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.