings.

Gruesomely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron Fist Season One

I’m a long time martial arts movie fan. I have clocked a lot of hours watching people fake punching and kicking each other. If you’re that level of fan of martial arts, it’s okay. You can skip this show. There is waaaay too damn much talking in this show.

On the other hand, it’s not an awful show. It’s not half as awful as the critics would have everybody believe. It certainly could be a better show, and it doesn’t live up to any of the expectations of the trailers, as bad as they were. Let’s just say all the action you saw in the trailers, is most of the action in the show. My guess is they knew they couldn’t hook us in by showing the many, many hours of people snarking at each other in offices,and  wearing nice clothes, so decided to go with inelegant fight scenes. Think the show Suits, but with worst dialogue, and sometimes somebody gets punched.

The plot is as stated. Danny Rand flees a mystical Asian land called Kun Lun, where he is the legendary Iron Fist.He comes to NY and gets involved with Colleen, Claire Temple, and the Hand. We spend most of the show running around with this trio, from place to place, jostling with Ms. Gao, and the Hand, macking on Colleen like a creepy stalker, and trying  to avenge his parents deaths, which involves the corporation his father used to run, his father’s old partner, and that man’s children, the Meachums.

My special advice is to watch the show on your tablet or phone ,and every time you see people talking in an office, fast forward through that. I fast forwarded through almost all of that part and was still able to keep up with most of the details of the plot. I would also advise you not to listen too hard to the dialogue because you will go to sleep. Unless Claire’s on screen. She’s awesome. As always.

I was going to give some type of in depth review, but I’m not interested enough to invest that much work into the characters and plots and shit. So here. Have some links and articles that carefully explain what went wrong with this show.

Iron Fist was inspired by 1970s kung fu movies, but no one seriously expected Finn Jones to become the next Bruce Lee. The show focuses on plot over action, so it makes more sense to compare it to Daredevil. And that comparison makes Iron Fist look like total garbage.

Daredevil‘s hallway fight was praised for its stylish choreography and camera work. There’s a real weight and brutality to Daredevil’s blows, and the scene uses a long tracking shot so you can see all the necessary action.

Iron Fist paid tribute with its own hallway fight scene, utilizing a very different style of filmmaking.

 

In Iron Fist, the camera constantly cuts away before the blows connect. The editor chopped Danny’s choreography into two or three shots per move, so you don’t catch the full impact of his actions. It’s like trying to follow a ballet performance through a dozen tiny windows around the stage.

Once the fight reaches the elevator, we get a completely unnecessary split-screen view of Danny disarming an opponent. At 1:35 in the above video, the split screen actually makes it harder to see what he’s doing.

[READ MORE]

*I’m going to go one step further here. This weekend was the second season premiere of Into the Badlands. This show is everything that Iron Fist should have been. Into the Badlands is full of action and every one of its fight scenes is given the love and dedication that it should receive for an action show. Contrast this fight scene with the one from Iron Fist:

 

Oh, and here is the fight scene between Zhou Cheng and Iron Fist. Zhou Cheng is being played by Lewis Tan, an actor and model  who is half White, and was one of the most prominent contenders for AA Iron Fist.Btw, this is one of the best fights in the entire series.

 

http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/20/14988036/lewis-tan-iron-fist-casting-marvel-netflix-asian-representation

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*This critique lays out the five major criticisms of the show:

 Monday, March 20, 2017

Five Comments on Iron Fist

Marvel and Netflix’s latest series dropped this past weekend, a week and a half after the pre-air reviews pretty much savaged it, calling it the partnership’s (if not the MCU’s) first complete dud.  What I found particularly damning about Iron Fist‘s reviews was their uniformity.  When one reviewer gives you a pan, you can blame the reviewer.  When a dozen reviewers give you pans that all make exactly the same criticisms–a dull and unsympathetic lead performance, an increasing emphasis on an unappealing villain, storylines that focus too much on boardroom shenanigans, lousy fight scenes–you’ve probably got a turkey on your hands.  Having watched the entire first season of Iron Fist, my only quibble with the reviewers is that most of the flaws they ascribe to the show were also present in the second season of Daredevil, which received generally favorable notices.  In fact, it’s not so much that Iron Fist is worse than Daredevil‘s second season, as that it is more boring (it lacks, for example, a magnetic central performance in the vein of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher), and this makes it easier to notice flaws that have been present in all of the Defenders shows, albeit taken to far greater extremes here.  The boring part means that the show doesn’t really deserve a full review, but there are a few points about it that I thought were worth discussing.
http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2017/03/five-comments-on-iron-fist.html

Continue reading “Iron Fist Season One”

Stuff I’m Watching

The Ghost Brothers (TV)

 

This isn’t a movie. It’s a TV show about three guys who all had paranormal experiences as children, and decided as adults that they would like to investigate the existence of ghosts. The second season of this show airs April 15th. In the meantime the first season is available for streaming on TLC.

its actually pretty good. One of the reasons I’ve always hated most ghost hunting shows is that I thought of them as White guys running around in the dark, yelling at ghosts. There’s none of that here. The feel of this show is very different.

ETA: I’ll write more on the Ghost Brothers at a later date.

 

Ghostbusters (2016)

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I told myself I wasn’t going to watch this, but it aired on Starz, earlier this month, and that’s why I pay for cable. So yeah, I’m one of five people on Earth who actually love this movie. It was entertaining and I found a lot of positive  things outside of the one negative thing that made me want not watch it.

The one negative thing was me being mad about Patty, played by Leslie Jones, not being a scientist. I still don’t like that, but I also don’t feel she was ill treated by the creators of the movie. Although Leslie’s personal humor doesn’t match mine, I still really liked her character. She was one of the funniest people in the movie and gets some of the best lines. This one negative thing was outweighed by all the positive things I enjoyed.

One of my biggest takeaways was the depiction of friendship between women, which is almost never authentically shown in genre films, in favor of having a lonely badass. These characters are friendly and supportive of each other. To use Erin and Abby, for example, the subplot of how they met is Abby believing Erin when she claimed she saw a ghost when she was a child, and no one else believed her.That no one else believed her is something  that affects her for the rest of her life, prompting her to abandon Abby, and never have anything else to do with the paranormal. Later, she and Abby reaffirm their bonds of friendship when Erin risks her life to save Abby at the end of the movie. When Erin has a very obvious crush on their dimbulb male secretary, played by Chris Hemsworth, the other women never make fun of her, or make her feel ashamed of it. They just accept that she likes him, while gently cautioning her to be careful of sexually harassing him.

I liked Patty, and felt she was given ample screen time. The other characters make no big deal about her not being a scientist. She’s an expert in other things. She talks her way onto the team by offering them something they don’t have. Historical context and knowledge of the city, allows Patty to provide a lot of the movie’s exposition. This is not exactly her being “street -smart” (I suppose technically she is “street-smart,  but only because she is her own kind of nerd, who reads History books for fun. So yeah, all the ladies are in fact, nerds! Patty just is not a Science nerd.)

The other women never act as if they know better than her, or try to lord it over her that they have credentials, and even defer to her expertise on matters they know she has studied. They accept her, like Holtzman,  as one of the contributing members of the team. Yes, she gets them a car, but that’s not why she was allowed to join them. It’s something she offers, along with their ghostbusting suits. She also gets some of the funniest lines in the movie, most of which are quiet personal asides  that if you blink, you’ll miss them.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of a friendship between her and Holtzman. Abby and Erin were already friends, and Holtzman must have occasionally felt like a third wheel, but she and Patty seem to hit it off pretty well, hanging out together whenever they’re not working. Patty  saves Holtzman’s life at one point, and nicknames her Holtzy.

Speaking of Holtzman, she is my favorite character in the entire movie. She’s just plain nuts and really, really,  loves her job. The trailers don’t really do this character justice, just like they didn’t make Patty very likable. She’s impossible to describe. She just has to be seen. She loves destruction, dances around with blowtorches, and is utterly fearless when it comes to her various science toys.

ETA:

So my niece finally watched this movie and had a great time. She couldn’t wait for me to get home from work and watched it without me, for which she was mildly chastised. And guess who her favorite character is! Guess! Patty, of course, who she thought was hilarious. I don’t know that my niece wants to grow up to be a Ghostbuster, but she really enjoyed herself, and the movie, and that’s enough for me.

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Once again, I’m in the minority when it comes to liking a movie. I actually had a good time watching this. I really liked the visuals, and performances, even if the story was full of massive holes. I watched this with my niece and she seemed to have a good time, too. I think she wants to be Harley Quinn when she grows up, but I told her no, because that’s not a good look for a Black woman, unless she’s gettin’ paid a lot of money, like Margot Robbie. It would also require she be tortured by Jared Leto, after which I’d have to beat Leto’s ass. (He should probably have his ass kicked just on general principles, anyway.)

I’m one of five people on Earth who think that Suicide Squad winning an Oscar for Best Makeup is both hilarious and outrageous. Really!? Over Star Trek? Yeah, right!

It really shouldn’t be that shocking that I liked this. It stars Will Smith and I’ll basically watch anything he ‘s in. Margot Robbie wasn’t too bad in this. I thought her version of Harley was pretty entertaining and not too unlike the comic book version of the character. And then there’s  Queen Viola. I just love the idea of Viola Davis and Will Smith starring in a superhero movie together. Although, the next time we see them together, I hope its something a little more serious.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Unfortunately I did not get to see this in the theater.  I did rent this for me and my Mom to watch for a couple of days. She is a die-hard Denzel fan, and she had expressed an interest in going to the movies to see this. Now this is pretty remarkable for two reasons. She’s not a huge Western movie fan, (even though she was the one who introduced me to Bonanza), and its really hard to get her to go to the movies with me, as she’s  picky. In the past few years, I managed to get her to see Jurassic World, World War Z, and that Halloween Madea movie.

We watched this movie over a weekend and she really enjoyed it. She was deeply happy that Denzel survived to the end of the movie. I enjoyed all the characters but I was kind of bummed out because the one Asian guy got killed. It doesn’t really compare overmuch to the original. It has a very different feel, although the plot is exactly the same. The action sequences were very exciting, and I enjoyed the banter between the various characters. It suffers from lone woman syndrome, and a bad guy who is evil just because he’s evil. (Not that every villain needs a backstory. Its just something I noticed.)

It has a Benetton ad cast, and although the one Mexican guy, Vasquez, is annoying, the stereotypes are mostly kept to a minimum. The men of color in the cast all get to have their action moments. Despite the presence of Vincent D’onofrio as Jack Horne, my favorite character was  Billy Rocks, the group’s blades-man. The most intriguing relationship was between Billy Rocks, and  Ethan Hawke’s character, Goodnight Robichaux. I kept wondering about the nature of their friendship, and afterwards I wrote my own headcanon, where Billy saved Goodnight from suicide, and Goodnight felt indebted to him. It was very clear that one of Billy’s purposes was helping  Goodnight hold his shit together.

My Mom liked the Jack Horne character a lot. He was  melancholy and  gruff, with a penchant for making profound philosophical statements, that mostly puzzled the other characters. Denzel, as Chisholm, was his usual mildly snarky, pragmatic self. He wasn’t really stretching it in this role, but Denzel sparkles on even his worst days, so its all cool.

No, this movie isn’t as good or influential as the original, but its worth watching some cold Saturday night, with a bowl of popcorn, and some good friends.

Legend of Tarzan (2016)

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Let’s just state, for the record, that I’m a little bit older than some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr. As a result, I grew up with the idea of Tarzan, and am well used to the tired trope of Tarzan the White Savior. I grew up reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and watching some of the movies with my Mom, whose favorite Tarzan was Johnny Weismuller. Yes, we did see the problematic aspects of having some White guy being a better African, than actual African people, in Africa, but since almost all of TV, and movies, consisted of this trope, it was easy to overlook it, yet impossible not to see it.

That said, I did watch this movie when it came on cable, which only proves that I will watch any damn thing when it comes on TV, where Alexander Skarsgard takes his shirt off, and growls like a lion. It does not mean I’m not “woke” or “aware”. It just means I occasionally have low standards for what I find entertaining, especially if I can knit to it.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this movie for the sheer silliness that it is. Yes, the premise is just as stupid as the original films, and one still wonders what the hell White people,  (and lets face it, there were no PoC clamoring for this movie to be made) were thinking when this movie got made. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s okay, as your life will not have been upheaved.

For what its worth, the creators did keep the White Savior stuff to a minimum by adding Samuel L. Jackson, who does the saving of various Black people, and some of the actual Congolese people get lines and screen time. Skarsgard is ridiculous in this role,  and spends most of his time trying to look dramatically serious, while trying to save his girlfriend, Margot Robbie, from Waltz’ slimy Englishman. I still don’t know why Waltz kidnaps her but its got something to do with diamonds. It doesn’t matter anyway because the plot is really not that important. What’s important is that Skarsgard is bare chested for most of the movie’s running time.

There is indeed some tree swinging, and some gorilla punching, and for some strange reason, Djimon Honsou is in this movie as an antagonist. He only gets about five minutes of screen time, and maybe six lines. Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie too, and pretty much just acts like Samuel L Jackson, despite the fact that everyone else is acting like they are in a period movie, which is very jarring. I wanted to turn off the sound, so I didn’t have to listen to him speak, but then I wouldn’t have been able to hear Alexander Skarsgard talking to various animals, and yodeling. Yes, there is a classic Tarzan yodel. When I was a kid, this didn’t particularly bother me, but every time I heard it in this movie, I laughed my ass off.

But really, I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself, if you ever watch this movie: Why is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie, when they have Djimon Honsou?

Samurai Jack: Season Five Premiere

 

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Samurai Jack is quite possibly one of the most uniquely gorgeous cartoons on television. Now in its final season, it’s pulling out all of the stops for some truly groundbreaking and beautiful art. The plots of each episode  aren’t complicated but the overall arc of the season is complex enough to make watching it a worthwhile endeavor.

*Fifty years have passed, but I do not age. Time has lost its effect on me, yet the suffering continues. Aku’s grasp chokes the past, present and future. All hope is lost. Got to get back. Back to the past. Samurai Jack.

— Jack, in the opening sequence

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Voiced once again by Phil Lamarr from Pulp Pulp Fiction, and MadTV, it’s  some fifty years in the future, and Aku has finally succeeded in taking over the world. But he’s become bored and jaded. He’s no longer interested in hunting Jack, or trying to kill him. He let’s his robot drones and cultlike followers do his dirty work for him. A new group is hunting Jack called The Daughters of Aku.

Jack lost his legendary sword long ago and wanders Aku’s corrupt landscape, with no purpose. He failed to stop Aku from taking over the world but he can’t or won’t die. One of the side effects of having gone through the time portal to kill Aku is that he no longer ages. He longs to die, but out of long habit, fights Akus servants, over and over.

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It’s a gorgeous looking show with lots of action, and is rather mordantly funny, with the humor found in unexpected places. In one of the earlier sequences we watch as Aku goes about his day, receiving  penitents, eating breakfast, and doing some stretching and deep knee bends, because the Evil Ruler of the World has to remain nimble.

In fact, Samurai  Jack and Aku have a lot in common, as they navigate a world radically different from what they thought things would be. They’re old, jaded, weary, and tired of fighting, but just can’t seem to stop. Jack is  facing new foes, old friends, and trying to live in a world he failed to save. Aku realizes that ruling the world isn’t as wonderful as he thought it would be, but he can’t stop either. So,  the show contains a surprising amount of depth and pathos, where you have two former foes, who are tired of being foes, but have invested too much in it to stop doing it.

The art takes a bit of getting used to, because its wholly unlike any other cartons on TV, and is very minimalist and deco.

Its an excellent cartoon ,worth watching on  Adult Swim, Saturdays at 11 PM.

 

About Those Iron Fist Reviews

I’m still on the fence about this one. I’m just really dubious about watching this. It’s not that I hate the idea. It’s the awful reviews this show has gotten, along with the distinctly lackluster trailers I’ve been seeing.

Don’t get me wrong, I will be watching Iron Fist, as I don’t have to work this weekend, so I’m  free, but when I think about watching it, I  cringe. Normally, I wouldn’t pay much attention to what critics feel about something. I like to make up my own mind and critics have hated plenty of things I absolutely adored, like Suicide Squad, and the current movies of M. Night Shyamalan, but then again, they sometimes get things right. I was bored out of my head with Batman vs Superman, for example.

I think I may skip over some episodes though, and start with the third or fourth one. I don’t think I want to  binge the show straight through. Nevertheless, I do promise to try really hard not to hate-watch this show, and lay out its good and bad points. I do not however promise not to be snarky. It’s one of my skillz. I’m also going to try really hard not to compare it to my favorite Martial Arts show, Into the Badlands, which is airing this weekend, right after The Walking Dead. I’m not promising anything. I’m just gonna try.

<It does not help matters that Finn Jones is just as much of a clueless dick as his character is rumored to be.>

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/iron-fist-review-marvel-netlfix-dud-luke-cage-daredevil-jessica-jones-a7634361.html

http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2017/03/iron-fist-marketing-issues

http://www.gq.com/story/netflix-iron-fist-review

 

*And IGN is reviewing each episode as they watch. There are plenty of spoilers and the reviews are pretty evenhanded.

http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/03/17/marvels-iron-fist-season-1-review

 

*And in the spirit of hte occasion,  here’s a hilarious  video  of Tony Jaa kicking and punching everyday objects!

http://video.gq.com/watch/tony-jaa-kicks-and-punches-everyday-objects

Supernatural Season 12: The Raid

This seems to be the season for movie related episodes. This episode seems like an homage to one of the greatest Action movies to come out of Korea in the past ten years: The Raid: Redemption. Yeah, what you see in the trailer is pretty much the entire plot of the movie. In this episode, […]

via Supernatural Season 12: The Raid — A Blog devoted to “SUPERNATURAL”

I’m Watchin’ Thangs

Hi there!

Have some mini reviews:



The Expanse:

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This is an extremely mini review, as I’ve not actually sat down to watch an entire episode, even as they keep accumulating on my DVR. As I said before, I don’t usually watch Space Operas, not because I consider them uninteresting, but because I usually don’t have time, and just end up missing the entire series. The same thing happened here, with The Expanse. I also haven’t read any of the books in the series by James Corey, so I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to those. I have to confess I’ve only watched the trailers and a few snippets. I certainly like what I see and the show is blowing it up on the diversity front. The show has not neglected to round out the cast with Latinxs, Black people, and different Asians. So if that’s  important for you, then check it out.

The character in the photo above is the six foot tall, New Zealander, Frankie Adams who plays the bad ass Bobbie Draper, and already she’s my favorite character, even though I’ve seen nothing more than snippets of her scenes. If you liked Vasquez from the movie Aliens, you will love Bobbie, who is continuing that grand tradition of having bad ass, WoC warriors in space.

The show appears to have improved quite a bit since that first season. At some point I going to need to sit down and binge the Hell out of this show, and give a more in depth review.

The Magicians:

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This is the first episode of the second season and I remain mostly unimpressed. It’s not that it’s a bad show, because there’s plenty in it for the discerning viewer, it’s just that it has several competing tones, which can be kind of jarring if that’s not something you’re used to. On the one hand the show wants to have a lighthearted, jokey, bantering feel, most especially in the scenes where Elliot, Margot, Penny, Quentin and Alice are in Fillory, a fairytale world mentioned prominently in season one, and the real world travails of Quentin’s friend Julia, who got kicked out of Brakebills last season, and had been fumbling to get back into the magical community, ever since.

Julia’s storyline is dark, depressing ,and unnerving, as she seems to spend the majority of her time being sexually, and emotionally abused, and belittled by various characters. Last season, she was emotionally manipulated by a Hedge witch named Marina, and raped by a creature she thought was a god, after she joined a cult. This season, the person trying to both sexually, and emotionally abuse her, is named The Beast. With a name like that you would have to be a complete jackass to trust him, nevertheless, I wish we got to see a lot less of him. (As with all TV villains, he thinks he’s pretty charming, and talks too damned much.)

There’s also a third thread where we keep flipping back and forth, from Fillory to Brakebills, as Quentin, Margot, and Alice, investigate what’s happening in Fillory with Dean Fogg, and that’s confusing and  doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the episode.

You cannot have this rather casual and jokey attitude sitting side by side with the constant degradation of this other character. It just makes the whole show feel bad.  Julia seems like she’s in another show entirely. I’m not sure where they’re going with her storyline, but I wish it wasn’t. Its distracting from what is otherwise a mildly entertaining show about magic.

In the first season, we spent our time establishing various characters, and setting up for season two. This second season is going to be more like the second book in the series, called The Magician’s Land, where the four major characters become the Kings and Queens of Fillory,  except for Penny who doesn’t get a crown. I was mildly peeved by this. Even though Penny is still an asshole, I feel he deserves a crown too, and why was the lone character of color left out of it.

The show gets LGBT representation right in Elliot, but gets a  black hashmark for killing off all the other gay characters (including the lone Black woman, this show has ever had, in season one). It also gets a demerit for making the one  PoC a complete arsehole (Penny), and the other PoC is the Dean of the school. Putting the lone Black person in charge of giving orders, is a trope a show adds when it wants to have diversity, but has no clue how to write characters of color.

There were some things I enjoyed, though. I liked some of the humor. The idea that they could only win their crowns by passing some elaborate tests, only for the tests to turn about to be 90’s pop culture trivia questions, was pretty funny. And of course, I love Elliot, who is always saying the absolutely correct things, at the correct times. He’s the best written character on the show. Snarky and intelligent, but vulnerable, when he needs to be.  Quentin has improved since last season, becoming more sure of himself, but I credit the actor for that, not the writers.

Like I said, its not a bad show, and there’s something in it worth watching for the casual viewer, but the tone of the show is wildly uneven, as it swings between humor, and sexual violence, and I don’t like that.

Legion:

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Well, I watched two episodes of this show and I think I understand whats going on, or at least what the creators are trying to do, while also trying to have a plot. The first episode may appear to be plot free, but it does have one. The title character has been institutionalized for attempting to commit suicide. While there, he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoia. I don’t know how accurate the depiction of 1960’s  mental institutions is, but I didn’t have a problem with the depiction, outside of the usual tropes of “crazy patients”, in the background.

While David is  there, he meets a pretty blond girl, that he falls in love with, while he’s being hunted by some type of clandestine Federal organization that wants to study him, because they believe he’s a powerful mutant. This entire plot takes two episodes to resolve because we keep taking detours into David’s mind, as he hallucinates, imagines scenarios, or just remembers things. We spend a lot of time in David’s mind and I think the purpose is to make the audience feel as disoriented about the things happening to him, as David feels. It certainly is a different approach to a Marvel character.

Now, in the comic books, David is the son of Charles Xavier and Moira McTaggert(?) and is the most powerful telepathic being on Earth, more powerful than his father, which is why he spent the early part of his life in a vegetative state, unable to cope with his abilities. In all fairness, I haven’t read about this character in a very long time, so I’m sure he’s gone through a bunch of reiterations since the 9os.

I was reluctant to approach this show. I generally avoid shows that involve blatant displays of mental illness, especially after my own bout with mental illness in my twenties (which has since been in a kind of remission), but the fear that that state of mind could reoccur, is always present, especially when watching shows where mental illness is heavily featured. I went through some very, very rough times , and don’t like to be reminded of one of the worse periods of my life.

The closer the TV depiction of mental illness is to reality, the more I dislike it, and I was expecting to dislike this show, but it turned out to be not that bad. At least not for me, but if you’re a person currently going through some mental shit, you might want to use caution, when watching this. A lot of the show’s visuals are very disorienting. I don’t know that I’ll make  regular viewing of it, but I don’t dislike the show. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s visually spectacular.

 

Humans: 

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Actually this is a very interesting show, in its second season. Yes, it’s about sentient robots, but that’s where the  comparison, between it and Westworld, end. This  British show takes place in the real world, and recounts how humans and robots interact, as robots begin to displace human beings from working life, and how that interaction is unsettled, when some of the robots start to become self aware.

In the first season, we followed a group of self aware robots (Niska, Mia, Leo, and Max) who’d been split up and were trying to find each other. They’d all been created by the same man, now long dead. This season, one of the robots (Niska) uploads their self-awareness code into a system that all of the robots (called Synths) have to occasionally link to, and more of them become aware. Now they have to deal with not just this new awareness, but what kind of relationships do they want to have with humans.

The show also deals with the fallout for the Hawkins family’s interaction with Leo and his family, last season. How does this affect them? What do the children think? How does their interaction with self aware robots affect their future, and will the government find out they were involved? Added to that, the Hawkins parents are still in therapy, dealing with the husband’s brief infidelity with Mia, something I found to be deeply interesting. Did he or did he not cheat on his wife, and how does she process what he did, when he says it didn’t mean anything.?

There are several threads we follow through the episode.  We follow Niska, who is investigating human love, as she picks up a girl at a nightclub, and goes on trial for killing a man. I still don’t see how she can get away with appearing human  because she doesn’t talk or move like one. Why the humans don’t see it, is one of the show’s bigger mysteries.

There’s a secondary story involving a Dr. Morrow played by Carrie-Ann Moss (from Daredevil). She’s investigating how and why the Synths have become aware, and what they want. At some point during the season she will meet up with the more militant Niska.

There’s a third storyline involving Detective Karen Voss, who is also a Synth married to, and masquerading as a human. Its interesting because her husband knows what she is and still loves her anyway. She in turn appears to be very much in love with him, too. There’s also Hester, a newly sentient Synth, who is still discovering who and what she is.

This show is a lot less action packed than Westworld, and asks different types of questions on the nature of sentience. Its more thoughtful, and philosophical, and states its ideas much more blatantly. There are certainly fewer shootouts. There are also more PoC, but the narrative doesn’t explore that particular angle, in depth. Its mostly left for the viewer to suss out how race relations work in a society where robot servants look like any race of people. Do the robots of color get abused, or exploited more, I wonder?  I’m still trying to figure out whose idea was it to make them so human-looking, and why. The Synths don’t behave like humans, though. They speak and behave smoothly, stiffly, and slowly, so its fairly easy to tell they’re not human.

Taboo:

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I don’t even know how to describe this show anymore, as it has gone completely off the deep end, with wild things happening in every episode. But this week’s episode was actually refreshing in that James Delaney’s enemies have finally caught up with him and brought him low. From the jump, James has been three steps ahead of everyone but this episode proves he’s at least not invulnerable or omniscient.

There’s also the added factor that he seems deeply fascinating to many of the women in the narrative. From the little mulatto girl who thinks he’s going to take her to America, to the actress that lives with him and pines for his attention, to his own half-sister Zilpha who, in a fit of cold rage, just killed her boozy, abusive husband.

Zilpha arrives at James house, in the middle of the night, and says she did just as he asked her to do. Since we’ve never heard James express any such sentiment, its no wonder he begins to question her sanity, and if so, is it his fault, although this doesn’t stop the two of them from getting their freak on, after her husband’s funeral. Its not meant to last however, as James, hallucinating that his mother is drowning him, tries to choke Zilpha.

There’s a new player in town, an African man named Chichester, and he’s asking questions about the ship that sank with all hands,  but from  which James conveniently escaped. This is a character who pulls no punches, as he blatantly  taunts the Company men, reminding them at every opportunity that he was once a slave. His investigations into the East India Company’s illegal slave trade prompts them to attack James by burning his newly bought boat. There’s also the matter of some stolen gunpowder that James is attempting to sell to the Americans. So now James has plenty of goods to sell but no way to reach America to sell it.

Brace, James’ houseman, tries to tell him that James’ mother was no saint, but James ain’t hearing none of that, although he does keep having flashbacks to images of his mother trying to drown him. As the tension between all these characters ratchets up, James is starting to lose it, too. He becomes even darker and more violent, biting out a man’s tongue for betraying him, which is saying something, when you consider that, in an earlier episode, he ate part of a guy and cut off another man’s finger. He’s having more hallucinations, too. Is he succumbing to the madness that claimed his father, and that he thinks is claiming his sister?

Later, after recovering from a drunken stupor, he discovers the drowned body of Winter. Did he do this? Is it a setup? We’ll find out. We’ve got two more episodes left and I’ll have a full rundown on the finale when it airs.

 

On a more personal note:

I’m still very fatigued, although a lot less fatigued than I was at the start of the year. Its become my habit to go to bed as early as possible now, which means that a lot of these shows sit on my DVR until the weekend, and that’s what happened with The Expanse and Ash Vs. The Evil Dead. Also, there have been so many new shows, and season premieres, that its just hard to keep up with all of them. I’ve limited myself to reviewing the pilots and premieres only, except for those shows I’ve already been reviewing, like Supernatural, and The Walking Dead.

In March I’ll be reviewing the return of Samurai Jack, in its fifth season; Iron Fist, which I’m not especially enthused about, but hey!, I managed to sit thorough half of Jessica Jones, so how bad could it be; and the return of Into the Badlands, which I will review in the entirety of its second season.

So, TTFN!

Geeking Out About: Brooklyn 99

Brooklyn 99

Today I am  singing the praises of one of my favorite sit-coms, Brooklyn 99. I don’t often watch comedies, because most of them  aren’t particularly funny to me, try too hard, or I just don’t have time for them, and I was not going to watch this one, because I have trouble watching cop shows, (Apparently I can watch cop comedies, I guess.  I loved Reno 911, and thought this might be similar to it. It both is and isn’t.)

Brooklyn 99 is just as ridiculously over the top as Reno 911, but the characters are much more likable, and competent. They’re certainly less raunchy, as this is a Primetime show. The 99’s characters are the kind of people you want to meet and make friends with. The characters from Reno 911 are  much more like  your annoying co-workers, that you’d  like to punch in the  neck. The 99 characters are the kind of people you laugh with and cheer for. The Reno characters are the kind you laugh at, while hoping they don’t  blow anything up. What’s refreshing about Brooklyn 99 is, you start the series with what you think are just a bunch of standard tropes, and gradually, these characters become fleshed out, and more complicated, but not in the usual ways.

This show is also an example of getting diversity right. (Except for the lack of Asians, which it really needs at least one. ) I love the attitudes of the characters. They really do act as if they are a family.

There’s none of the passive-aggressive hostility that passes for humor in other ensemble shows. The characters acknowledge that they are very different from one another, there’s occasional teasing about that, but no one is ever made to feel ashamed of, or less than, for who they are. The only time characters are ever made to feel ashamed, is when they behave badly, and their friends call them on their shit. There’s a general acceptance by the other characters when someone is just a certain way, even if that way is mildly annoying, like Charles Boyle, or in Rosa’s case , occasionally terrifying. The closest you get to meanness in the show is Rosa, but she makes up for it by only kicking the asses of people who mess with her friends, (or inanimate objects that ain’t actin’ right.)

One of the things  I really like about this show is when characters make mistakes, they’re willing to acknowledge they made the mistake, and either apologise, or atone for it. They’re willing to not only  admit when they’ve been foolish, but when they’ve been doubling down on their foolishness too, which is a refreshing change from the real life model of people who actively work at being their worst possible selves. Brooklyn 99 makes me like people, and is a perfect example of how to Grownup.

Here, in some kind of order, are:

Det. Rosa Diaz  (Stephanie Beatriz)

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Rosa is the kind of girl you want to have your back in a fight. If I was arranging a team of people to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, Rosa would be Michonne. She has an appetite for destruction that is awesome. In fact, one of the best birthday presents Gina ever gave her, was a hammer, and some time alone in a soon to be demolished house. According to Rosa it was: The Best Birthday Ever!

Strangers see me like  Rosa, or Captain Holt, depending on their personal anxiety levels. Rosa began the series as a typical anger management case, which is funny when you contrast that with how model pretty she is, and this is part of the show’s charm.The humor comes from the character traits and how various teammates respond to the events in the show. They’re usually involved in some situation that requires them to react, and because their personalities are all so different, you get some spectacularly funny moments. Occasionally the show likes to give us a real treat and put certain personalities together to solve some issue. Hilarity often ensues.

Over the years we find out many surprising things about Rosa, like she’s occasionally intimidated by people too, she used to be a ballet dancer, and  that she was raised by nuns, but when we first meet Rosa she’s beating up a copy machine, with a battering ram, and at first you think she’s just a stereotypical “Spicy Latina”. Thankfully, anger isn’t all there is to her. She’s also honest, forthright, insightful, supportive, loyal, and encouraging to her teammates. Rosa is the shows truth-teller. She specializes in stating uncomfortable truths, and doesn’t shirk from that, even when those truths are about herself.

 

 

Gina Linetti  (Chelsea Perretti)

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If I had to choose someone to be friends with, it would be Gina. She’s that best girlfriend, who always knows where the latest get-togethers are, and how to finagle her way into them. She’s carefree and deeply self involved, but not in a neurotic way, because this is a woman who has realized her fabulousness and is very comfortable with her greatness. The funny thing is, she is pretty fabulous, mostly because she acts like it, and truly believes it. She has a deep and abiding love affair with her phone, through which she receives copious amounts of gossip. She’s also totally  unwilling to let others forget how wonderful she is. Gina is also one of the laziest assistants to ever be in an office. She’s so fabulous however that not only does she not make any secret of this, she is hilariously quite proud of that, (and her interpretive dance skills).

One of the most surprising things,on the show,  is her relationship with Jake, which I truly enjoy. They’ve know each other since they were little children, having grown up in the same neighborhood, and they have one of the best platonic friendships I’ve ever seen on TV. One of my favorite moments is when Jake gives Gina the forehead kiss, as if she were his little sister, and she lets him do it, although she really isn’t affectionate, like that,with anyone else on the show, and I think she’s older than him.

 

Det. Jake Peralta  (Adam Samberg)

Jake Peralta is everybody’s cool best friend (and Charles Boyle would be more than happy to tell you this).

Jake begins the show as an irresponsible, sloppy, childlike character, but you can see his growth over the course of three seasons, as he learns to be honest with himself and others, and even manages to win Amy’s affections, after being so annoying to her at the beginning of the show. Heck he was annoying to me, and definitely to Captain Holt, but I’ve actually grown to like, and even admire  him.He has matured throughout the seasons but not so much that he doesn’t still think that frosting his hair blonde looks really cool.

When I first started watching this show, I was watching it for Andre Braugher, and I initially dismissed Jake as someone I would have to simply tolerate. I thought he’d be the typical White male protagonist who is the center of all the stories, and  everything he did and said, would be treated as gold. But that’s not what happened. Adam Samberg is willing to step aside from time to time, and let the other characters shine, and  teach his character how to grow up. Samberg understands he doesn’t need to be the center of every episode. He’s no William Shatner and that’s refreshing.

Jake always had trouble showing affection, not because he didn’t want people to think he was gay, but because he had father issues, and is still immature enough not to know how to handle affection from others. But he has grown, over the course of the show.

Witness his gradual change of character, as he attempts to become the kind of man who deserves to have someone like Amy, in his life. Jake is still immature, but he genuinely loves Amy, and tries to be the kind of man who can make her happy. Amy’s  love encourages him to want to be a better man. The distinction is subtle but there.  Amy is  the polar opposite of him, and he acknowledges that keeping her with him might require him to act more mature. Jake is also willing to acknowledge his mistakes,  apologize for them, and attempts to do better, not just for Amy, but for all those he considers his friends.

 

 

 

Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher)

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Captain Holt is the father figure of The 99. He’s the no-nonsense, emotionally restrained, backbone to the department. Or at least that’s  how it starts. I love the way this character has grown since the beginning of the series. He started out as real hard-case, coming down  hard on Jake, to get him to be more responsible and adult. He has since come to  understand Jake a lot more, understanding that Jake is at his best when he’s allowed to just be himself, realizing his influence over Jake, and he’s even begun to loosen up  just a bit, under Jake’s influence.

Throughout the seasons, we’ve witnessed Holt loosen up a more, finally becoming comfortable with his detectives, and allowing them to see just a little of his silly side, although he would probably be insulted at that description, not having ever believed in, or condoned, silliness or frivolousness, of any kind. At first, I just saw Holt as The Inscrutable Negro, mysterious, and unflappable. Now I really enjoy this character and I’m always eager to see how he’ll surprise me, during an episode by, for example, having an impromptu dance-off with some street thugs.

Over time, Holt has come to admire Jake, and think of him as a son, which is a total turnaround from when they first met. After all, Jake possessed every quality that Holt disdained, and he didn’t believe Jake took his job seriously, but now he’s very proud of Jake and encourages him to do his best. Jake, who spent the earliest part of his life trying to please his absentee father, and never measuring up, has found the perfect father-figure in Holt.

Holt’s team  admires him, and  strive to make him proud of them.  Captain Holt is an out, gay, Black man. His job might care about him being gay, but his team doesn’t, and they are always respectful of his relationship with his husband Kevin, treating the two just  like every other couple on the show.  For example, when Holt wanted to visit Kevin, who was on Sabbatical in France, Amy, Charles, and Jake, volunteer to dogsit the couple’s Corgi,  Cheddar. The humor doesn’t come from “Oh, these gay men have a cute dog.” No, the humor comes from the usual wackiness that ensues because Amy, Charles, and Jake are such different personalities which clash over babysitting Cheddar.

The show doesn’t browbeat you over the head with After School Special moments, though. How Holt handles his sexuality, in an environment where it is much more likely to meet with resistance, is done with grace and dignity. His gayness isn’t the joke. In fact, no one’s race is ever a joke, and no one’s gender is ever used as a joke.

I admire the hell out of this character. Hilariously he’s the character that most people who don’t know me well, see me as. My close friends find that hilarious, btw.

 

Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews)

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Terry is like everybody’s fit  uncle. He looks intimidating, but after a while, you find out that Terry is merely extremely health conscious and an actual Teddy Bear. Terry is such a gentle soul, that he has to be carefully talked into using his tremendous strength ,and has deep anxieties about firing a weapon. I love how the show bucks stereotypes of Black men, by having two very intense looking black men, who  are nothing like they first seem.

Terry is a devoted family man who truly, madly, deeply, loves his two twin baby daughters, even though he thinks they are possibly trying to kill him. Known for speaking of himself in the first person, Terry  also loves yogurt, exercise, and his job, which mostly involves wrangling all these different personality types, to focus them on one thing together.Terry is the Peacekeeper. His job is to make sure everybody is getting along and ready to work. He’s strong, encouraging, and always speaks up,and goes to bat, for his people. Captain Holt depends on Terry to run the day to day operations, and considering the types of personalities he has to work with, Terry is doing an excellent job.

 

Det. Amy Santiago

Amy is the girl I was in High School, except I was a lot more snooty. Amy is that best friend , that you hated just a tiny bit, because not only is she smart, organized, and ready, she’s a classic goody-two-shoes, (with just a tiny competitive streak). In fact, I think when that description was created, Amy was who they had in mind.

Amy is an extremely moral and ethical person, who believes in strictly following the rules, and lots and lots of planning. She dislikes how Jake likes to cut corners, or sometimes just wing it. Amy doesn’t wing anything if she can help it. She loves to please people she admires, and will go out of her way to get Captain Holt’s approval, going so far as to cook him a large and tasteless Thanksgiving dinner, or agreeing to babysit his Corgi, Cheddar.  I love Amy because she really is a girl after my own heart. Like me, she is a stickler for prudent planning,  and  loves a nice sized binder of information.

But Amy’s life is so rigidly defined that she needs a little chaos, and that’s where jake comes in. Initially, I think she hated him because Jake is everything she isn’t, but as Jake began to prove his love for her, presenting her with options of when and where to be with him, and then waiting for her to decide, she began to see Jake’s true colors. As I said,

 

Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio)

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Charles is everybody’s favorite grandma and/or best friend. Hes loving , admiring, supportive, encouraging, and Jake’s right hand man, even though Jake didn’t choose him for it. He’s the kind of guy who always has a bowl of candy on his desk to offer to co-workers who are feeling a bit down.

I love Charles because, well…he’s just lovable. Joe Lo Truglio, formerly from Reno 911, is the complete opposite of his character, on that show. On 911 he was a venal, angry drug user, but  Charles is a warm, gracious, polite, foodie, and that you believe this, is a testament to Joe Lo Truglio’s acting skills. Charles is always upbeat and optimistic. He always looks on the bright side of a situation, no matter how horrible that situation may seem to others, like when his best friend, Jake accidentally shot him in the butt, or when his dog died. Charles was the only one capable of seeing the silver lining. He has a tendency to be a floor mat because he always puts others needs before his own. Now that he has a young son, whom he adopted, he has someone at which to throw all his tremendous caring.

He’s very devoted to Jake and I love the show has this depiction of a close m/m friendship without screaming no homo, everytime he and Jake show affection.

 

Det. Adrien Pimento

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Adrien is the newest recurring character at Brooklyn 99. Having suffered an emotional breakdown, after going undercover with some mobsters, Adrien is in a very  fragile emotional state, when he returns to his job as a detective. He’s paranoid and full of anxiety, and definitely suffering from some form of PTSD, but his mental state is never made the butt of the joke, and is not actually connected to his zany behavior. He acts wild, not because of his emotional fragility, but because he is thoroughly lacking in any boundaries, like breaking into Jake’s apartment to do Tai Chi, in his underwear. The humor comes from the reactions of his co-workers, who never have any idea what Adrien might  do next, not from making fun of his emotional state. The show skirts a fine line between acknowledging his emotional disability, and  understanding that it doesn’t necessarily inform  his behavior.

Adrien is definitely what’s known as  Chaotic Good.

Adrien is a good man, which is why the rest of the team accepts him. Also,  he and Rosa develop an intense, frantic, (and inexplicable) attraction to each other, although Adrien  explains, at first, that he’s not capable of having a relationship with her, they do eventually decide to get married.  Rosa seems   okay with Adrien’s unpredictability, and takes most of his decisions  in stride. She never tries to change Adrien, or make him behave, (although when she first met him she called him a freak, that she will only fall in love with). After a while, she just accepts him for the wild card that he is.

Actually, once everyone has gotten used to Adrien, they  just try to work  with him, or around him, for example, Gina is one of the few people Adrien will actually obey, when she tells him to do something, and Charles pretty much loves everyone, when he’s not terrified of them. Over time, the team’s acceptance  and trust starts to heal Adrien’s emotional wounds, and he starts to feel confident enough to form healthier relationships with others.
I’m geeking out about Brooklyn 99 because it’s an example of a show thats getting its humor and diversity right, with smart, funny, well rounded characters. It resumes its fourth season on April 11th, on the Fox network. Go figure!

Taboo : Episode One: Well Yeah, Its Racist! Ableist! And Sexist!

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I have a lot to say about this show, so let’s get started.

This show has been hyped to within an inch of its life, so naturally, I was really excited to see it. It stars Tom Hardy, and a host of other British people I didn’t bother to learn the names of because…ITS FUCKING TOM HARDY!!! And Tom Hardy is one of the few actors that I will  watch read a listicle, naked, while he sits in an empty room.

Now, let me get  this out of the way before I get started reviewing. There was a nasty rumor started about this show before it aired. It basically accused Hardy of racism because, as this one person (and once I researched it, I realized it’s really only been that one person, under a pseudonym, on a gossip website), says that he cast himself in the role of a bi-racial character, and that  the show is full of racist slurs against that character (which is true), and Africans in general.

Now, once this rumor hit Tumblr, it grew legs, and some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr immediately went on about how Hardy should be cancelled, how the posters will hate him forever and ever, and how much they hate the show.  My attitude was they should first research where the rumor came from (because at this point, two days before the show aired, that’s all it was, and a little too convenient for my tastes), wait until the show actually aired to formulate an opinion, and well, the show is set in 1800s England, so yeah there’s gonna be some Africa hatred occurring on the show.

Now, if you’re offended at hearing racial slurs, no matter the time period, I understand, and you should, by all means, not watch shows that will upset you. But just so you know, having racial slurs in a period piece is really just historical verisimilitude, and is no different than watching 12 Years a Slave, or Django Unchained. That is exactly the sort of thing White, English, citizens did very casually in 1814.  If you refuse to watch any period film because you’re sick of hearing racial slurs in movies, then I understand that.

I did watch the episode and here’s what I came away with. None of the racist slurs are aimed at Hardy’s character, but they are said ABOUT him, usually behind his back, and as far as I know, he isn’t a Black bi-racial. His mother’s race is not mentioned, although it is mentioned that his father bought his wife. (Buying a wife was not uncommon in that time period. All women, and not just Black ones, were considered commodities then, and white women were routinely swapped around, for all manner of reasons, like securing business ventures, or gaining someone’s inheritance.

At no point in the narrative is he ever shown as a victim of racism, or as any kind of victim at all, other than of his past and own conscience. This is a character with a lot of power over the people he meets because he’s unpredictable, and no one has any idea what his agenda is. This is also a character who realizes this during the course of the episode.

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The people around him are upset because they thought he was dead, having been killed in Africa. When he returns, he is a very different sort of person, who speaks several Native languages, and talks in obscure metaphors. Also, his father suffered a bout of insanity just before his return, and people think he inherited that, not knowing that the insanity was caused by arsenic poisoning. There are more than a few sexist, and ableist slurs in the dialogue, but that one outraged person, who started the racism rumors, didn’t seem to catch any of those, which are also entirely in keeping with the time period. That was  how people talked and treated those with mental illness at that time. So, I’m gonna warn you, if you don’t want to hear that kind of stuff either, you need to skip this particular show.

I noticed that instead of condemning the show, they condemned the actor for writing  it. There has been  a long argument on Tumblr about how much culpability White actors should bear for  starring in vehicles with racist  narratives, or taking roles that could have gone to PoC. I try to take that on a case by case basis. This is not a defense of Tom Hardy, though. This is a defense of the show. If it turns out to actually be problematic in ways I can’t bear, then I’ll will stop watching it.

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So far, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of it, and   will be watching it, on the regular. It’s a gorgeous, dark, gritty show, but not as bad as Game of Thrones, although there is what I thought of as a gratuitous sex worker scene. I was expecting to really get into the characters, but was surprised to find the political intrigue very compelling.

Hardy plays a man named James Delaney, who returns after a long sojourn in Africa and being thought dead.  In the meantime, his sister and her husband, have  inherited everything, including a parcel of land their father owned in America. It’s a huge surprise when James shows up at his father’s funeral. In competition for the parcel of land is one of the most evil corporations to ever exist out of England: The East India Company.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/04/east-india-company-original-corporate-raiders

One of the former members of The East India Company, now haggling for his plot of land,  used to be in charge of a military regiment in which James was also a cadet, before he began acting strangely. Like Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, he had an exemplary career. He was the perfect soldier, until he had an attack of conscience, after finding out exactly  what he was working for. He spent the next two years whoring, drinking, attacking his own officers, and generally corrupting his brother cadets, until getting lost in Africa. I had the impression he was more haunted by his past actions, as a soldier for the East India Company, than anything that happened to him in Africa.

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The first episode is mostly spent in establishing exactly what James’ relationship is to various people. His sister is really his half sister, and they used to have an intimate relationship. It’s strongly suspected that she had a son by him, that neither of them  can acknowledge. James’ father went insane just before his return and embarrassed the family. James has his father’s body exhumed, by a Resurrectionist, and discovers his father was poisoned with arsenic. His sister’s husband hates him and is plotting his death because he stands in the way of the land inheritance, that he and his wife desperately need for the money. The English government desperately wants that plot of land as the British/ French/American war comes to a close, the land is strategically viable, and James refuses to sell it.

James appears to have superpowers, of some kind, as he keeps knowing stuff he’s not supposed to know, like his father dying. When one character says his father kept calling for him before he died, James says he knows because he heard him, which is creepy, no matter what he means by that phrase. Does he employ spies or is he psychic?  Everybody in the cast has secrets. Even their secrets have secrets and there’s just enough information parceled out to keep the viewer strung along.

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The cinematography is gorgeous. The skies are cloudy all the time, everything is dark and gloomy and covered in dirt, including the people, which is exactly how I like my stereotypes of Historical England. James wears a giant Beaver Hat for the entirety of the episode. Its almost like another character on the show. I wonder if the hat will get some lines of dialogue. he talks in a dark gravelly voice, sort of like a Victorian Batman, and everything is just dark, and grim, and darkgrim. Even that Mad Max movie had sunshine and people occasionally laughed at something. Nobody looks as if they’re enjoying themselves, but all this does is remind me that the past was waaay more horrible then the modern world, which actually makes me feel a little bit better.

So far, I’m in!

Oh, and here’s the review that sparked the rumor on Tumblr! (Out of all the possible reviews about this show!) I dont agree with a lot of it, and parts of the review were hilarious, but you can decide for yourself. Is the show racist? Is Tom Hardy?

TV Review: Tom Hardy’s ‘Taboo’ on FX

Critique Roundup

Here’s a selection of Pop Culture readings for the week of January 9th. Not all of these were written this month, or even this year. They’re just a selection of posts I’ve come across while researching my favorite topics.

*Tarantino Speaks Out: Police Brutality vs. Cinematic Violence

POSTED ON JAN 5 BY

 

*Horror Movies, Why We Love [Some of] Them

POSTED ON JAN 2 BY

 

*Here are some ads that make me irrationally angry

Amanda Rosenberg

*White Feminist Critiques of Rogue One and the Erasure of Race

*Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Where Are The Women Of Color?: On Marvel’s Problems With Race

Melanin Monroe

*The Dragnet Effect: How TV Has Obscured Police Brutality

In the most influential police procedural ever, even Joe Friday, America’s archetypal “good cop,” was blind to the problem.

CONOR FRIEDERSDORF

*What to do when you’re not the hero any more

BYLAURIE PENNY

Shadowhunters and Beyond

So, I watched the series called Beyond. I’ve only seen the pilot episode, even though the rest of the series is on Hulu. Here’s what I thought of the pilot:

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The lead character, Holden, lapses into a coma and wake up 12 years later. I was a little put out at the depiction of the coma, as it was one of those fairy-tale,  Hollywood type comas, where the victim becomes more and more lovely, as they sleep. When he wakes up its considered a miracle but at least they discuss how he didn’t have any muscular atrophy. The doctors still don’t know why he was in a coma, and frankly, I’m a little confused by it too, but maybe it was explained, and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. The doctors try to keep him in the hospital, but his mamma ain’t having that. She’s taking her boy home, where his room is exactly the way the family left it twelve years ago, which is really, really, sad.

He has a younger brother, who is now an adult and in college. We saw him talking to his younger brother at the top of the episode, saying he’d be right back, which we all know is a jinx, and you should never say that to anyone you love on TV, or in movies. I’m glad they show his brother still loves him, instead of the cliche of showing him to be an epic shit, and being mad at his brother for being in a coma. There are also some touchingly awkward scenes with him talking with his family around the dinner table, and showing how they coped with his absence. Its interesting that his Mom became super-religious, which I kinda liked because that’s the kind of thing a real-life person would do.

None of this is played for angst, and most of the characters react with genuine joy at his reappearance. The show is not especially heavy in the emotion department, which I kind of liked, although Holden rarely changes facial expressions anyway, mostly spending all of the episode looking deeply confused, which is understandable at losing twelve years of your life.

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There are a few moments where we are shown how the world has moved on without him since the nineties, like his confusion about the Apple Store and actual apples, or how his little brother knows how to drive and he doesn’t, but the show doesn’t dwell too much on this type of thing before the government assassins plot kicks in, and there’s all kinds of superpowers, mysterious women who know too much about him, and old friends who aren’t actually friends. The focus of the plot is his developing superpowers, the mystery of the coma, and  what the government wants with him, as its strongly implied that it was the government’s fault, along with the idea that he might not be human.

There are a lot of tropes and cliches, like the secret government agents stuff, and the token black friend, but its surprisingly not a bad show. Its not breaking any new ground, its not being edgy, or really doing anything that about a hundred other shows have done since the X-Files, but it is a very pretty show. The lead actor needs to have some acting lessons, but that’s true of any show involving very young actors, with people having conversations where they stare intensely into each other’s eyes and talk about the plot.

One detraction from the show is that the music is uniformly awful, which  is saying something coming from me, who likes  damn near any kind of music that has coherent sounds, while still managing to be picky about it. I mean, really, the music just was the worst kind of loud, obnoxious Emo-Rock, and I hope it calms down some for the rest of the series.

This series has an interesting introduction. The entire first season is available on Hulu and I’ll watch all of it at some point, but its also available on the FreeForm website (which used to be called the Family Network), and also showing on regular broadcast TV, one episode at a time. So the idea of releasing a series to multiple platforms is really whats revolutionary about this show, and I hope that technique is successful. If it is, then other shows will do this too, and people can choose the method of watching a show that best suits them, as not everyone can stream stuff, even if they do have the internet, and some people don’t want to have cable.

 

Shadowhunters:

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Yay!!!  I watched my first episode of Shadowhunters. Normally, the episodes would be aired on Hulu the day after, but I missed all of them. They had all expired by the time I remembered this piece of info. ,so I watched John Doe instead.

Since I came in in the middle of this, I’m not entirely sure whats going on. While one  of the Shadowhunters, Jace,  has been kidnapped and tortured by some bad guys, the rest of the cast, who are ostensibly the good guys, despite really bad body tattoos, spend the rest of the episode wondering what happened to him. This includes his friend, brother, cousin, (I’m not sure what,) named Alec, and Alec’s boyfriend, Magnus Bane, who is already a favorite of mine, because he’s played by Harry Shum Jr., and has some bitchin’ facial hair. I don’t think Magnus is a Shadowhunter because the other hunters kinda treat him indifferently, and he always looks like he wants to choke the shit out of one  of them.

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At any rate, I watched the entire episode and didn’t see too many shadows being hunted, but I wasn’t bored, so that’s a plus. I was fascinated by the acting, which isn’t bad, but like most such shows, isn’t Emmy winning. The plot isn’t especially deep either. It seemed more like a soap opera, than a paranormal fantasy series. This is one of those shows where people look wonderful, with luxurious hair, t dress in magnificently rich clothing, and stand around having earnest conversations with each other about their feelings. I didn’t mind that so much because it gave me a chance to get to know the character’s relationships a little better.

 

The series itself is based on some books I’ve never read, by the author Cassandra Clare, who writes Teen Paranormal books. The series of books is called The Mortal Instruments. I’m not a fan of Ms. Clare but the show is okay. Its got some nice representation, and like most of these types of shows its got a faintly sarcastic, cheesy flavor.  I blame Buffy the Vampire Slayer for that. I don’t know how close a resemblance the show has to the books either, but since I don’t actually like any of Ms. Clare’s books, the show is probably better. it certainly looks much more interesting than the books.

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I  wanted to watch this show because gifs for this series keep showing up on my Tumblr dash. The guys on here are  really cute, and it stars Harry Shum, and that black guy from those surreal Old Spice ads, Isaiah Mustapha, who plays a hard ass werewolf. You can tell that Magnus Bane, who is a sorcerer, is the edgy semi-villain because he wears lots of eye makeup and leather jackets. But I missed the part where Mustapha’s character, Lucien Grey,  turned into a wolf, because there wasn’t much of him in this episode, so I kinda felt that I wasted some of my time, but not all of it because Harry Shum tears it up as Bane.This show was perfect for evening viewing, as cuteness is about all I can handle in a show, right about now. Yeah, I will probably watch this next week. Its no rival to Westworld, or The Walking Dead, but its kinda fun and mostly inoffensive.

I did watch the new episode of Sherlock and I’ll get to that sometime next week, along with Emerald City, a show I was not intending to watch, but I think Florence Kasumba, (from Captain America: Civil War,) is in it, and I’m curious as to who she is, and what she’s doing.

State of the Onion:TV

Whoa! I’m very behind this week, but it’s okay, I’m not panicking, as I’ve gotten a lot of other things done  like charity work, and sometimes, sleep. I also have some holiday time to look forward to.  I sometimes have to remind myself that my  reviews won’t be obsolete just because I waited a week. Here’s a list of shows I’m actually paying attention to, some that I’m sort of paying attention to, and some that I’m not. At least one of these shows I’m  actively in hate of (and I bet you can guess which one.)

American Horror Story : Chapter 8


In last week’s episode, the killing continued with the deaths of Shelby and Dominic.  It turns out that Lee is still alive and in the clutches of the Polks. It’s no accident that Lee and the Polks are the main story this evening, and no accident that we’re seeing a middle class Black woman being consumed by these very working class (or below) White villains. There’s a message in there I’ll have to parse at a later date. Anyway, Lee manages to get free by seducing and manipulating one of the younger Polks, who has become attracted to her. Humanizing herself to the him was a good tactic, getting him to see her as a human being, rather than just meat, and this helped her to escape.

But before that, as he was filming her, she confessed in a video she wanted sent to her daughter, that she killed her husband Mason, because he threatened to take sole custody of their daughter. I was more than a little shocked at this revelation, as she swore up and down she didn’t do it, and that was part of her reason for coming back to the Haunted house, and being on the show. She kept filming because she wanted to control her own story, and I believed her. See what I mean about my complete inability to speculate about a show’s plot. 

In the meantime, Audrey and Monet are being tortured by the other Polks, but Monet manages to free herself. She runs off, leaving Audrey behind, but Audrey is saved by Lee, who kills Mama Polk during the event.  Back at the house, Shelby and Dominic are in a panic, after watching Agnes be killed by the Butcher, and they try escaping through the tunnels under the house, but get chased back through the house by all the entities that have come out during the Blood Moon. The Japanese ghosts, the Pig- headed Man, and the nurses stalk them through the house, and a chandelier falls on Shelby’s leg. 

Later, distraught at the fact that she killed her husband, Shelby, in a fit of grief, slits her throat,  while Dominic watches helplessly. When Audrey and Lee return to the house, Lee is horrified to discover Matt’s body in the basement, and Audrey is equally horrified to find Shelby’s body. Naturally, she makes it all about herself. Neither of them believe Dominic’s story of what happened, thinking that he killed everyone. They exile him to the non-existent mercy of the Ghosts, and the Pig Man kills him while he screams outside the door. I was kind of rooting for Shelby. I thought for sure she’d be a survivor. If not her then Lee. But since Monet is in the wind, it might turn out to be her, instead.

Audrey and Lee decide it’s time to go. They attempt to leave, but encounter a “fake” Pig Man at the front door. One of Sydneys assistants,who has no idea that nearly everyone is dead.  Now, they have to try to convince any of the crew left alive that all of these deaths happened, and that it’s too dangerous to stay. 

We’ve got about two more episodes left, so we know that the ending is going to be a bit drawn out. We won’t find out who lived, or if anyone lived, until the final episode, so I suppose we have more running and screaming to look forward to.

Supergirl:


 I’m still sort of watching this. I like the queer representation going on in the show. At least that’s different, as a lot of very popular shows don’t have any. I do wish there were more WoC on the show, though. (Why won’t Hollywood hire Latinas and Asians? Really it’s becoming extremely obvious that they’re being really weird about it?) The action is pretty good. The actress playing Supergirl starts to grow on you after a bit. I dont think I’m ever gonna really like her but she’s less annoying to me than before. 

The surprising break out character for me was Cat. I really thought I’d hate this character, and yes, she is an asshole, but I like how she stans for Kara, gives her good advice, and tolerates none of her flibberty nonsense, which is exactly the kind of female in Kara’s  life that she needs. Cat’s tough on her because she cares and knows she can do better, not just because she’s a mean ol’ witch, who likes yelling at people. I think her new male boss at the newspapaer is kinda the same way. He is a pusher, who doesn’t coddle her, but will back her up when needed.

 This week Kara got her first real news story published and  I was really happy for her. I caught myself smiling at my TV. I see why people like this show, as it has lots of positive moments,and sometimes some afterschool special life lessons, which are eyeballrolling for me, but good for people in general, I guess. I’m never against positive things just because they’re positive.

The show needs to work on its plotlines though, because every genre show, that has ever existed, has done a fight club episode, but I like how Kara makes a friendly overture to her cultural enemy at the end of the episode. It’s a nice message about being a mature, and tolerant  person.


The Flash:


I’m really starting to like this show, now. I know why I ignored it for so long. I didn’t have time to watch it.  Now, I just record it, and watch it later, because I’m not reviewing it. I see why people like it. The villains are interesting, it’s got good action scenes, and special effects, but most importantly, the relationships between the characters are compelling and most of them are positive. I like that the  characters actually talk to one another to solve their problems, rather than acting cold, snarky,and snappish to indicate their displeasure.Its easy to tell who the villains are, until you find out, through some mature insight and tolerance, that maybe they’re not the villain, which is kinda cool. In other words, people act like grown folks, most of the time.  This is much the same formula as Supergirl. I see what DC is trying to do here, trying o make all their shows seem like they happen in the same universe, by giving them the same flavor and formulas. 

This week Caitlin Snow was going through some angsty shit with her mom because she has developed superpowers. Apparently, this is something that’s going around, like a virus. I kinda got into it a bit because I kept yelling at the two of them for being such asshats to each other, after Caitlin’s father died. They both handled their grief badly, and then blamed each other for it. Barry raced around trying to find a holographic monster, but the emphasis was mostly on his relationship with his irritating co-worker, who doesn’t like him. Barry is one of those people who really needs to be liked, and that’s an interesting character trait for a superhero to have, as he spends a lot of time brokering peace between squabbling individuals.

I love Iris, Joe, and Wally, and I’m glad Iris isn’t just some lone Black woman,  floating in a sea of Whiteness, although I do wish there was more of a community of Black people on the show, sort of like how Agents of Shield centers Robbie Reyes’ life around his community. He hangs with, and knows, people in his neighborhood, you see him and his brother out and about, and people know the two them.  It’s not that I want The Flash to be all Black people, all the time, but one of the problems we run into when White people write PoC, is that the PoC never seem to come from a community of people similar to them. They don’t have extended families, or other Black people that know them. All it takes is a throwaway line here and there, or a few phone calls back home, to indicate they live in a wider world, of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Then I remember that the vast majority of white people don’t ever see us in our communities. Their personal encounters with us usually involve one or two Black people, who are just sort of floating through their life, without family or friends attached, so White people tend to reproduce that exact same narrative when they write PoC, especially Latinos, and Asians. (Y’all know there no such thing as a lone Latinx. You know they got fam.)

I’m still not sure how to feel about it when Joe calls Iris and Barry his kids, and I’m reminded that Iris and Barry grew up in the same house. That feels a little weird to me, although since the two of them are completely unrelated, I can find no objection, other than me feeling odd about it.

Agents of Shield:


I’m totally geeking out over the Ghost Rider storyline. I’ve only just started watching the show this season after a disastrous first. I see why people love Daisy, as I’m starting to really like her. When the show started, the only character I could regularly stand was May. Melinda May has always been my best girl and and I hope Robbie becomes a more permanent member of Shield, even though Melinda would like to kick his ass. I love his relationship with his brother (family is important to me, too) and I was on the edge of my seat when he revealed what he was to  Gabriel, this week. I was completely whiteknuckling that scene. 

I love how television presents more nuanced versions of teenagers, probably because the writers are younger.  Movies usually settle for the cliched, sullen, whining, and utterly selfish, teen. I’ve never met any teenagers like that. All the ones I’ve met, as an adult, have been fascinating, with interesting things to say, once you get them talking. I think that cliche says more about how the writers think about teenagers, than how teenagers actually are, and I love the way Gabriel is written, on the show, as he reminds me of teenagers I’ve actually met. He obviously loves his brother, and is generally positive around Robbie, probably as a way of anchoring him, and alleviating Robbie’s guilt, over what happened to them. See? That’s how you write a teenager. 

I could do without the persecuted mutants,  X-Men/Inhumans style storyline, though. I’m really tired of racial allegories, at this point, so I haven’t been paying a lick of attention to that part of the plot. I’ve been mostly enjoying the special effects, the characters relationships, and just not thinking too deeply about the plot line.

What?! I’m waay too old and tired to get  heavily worked up about the plot of every single show I’m watching. 

Channel Zero:

I stopped watching this. I tried picking it back up, and watching it again, but my mind just wasn’t into it. I don’t think I’m in the right mindset for the kind of ominous, slow burner, type of show like this. I just end up falling asleep on them.

From Dusk Til Dawn:


This show has really gotten back to the basics this season. It’s been a lot of fun, with a plot just heavy enough to be interesting, and compelling, without being too intricate and boring. I love it that the Gecko brothers are fighting side by side this season, so we’re getting a lot of brotherly lovehate, hatelove. And yeah, they literally are fighting side by side, as the action scenes are the best part of this season. I don’t care for the villain too much. But at least she found a goal this week, of putting her real body back together, so that she can open he gates of Hell, or something. At the beginning of the season, she seemed kind of purposeless. Its cliched, but I love this Gecko Brothers save the world stuff.

 The show seems to have found its groove, with just the right mix of zaniness, and seriousness. The addition of Tom Savini, as a demon hunter from Xibalba, seems to have added just the right element of crazy to the storyline. I’ll be sure to give you guys the lowdown on whether or not this season’s finale is any good. It’s coming up soon.

The Strain:


I know there’s a contingent of twenty somethings on Tumblr, that seemingly hate all of Pop Culture, and I don’t wanna be that person. Even if they don’t hate it, they seemingly find little to like about it, and I’m just not like that. I try to be positive on here, and mostly lightweight, and informative. I also  grew up having no choice but to try to mine what goodness I could out of Pop Culture, and to appreciate that it was being made at all.

I suppose its a good thing that we have so much television geekery to choose from, that we can afford to be picky and contentious, to make demands that suit us. Since I was a geekgirl before the internet, and there was precious little to choose from, I’m just not where they are mentally, so it can be hard for me to relate to their many, many, many, concerns. But am I really that different from them?

I think that if this show had been on the air twenty, or thirty years ago, I would think it was the absolute shit. But I guess I can afford to talk smack about this show, because there’s so much else to choose from and the stuff I can choose to watch is so much better than this, that I can get snarky about it. Also I just like making fun of the show. It hones my snark skills.

Now I have heard that season four is this show’s last season, and that the shortening of the season to only ten episodes has  tightened its plot, somewhat. So that’s not an issue. My issue is character motivations that are really just plot points and don’t seem to derive from actual characterization. People simply do what it’s convenient in the plot for them to do, and I do like some character consistency, even when I have to do the headcanons myself. Also the acting on this show is really dodgy. It’s gotten to the point where I just hate Zack whenever I see him. He is, arguably, a worse actor than that little boy from the Phatom Menace, and that’s saying something.

Normally, I’d just ignore shows like this, but I had a lot of  hopes for it, and I’ve been very disappointed. The show just aired the last episode of its third season, and every moment I watched it, I found some new fuckery to be pissed off about, including its final moments. On the other hand, I don’t need to be raising my blood pressure over a TV show. If it is the last season, next year, I’m going to have to give considerable thought to watching, or ignoring it, based on whatever else is airing at that time. We’ll see.

 

Legends of Tomorrow:


I’ve  come across people who inexplcaby hate this show. I don’t find that the show is weighty enough to spend that level of energy on. This is really the lightest of lightweight shows, that’s not trying to be anything more than what it claims to be, which is fun entertainment, with occasional positive messages. The substance of this show is as ephemeral, and calorie-free, as cotton candy, and  I love it just for that reason. It’s got pretty people, kicking ass, and cracking jokes. I can sit and enjoy the characters interacting with each other, the plot’s not deep enough to give me angst, and they just added another of my favorite characters to the crew, Vixen. She is awesome! I love how they show her superpowers, too.

Last week’s episode was some lightweight fluff about some of the crew getting trapped in Feudal Japan. The plot was silly and didn’t make one ounce of sense, but I enjoyed it anyway, because apparently,  I’ll watch damn near anything,  if it’s set in Feudal Japan.

This week was a little heavier with Jackson and Maya visiting the Civil War era. Jackson makes the point to the Professor that there’s no moment in American history where he would’ve fit in, when he suggests that Jackson stay on the ship, to avoid the trauma.  At one point Jackson and Maya have to stand and watch a slave woman be whipped, and are utterly helpless to stop it, or they would jeopardize all of history, and they have to sneak onto a plantation disguised as slaves, and Jackson gets beaten by a bully. I think  the show handled this as sensitively as it possibly could considering it’s on the CW. I suppose the writers could’ve chickened out and avoided this era entirely as they have all of history to choose from , but it’s okay. The show doesn’t usually get this heavy.  

Here’s another show with yet another male/male friendship that I adore. I love how the writers have built on the relationship between Martin and Jackson, the two characters who make up the superhero Firestorm. Martin genuinely cares about Jackson’s feelings, and Jackson seems to be learning some valuable life skills from the old gentleman. These two guys couldn’t be anymore different in lifestyle and outlook, and I like how the writers took an intitially antagonistic relationship, in that first season, (Jackson resented having to share a Firestorm with Martin), and transformed it into an actual, caring, friendship between the two.  I’ve been a Firestorm fan since I was a kid and I’m glad the show has decided to go with the black version of this character, as I remember reading those books. 

There were also Confederate zombies, so…make of that what you will. There are very few eras of history that cannot be made more interesting with the addition of Romero style zombies.

Plus, Vixen was on the show! She’s also going to be on the show this Thursday and…get this! probably the following Thursday, too! Whoop whoop!

The Exorcist:

Yeah, I just stopped watching this. I’m not too good with shows about possession, I guess. The shows either get too heavy, too religious, or I get bored with all the ponderous omens, and actors whispering in dark corners. I stopped watching Outcast on Cinemax for the same reason.  I think its because these types of shows are trying too hard to be scary, or trying too hard to be the second coming of The Omen from 1972. In this case this show is trying really hard to recreate that ominous feeling of the original movie, and as I’ve stated before, I’d rather just watch the original movie.

“American Horror Story 6: Chapter 7

Wow! Last night’s episode was a total massacre! Literally!!!

Last episode, we found out that everyone involved in the making of The Return to My Roanoke Nightmare died during the Blood Moon. And with the death of Rory, (Audrey’s much younger husband),  killed by the nurses, to complete the lettering in their favorite word, (MURDER), we were off to the races.

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When everyone goes upstairs to investigate where Rory has gone, they find a pool of blood, with no body. When Rory gets killed, Sydney, his assistant and cameraman are taken down by Crazy Agnes. I didn’t name her, that’s what the show’s  writers named her, and since I disagree with calling homicidal people crazy, and ableism in general, I’m only calling her Agnes from this time forward. Agnes kills the entire film crew with some kind of hatchet, or cleaver, then goes to the Roanoke house and attacks Shelby. But not before Shelby kills Matt while Dominic just stands and watches.

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Shelby is saved, from Agnes,  by Dominic, who wrestles Agnes into submission but doesn’t kill her. Earlier that evening Dominic spent  time trying to talk his way back under Shelby’s skirts, (or yoga pants in her case) but had no luck. Shelby is dedicated to reconciling with her ex-husband.

Even though Matt beat Dominic’s ass earlier that evening, he catches this  little episode between the two of them, and tells Dominic to go ahead and tap that because he doesn’t want her. Dominic thinks this is hilarious.

There’s not one of these people that is remotely  likable. Shelby is indecisive and sends mixed messages to everyone. She ‘s a total flake. Matt has no personality at all. Dominic, Audrey, and Monet are just jerks. Agnes is the world’s worst cosplayer, while Lee is the world’s worst TV cop.

Agnes cuts the phone lines to the house, and the film crew are all dead, so no one can call for help. (Remember everyone’s cellphones were taken, and Diana, Sydney’s first assistant died in a car crash.)

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So characterization is just thrown completely out the window, while characters react to the batshitness that’s happening to them. Although everyone does go from not believing any of it is happening, and thinking Sydney is punking them, to using those stupid little cameras he gave them to film their horrific deaths for posterity.  Everybody films everything. One of the strangest moments is when Audrey films Agnes trying to kill her.

Matt is killed by Shelby. I didn’t see this coming but  he really pissed her off.   When Shelby finds him in flagrante with the Celtic witch, he claims he’s in love with her, and Shelby beats him to death with a tire iron.  Here she is turning down awesome sexual escapades with Dominic (C’mon, you just know he’s a dynamo in the bedroom!) for this fool, only for him to turn around and say he’s in love with the creature responsible for killing everyone. Since Matt never had much character to begin with this isn’t exactly the most surprising event.

I have to note,the show is especially graphic this episode. I don’t imagine those of you with delicate sensibilities have even gotten this far into the season, or are even watching the show, but I’m giving the warning anyway. I’m not a fan of torture porn. I always end up covering my eyes during  especially brutal moments, which means there’s a lot of this episode I didn’t see.I’m just here for the aftermath.

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Lee, Monet, and Audrey sneak out of the house, via the underground tunnels, to go get help for Shelby, who is suffering from Agnes’ knife wound. They bring their cameras along. They  end up being  attacked by ghosts, find Rory’s body, and are then captured by the Polks, who are out in full stench this evening, because hey! Blood Moon!  Whooowhee!!! In a moment of surreal humor, they season Lee’s leg and chop it off.

 

Yeah see, this is what is meant by White people not being able to cook. You don’t season a haunch before its removed from its host. Really people! Who seasons a chicken leg before cutting it off the chicken? Although, I guess its a good thing that they remembered to use seasoning at all. (It looked like it might’ve been sage, since it was green.) After wards, they force feed the leg jerky to Monet and Audrey. I don’t know where the rest of Lee is, or even if she’s still alive.

In an ironic twist, Agnes gets cleavered by The Butcher, as Shelby and Dominic watch, with horror, from the windows.

There’s really not much plot to this episode. It mostly consisted of illuminating the circumstances in which everybody dies, and filming it all while it happens.

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So far, Lee, (until we see otherwise), Monet, and Audrey are still among the living. So are Shelby and Dominic. I expect more character revelations to come out of left field, or even a new plot twist, in the next episode.

If you’re wondering why I’m so flippant about the blood and torture during this episode, after watching the Polks season Lee’s leg, it finally completely dawned on me that this is a kind of Horror mockumentary, like those Christopher Guest films, Best in Show, Mascots, (which is hilarious and on Netflix right now), and This is Spinal Tap. I’m not good with humor that hasn’t been spelled out to me, so while I suspected the show was meant to be funny, I wasn’t certain.

My mind tends to have a more literal bent, so unless its clearly spelled out to me that what I’m watching is meant to be funny, I probably won’t see it. Its  not that I don’t have a sense of humor. It just needs to be switched on.  Like a child, my sense of humor isn’t particularly subtle, either. (I get subtle humor, but you have to tell me its subtle first.) So those of you who caught on that this was a parody of Blair Witch shaky-cam, moviemaking styles, I am here right now. (I may be late to the party, but I made it.)

For further, in-depth ideas, read:

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/effective-american-horror-story-roanoke-turns-subt-244901

I loved this review. It tackles racial issues that were implied at the start of the series, and issues pertaining to privacy and filmmaking. This particular post had me rooting for Lee to be the last survivor. 

The Final Girls (2015)

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Normally, I plan my Horror movie reviews,  for October, well in advance of Halloween, but this one surprised me. I’d never heard of it until a few days ago. I originally confused this movie with another movie about serial killers, with the same title, called Final Girl, which was released the same year. Final Girl is also a comedy but the two movies are very different.

The Final Girls is a rather broad parody of serial killer movies from the eighties, with all their various tropes, specifically the  Friday the 13th movies, and  the movie Sleepaway Camp. There’s also some elements of the Scream  movies. Some modern day teenagers get trapped in an eighties horror movie and have to try to survive to the end of it. To that end, they use their knowledge of horror movies, in general ,and the specific horror movie they’ve landed in, to try to navigate their way through the movie. Nothing goes as planned.

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About 25 years ago, Max’s actress mother, Amanda, starred in a horror movie called Camp Bloodbath, and can’t seem to live it down, as she’s having difficulty finding other roles. After one such audition, Max and Amanda are involved in a car crash and Amanda’s mother dies. Three years later, Max is still grieving for her, but has some new friends, and a crush on a guy named Chris.

All of them get invited to a special screening of her mother’s old movie and its new sequel, Camp Bloodbath II. When the theater catches fire, Max, Chris, her best friend Gertie, a bitchy girl named Vicki, and Gertie’s stepbrother, Duncan,  try to escape the fire by tearing their way through the movie screen, only to find themselves stuck in the movie. Duncan is an expert on serial killer movies and Camp Bloodbath specifically. One of the funniest moments is them sitting by the side of the road, trying to figure out where they are, and if they are indeed, in a movie.

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In a moment of prime surreality, Max meets her actress mother, years before she became her Mom, as the nice girl stereotype named Nancy. Max spends the rest of the movie trying  to save Amanda’s life, even though on some level she knows these aren’t real people. Its a bittersweet moment, as you can tell that seeing her mother alive and well again is having a real effect on Max. She tries to advise and guide her without telling her that she’s Amanda’s  unborn daughter.

The Camp counselors consist of the usual throwaway characters including a randy horndog, named Kurt, who everyone thinks is disgusting, except for the girls in the Bloodbath movie. There’s Tina, the camp sexpot, and the actual Final Girl of Camp Bloodbath, Paula. The Black guy of course, is killed almost immediately. Since one of the rules of serial killer movies is that whoever has sex dies, the  modern crew spend most of the movie trying to keep what characters they can from having sex. After Duncan gets killed, they learn that their own lives are fodder for the killer, named Billy.

Billy is played as a straight killer, in the mold of Jason rather than Freddie, with much the same backstory.  We learn this when the modern day teens get caught in a flashback, within the movie, in the movie (and believe they’ve gone colorblind.) Billy  doesn’t crack jokes, or cackle menacingly. He’s actually pretty terrifying, really, which just makes the movie funnier, as no one takes him as seriously as they should with Duncan deciding he wants a selfie with him.

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One of the funniest moments, for me, is when they put Tina in restraints, kitchen mitts, and extra clothing to keep her from having sex or taking her clothes off. Tina, who is best classified as a very dim bulb, doesn’t understand any of it. Bless her heart! At one point, Vicki tries to explain  that her cellphone is actually a  phone, and Tina just laughs at her.

When Paula gets killed, they decide to take matters into their own hands. Without Paula to be the Final Girl,  they elect Max as the only virgin. Her job is to kill Billy just like in the original film. Killing Billy is probably the only way they can escape the movie. So they lure Billy to the camp by using Tina as bait, by allowing her to take off her clothes, and booby trapping the entire house. During Billy’s siege of the camp, most of the other characters get killed. Only Chris, Nancy and Max escape, and Chris is wounded, when Billy kidnaps Nancy.

Max is desperate to save Nancy and goes after her . She manages to free Nancy but is wounded in the attempt. In order for there to be a Final Girl, one of the girls must die, though. Nancy sacrifices herself but not before Max confesses to her that she is the movie counterpart to her late mother. Now, as the Final Girl, Max has the superpowers to defeat Billy. After killing him with his own machete, she wakes up in the hospital to find all her friends are alive again, but unfortunately, they are all now  stuck in the sequel.

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I had a lot of fun watching this movie. I loved the dialogue, the sight gags, all of it. I especially liked the character’s relationships with each other. Normally these types of movies are full of people you are hoping will be killed, but with the exception of Kurt, who is kinda “rapey”, and thereby disgusting, most of them are sweet, but not too bright. Even the modern characters, while snarky, are not actually mean, and some of them even make fun of which stereotypes they are, with Vicki making cracks about being the “mean girl”. I laughed the hardest at some of the throwaway lines the modern teens lobbed at the movie teens, who were too dim to understand.

I especially liked Max’s relationship with Nancy. The two of them spend some amount of time bonding, and you can see all of Max’s grief and longing, when she talks to Nancy, while  trying not to reveal who she is.  Nancy asks her, a couple of times, why she cares about her so much, and Max stutters to come up with a reason for why she’s attached herself to this girl. I like that the women aren’t just sexy floor lamps. They affect the plot as much as they can, considering their circumstances, and manage to contribute a lot of one-liners to the discussion. The movie teens have no idea how funny they are. They play it completely straight, while the modern teens are deliberately snarky, because they can’t believe the situation they’re in.

 

There are several girls in the movie and they all  talk to each other, support each other when they can, and are largely non-judgmental about one another. For example, no one considers Tina’s cat-in-heat behavior, to be at all remarkable. They just take it in stride that she’s gonna try to hump anything that moves, and/or take her clothes off. They try to stop that because it attracts Billy, not because they judge her as being bad.

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The modern teens are surprisingly intelligent, and some of the funniest moments is watching them come up with a plans to defeat the movie they’re trapped in, but it doesn’t matter because, according to the laws of teen killer movies, there can be only one survivor, so everyone keeps having horrible accidents, as the movie attempts to correct itself.

This strongly reminded me of the movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, as it has much of the same kind of silly, slapstick humor.  The kind of humor that’s  not predicated on people being bitchy or unlikable. As an example, I give you Grizzly Park, which is a movie about a bear, hunting and killing teenagers, at a summer camp. The people in that movie, are quite possibly some of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever watched  in a movie, and at some point, I wished all of them would hurry up and be mauled by the bear, so the movie could end. I watched that movie with my Mom, an old veteran of these kinds of movies, and even she cheered for the bear.

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And it was very refreshing to watch a movie made in 2015, where you care about the people being killed. Ordinarily, the killer seems to be the focus of any  movies made after Scream, and you root for  him, or the people he’s killing are so annoying that you pray for their deaths. And its also quite a contrast to movies made in the 80’s, where the teens seemed to like each other. Teens were annoying in the movies back then, and the movies were deeply sexist, but the teens weren’t bad people, and I didn’t spend the movie wishing for them to die.

Since I saw this on a family oriented network, I can assume its mostly safe for teens, but not for little kids under a certain age maybe, as there is a certain amount of gore, language, and sexual situations.

This movie was a surprise like for me, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, and I’m adding it to my comedy/ horror list, along with Tucker and Dale, Shaun of the Dead , and The Addam’s Family.

Train to Busan (2016)

I was wowed by this movie. This is one of the best zombie movies Ive seen all year. If you like The Walking dead and the Dawn of the Dead remake, you will like this movie. Once it gets started, and it gets started almost right away, it doesn’t let up til the end.

Now lets get this out of the way. The movie contains fast zombies. They run,  twitch, growl and scream. So if you don’t like fast zombies, or hated 28 Days later, you can probably skip this. It also has a young child, and teenagers, who are constantly in danger. If you have trouble watching that sort of thing (sometimes I do) then  I’m going to suggest skipping this, or watching this with a great deal of caution.

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This is a harrowing movie, and every bit the movie that World War Z should have been, with some great setpieces. I got so attached to these characters, so fast, and spent several breathless moments wishing for their safety. Its been a while since I’ve been scared during a zombie movie, but this one is very effective. The zombies sense by sight, so there are more than a few suspenseful moments when the train passes through long tunnels,  and it gets dark enough the zombies can’t sense the passengers, who find several ingenious ways to get past them in the train cars, like crawling above them along the luggage racks. You have to see this movie for the passengers as much as the zombie action.

Seon-Woo is a busy manager, who doesn’t seem to have much time for his daughter, so decides to take her to see her mother in Busan. During their trip by train, there’s a zombie breakout, the train is quickly overcome and Seon and his daughter spend most of the movie fighting their way through the train, off that train, onto another train, escaping a crashed train. Basically, its trains all the way there.

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Seon is accompanied on this harrowing expedition by several people including a tough workman named Sang-hwa, a character I totally fell in love with, and his very pregnant wife,  an elder businessman, who is a complete asshole because every zombie movie has to have at least one, a homeless man who followed the other passengers  when they got off the train, and attached himself to Seon and his daughter, and the teenage members of a baseball team. Yes, they get to use their bats during a crucial scene.

I really enjoyed the message and characterizations in this movie. Earlier in the movie Seon had an opportunity to help Sang, and didn’t. Later Seon gets called on his behavior by his daughter, who questions why they aren’t helping others, and  that’s not nice. When Sang meets up with Seon, he continues to give him shit for what he did to him and his wife, needling him for his selfishness.

Seon becomes more selfless as the movie progresses. The parallel with the villainous businessman is not lost on the viewer. In the beginning Seon’s focus is more on saving himself and his daughter, but he comes to care for others besides himself. This is not true of the selfish businessman, who is really just kind of a  cartoon villain. He throws people to their deaths, leaves others behind to be eaten, and at one point, he screams a rant at a teenage girl, and  gets the other train passengers to turn on Seon, and his little crew of survivors.

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The movie is filled with touching moments of bravery and sacrifice. I rooted for Sang through most of the movie and wished he’d been the focus of the film, as Seon is a rather bland character, but that was the point, I think. Sang is brave and selfless from the moment we see him,  fighting the zombies hand to hand to save the life of his wife, unborn child, and other passengers. At one point using his own body as a break against the zombies invading one of the train cars.

Seon  has the greatest character arc, though. The kind of man who has nothing but contempt for the homeless, at one point, goes out of his way to save that man’s life, he fights side by side with Sang, goaded by Sang’s needling of his selfish behavior, when they first met, and goes toe to toe with the villainous businessman. Along the way his goal becomes making his daughter proud of him.

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The only problem is that in the world of the zombie,  none of this selflessness comes without a price, and selfishness doesn’t pay off too well, either. One of the most tearful moments was when a teenage boy gets bitten, and instead of leaving him, his girlfriend chooses to stay by his side, as he dies. She knows that when he turns, she’ll die, but she makes that sacrifice because she doesn’t want him to die alone, and he was bitten while saving her life.There’s a similar scene in the Dawn of the Dead remake, but in that movie, its much less effective. What starts as a train full of people finally gets whittled down to the villain, Sang’s pregnant wife, Seon, and Seon’s daughter.

The action is fast and frenetic, and the only quiet moments are at the beginning of the movie, or when the zombies get quiet, but that’s not much consolation because the tension  just ratchets up during those moments. I can’t list all the great moments in this movie.

Now, its a zombie movie so there’s plenty of gore, and if you have anxiety issues, you may want to watch this in bits and pieces because it doesn’t ease up very much. It clocks in at two hours but its so fast paced that it just doesn’t feel that long.

I’m fully prepared to call this the best zombie movie of 2016, and its definitely going on my favorites list. This is an excellent choice for a Halloween Zombie marathon.