Saturday, November 9, 2019

Movie Review - Last Christmas

I really like Christmas films as a genre, but there are a lot of bad ones mixed in amongst the good and mediocre. Sometimes the Christmas spirit is enough to make a mediocre film enjoyable, and sometimes nothing can save a film.

Last Christmas is a 2019 romantic Christmas film based on an 80s song. It is rated PG-13 for language and adult situations and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Twist. This film has a very interesting twist that you almost never see in this kind of film. It was a nice surprise, but one I guessed about 20 minutes before the big reveal.

The Bad


Pacing. This film is a little slow and drags in places.

Likability. The characters in the film aren't all that likable, especially the main heroine who makes many bad choices that alienates nearly everyone in her life. It's hard to feel sympathetic for her or root for her.

Political Message. At the end of the movie they shoe horn in a lesbian relationship that isn't even hinted at before and does nothing to advance the plot or add to the story. It isn't even very long and feels like an afterthought.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the characters had been more likable and the comedy funnier.

Overall


Last Christmas is an entertaining movie with an interesting twist that was unexpected in this kind of movie. But the unlikable characters and slow pacing will keep this from becoming a classic. And the shoehorned political message at the very end felt very forced and had nothing to do with the rest of the movie, nor did it affect the story except to slow it down. I give this film 3.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

 

Friday, November 8, 2019

TV Show Review - Cobra Kai Season 2


I loved the first season of Cobra Kai, and could barely wait for the next. But would it live up to my expectations  

Cobra Kai Season 2 is an 10-episode 2019 YouTube Originals series based on The Karate Kid film and continuing the story three decades later. It is rated TV-14 for language and is appropriate for tweens and up.



The Good


Story. The story continues right where the first season ended and introduces several great new elements while continuing the stories already begun in the first season. The writing is just as good.

Action.
 This season offers one of the best fight scenes in cinematic history at the end of the season and beginning of a new school year.

Pacing. The story is paced just right. It never drags and is never rushed.



Contrast. This series does an excellent job of showing the contrast between 80s culture and 2018 culture and how far society as regressed and how weak and cruel modern youth have become. It is really fascinating from both a social perspective and an entertainment one.

Cliffhanger. This series ends with several cliffhangers, only one we know how it will be resolved.


The Bad


...



What I Would Like to Have Seen


More episodes!



Overall


Cobra Kai Season 2 continues to be one of the best shows I've ever seen. It continues the story of The Karate Kid in a perfectly logical, relevant way being true to the original but brining in so many new elements that all fit. The pacing is perfect with each character given the appropriate amount of time to see his or her story progress and interact with the others. There is a lot of drama, conflict, and misunderstanding along with great action, comedy, and romance. This season introduces several new elements that fit into the existing storyline perfectly and sets up the third season in a big way. I highly recommend this show and give it 5 out of 5 remotes.



      

 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Movie Review - The Grudge (2004 film)

I don't watch a lot of horror movies, because they tend to be more gore than spine-tingling terror. But a few years ago I saw one that was everything a horror flick should be.

The Grudge is a 2004 supernatural horror film based on a 2002 Japanese film of the same name. It is rated PG-13 and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Acting. Sarah Michelle Gellar is one of the greatest actresses ever, and she doesn't disappoint in this film. She really conveys the proper emotions at the proper times. And the actress who plays the ghost is incredible. You'd think she was an actual spectre.

Terror. This movie is truly terrifying without resorting to gore, Nazi death camps, or other overused devices. This movie creates so much terror with just a little music, great production design, and brilliant cinematography.

The Bad


Story & Pacing. This film doesn't have a lot of story which makes it feel long and a little slow. It's a brilliant experiment in filmmaking, but not so brilliant in the entertainment department.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish there had been more story. Developing Jason Behr's character and his story would have helped.

Overall


The Grudge is a a terrifying supernatural horror film that does so much with so little. The filmmakers are able to generate real terror in the viewer without resorting to gore, Nazi death camps, or other overused devices. Instead it relies on just a little music, great production design, and brilliant cinematography. Sarah Michelle Gellar is brilliant in this. The story is a little thin with other characters being underdeveloped which makes the movie feel a little long and slow. If you're looking for a film that is terror without the gore, I recommend this one and give it 3.5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


  

 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Movie Review - Metropolis (2001 film)

Back in the day, Suncoast (and it's associated stores) had a membership program. A short-lived part of this program was a monthly magazine promoting the latest media. One month they featured a movie I had never heard of and knew nothing about, but I was intrigued.

Metropolis is a 2001 Japanese science fiction anime film based on the Fritz Lang film of the same name and the manga by Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga. It is rated PG-13 and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Visuals. This movie is so beautiful. Every frame is a masterpiece you could hang on your wall. It was an early experiment to mix traditionally hand-drawn characters with digital cgi backgrounds that worked better than any other attempt. The filmmakers actually went in and recolored the rendered 3D with traditional colors to give it such a natural look. And the Blu-ray really makes the visuals shine.

Music. This movie has great music that fits the unique modern/retro look and feel. It's jazzy and fun.

Characters. This movie has a lot of characters, many of them very flat and undeveloped. But the few main characters they do develop are fleshed out so well and their interactions are so natural and human. When they get it right, they really get it right.

Overall Story. Overall this film has a great story with several separate but connected plots going on that all connect and add to the message of the movie. Unfortunately, the actual telling of the story is a bit garbled.

World. This film creates a wondrous world filled with so many amazing buildings and people and conflict and intrigue. It is a lot of fun just to admire the world and explore it with the main characters.

The Bad


Story Development and Pacing. This movie has story problems with certain important plots underdeveloped and other less important ones labored over. The pacing is good in parts, too quick in others, and too slow in others.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish they had developed certain parts of the story more and ignored some of the stranger parts that felt like side trips.

Overall


Metropolis (2001 film) is a breath-taking visual feast with the perfect marriage between hand drawn animation and computer-generated backgrounds. Almost every frame is a masterpiece you could hang on your wall. The overall story is great with several separate but connected plots going on that all converge and add to the message of the movie. Unfortunately, the actual telling of the story is a bit garbled. When the character development is done right, it is masterfully done creating characters with such depth and humanity you can't help but love them. But many other important characters serve little purpose beyond being plot devices. The music is unique and fits the mood and vibe perfectly. I highly recommend this film and give it 4 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie Review - The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Recently a friend suggested I review horror movies for the Halloween season, and I thought that was a good idea. I'm not much of a horror movie fan (although I love horror TV shows for some reason) but there are a few I thought were well worth watching.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German Expressionist silent horror film. It is unrated and is appropriate for teens and up.

The Good


Visuals. This movie is gorgeous to look at from the sets to the costumes to the cinematography to the title cards. It has such a strong artistic look and sense that has been borrowed and copied by numerous artists and filmmakers ever since.

Terror. Even though this movie is nearly 100 years old and silent, it is truly terrifying. The antagonist of the film, Cesare, is so creepy and so terrifying that he made me jump more than once.

Mood. This film has such a strong mood created by great organ music, impressive acting by the actors and actresses, and of course the visionary production design.

The Bad


Ending. The studio forced the director to change the ending to a strange "it was all a dream" nonsense. While it doesn't ruin the film, it does take away some of the punch.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


....

Overall


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a brilliant and disturbing horror film from the silent era. It is one of the most gorgeously shot films from the brilliant sets that defy physics to the costumes to the amazing cinematography to the creepy title cards. This movie is so terrifying, and it accomplishes it without the gore or profanity of modern horror films--just solid storytelling and acting. I highly recommend this film and give it 5 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


    

 

Friday, October 18, 2019

TV Show Review - Cobra Kai Season 1


I loved the original The Karate Kid movie, so I was both excited and horrified at the idea of a continuation. Excited because I wanted more Karate Kid action, horrified because of how poorly the remakes of it and other 80s properties had been handled. 

Cobra Kai Season 1 is an 10-episode 2018 YouTube Originals series based on The Karate Kid film and continuing the story three decades later. It is rated TV-14 for language and is appropriate for tweens and up.



The Good


Story. This series has such a great story. It is perfectly paced and focuses on each character letting their story be told and their character be developed.

Action.
 While there's not enough martial arts action, when there is karate, it is pretty exciting and a lot of fun.

Pacing. The story is paced just right. It never drags and is never rushed.



Contrast. This series does an excellent job of showing the contrast between 80s culture and 2018 culture and how far society as regressed and how weak and cruel modern youth have become. It is really fascinating from both a social perspective and an entertainment one.


The Bad


Romantic Development. Most of the movie is developed just right, but the relationship between Johnny's student and Daniel's daughter is rushed a little too much. A couple more episodes would have fixed that.



What I Would Like to Have Seen


More episodes!



Overall


Cobra Kai Season 1 is one of the best shows I've ever seen. It continues the story of The Karate Kid in a perfectly logical, relevant way being true to the original but brining in so many new elements that all fit. The pacing is perfect with each character given the appropriate amount of time to see his or her story progress and interact with the others. There is a lot of drama, conflict, and misunderstanding along with great action, comedy, and romance. And the subtext of the difference between 80s culture and 2018 culture and how far society has regressed in three decades is brilliant! I highly recommend this show and give it 5 out of 5 remotes.



      

 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Movie Review - The Addams Family (2019 film)

I first heard of the Addams Family when I watch reruns of the old black and white TV series. I really enjoyed the kookie dark nature of it, and it had a killer theme song. Later I discovered the original gag cartoons it was based on and really enjoyed the line work.

The Addams Family is a 2019 cgi comedy film featuring gag comic characters created by Charles Addams. It is rated PG and is appropriate for all ages.

The Good


Visuals. From the character designs to the production design, this film looks really nice. It's faithful to the original comics while being very contemporary.

Story. The story was pretty good and well paced. All of the twists were obvious as was the ending, but there was enough charm and cleverness that that was okay.

Cleverness. The filmmakers spent some time thinking up some clever gags and charming twists to put into the film that make it fun.

The Bad


Heavy Handedness. The message of this movie is so heavy handed. There is even a song in the middle that literally spells out the message. People are not that stupid, not even little children. The filmmakers need to give the audience some credit.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


More cleverness and less preaching.

Overall


The Addams Family (2019 film) is a clever and fun film. From the character designs to the production design, this film looks really nice. It's faithful to the original comics while being very contemporary. The story was pretty good and well paced. All of the twists were obvious as was the ending, but there was enough charm and cleverness that that was okay. What wasn't okay was the heavy-handed message that different is good. They literally have a song in the middle that spells it out multiple times. The audience is not that stupid--not even the 5 year olds. Have a little faith in your audience, filmmakers. I give this film 4 out of 5 Boxes of Popcorn.


   

 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Review - Relic (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Sales on Audible are a great chance to try out new books and new authors without risking too much. I've both found some new favorites from this and lost precious hours from my life I will never get back. But how else are you going to discover new gems?

Relic (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child is a science fiction monster thriller. It is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good


Twist. This book is about a monster that is loose in a museum, and the authorities have to both get everyone out and subdue the beast. The twist comes in the nature of the beast and the revelations at the end. They are worth reading thru to the end for.

Pendergast. It's funny this character is the name of the series, because he plays such a minor role in the story and has less page time than the main characters. And yet he is the most interesting character somehow.

The Bad


Pacing. This book moves slowly. The pacing isn't so slow the reader becomes bored, but it does take effort to pay attention to the story.

Characters. The characters are really bland and formulaic. They read like copies of common characters I've read before with nothing new added and the execution of the characters not as well done.

Story. The story is good but nothing special.

What I Would Like to Have Seen


I wish the authors had put as much thought into the story and characters as they did the twist, because THAT would be an incredible book I couldn't put down.

Overall


Relic (Pendergast, Book 1) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child has a really great twist and take on the science fiction monster genre, but isn't as strong in the interesting characters, intriguing story, or exciting action departments. The story is a little slow throughout, even during the "intense" action scenes. None of the characters are all that memorable or elicit much of a reaction as they are fairly common stereotypes with fairly common motivations and character arcs. The saving grace is the twist on the monster and epilogue where the repercussions are explored. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.