Review : Bright

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“Set in a world where mystical creatures live side by side with humans. A human cop is forced to work with an Orc to find a weapon everyone is prepared to kill for.”

This has been a huge year for Netflix, and one of there big projects was the movie Bright. A decently large budget movie, with some big name talent in front and behind the camera, and more hope from Netflix to become serious players in the movie business. So is Bright the answer to that question? Not really, but it shows a lot of promise. Bright as a concept, is really good and really exciting. Bright as executed however, isn’t all sunshine and magic wands. To start with, the two leads here in Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are both perfectly cast, and excellent in their roles. Joel does a great job of acting through his make up, still delivering an honest performance that made him seem extremely natural as an actual orc. We also see here why for a decade or so, Will Smith was the biggest blockbuster movie actor that money could buy, because he has an effortless way of being funny, entertaining and charismatic when needed, but while also having the range to give us the feels when thats needed. The rest of the cast here are also very solid and its nice to see their commitment to their roles. That being said, the characters is a good place to get into some of the issues. A lot of the characters feel real and lived in here, but many of them seem to have strong motivations that we don’t get to see develop, or where they really stem from. This can make some of the characters seem caricaturish, which is compounded upon by some of the script dialogue here. Thats not to say this is a bad script, its definitely not bad, and maybe a lot of the dialogue here is ad-libbed, but a lot of it comes off as something someone told a person to say, rather than what that person would actually say. This movie really and truly, is a lot of promise, and not a lot of pay off. They build an entire world here for us and these characters, but they only have so much time to delve into it, and that leaves a lot of interesting information on the sidelines and surplus to requirements. If this was a series, I feel like it could genuinely fulfil that promise, but as is, Bright is a great fantasy cross over movie in theory and concept, but just a fun watch it at home for “free” type of movie (which isn’t what Netflix is paying for this movie to be).

Review Score : 6 out of 10

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Wrap Up : The Punisher

When you think about The Punisher, you probably think about a gun toting, skull vest wearing, everyone killing, shootemup action type movie or series….what we got however, is so much more. We have now gotten the full compliment of Marvel Netflix character series, and the one thing they all have in common, is that when they work best, they work because they go the route of character study. And thats what The Punisher is, its a 13 episode character study, on Frank Castle, and what it takes to forge such a man. This series accomplishes this, by giving us multiple characters that are pulled from the same crucible, and giving them time and space to see how each reacts, and why. If what you wanted from The Punisher was 13 hours of full auto weapons and head shots, go watch Punisher War Zone like 6 times in a row. If you just like really good content, keep reading.

The Punisher is a real thoughtful series (never thought I’d say that), and its one of the series I think actually benefitted from the 13 episode run, unlike some that should have been cut to 8 or 10. This full 13 hours also gives the time these characters need to become fully developed, and thats really the thing that makes this so good. Both Frank, and other characters like Micro are given time to develop, but more importantly, the villains (yes plural) are given just as much time to be fully fleshed out and allow them to have meaningful motivation and an actually dangerous skillset. All of this means we really care about what happens to who and when. There are some characters here that I don’t really care for, but the show did definitely do a great job of having those characters grow on me, so even if I still didn’t like them by the end, I at least had some more respect for them and their motivations.

There is action here though, I mean there had to be, and its the kind of real and gritty, hands in the mud kind of action I wanted and expected. Frank is just a man of course, and its nice that even though he might be better than his foes, he still is only capable of the things a human can do, and he’s made to bleed. There are some scenes further down the series that I can describe only as “graphic”, so if thats an issue, just be on the look out. This series also does really really well to give the punisher his own little world, and the rules of that world make sense and things happen as a result of other things in a way that also makes sense. That does make the punisher feel at least like the most insulated of the Marvel Netflix shows, and we do get some cross over character work, but really only because of previous character building from Daredevil season 2. Its nice that they didn’t force more cross over, but it would have been nice to have some more nods maybe to the larger Netlfix universe this series finds itself in.

The Punisher is definitely not what I expected it to be. To get all these themes that come with war and being a soldier and ptsd and the works, wrapped so nicely and intricately around a comic book character is really a nice surprise. Jon Bernthal gives us such a layered, damaged and complex character that he will definitely become the embodiment of what people expect from this character going forward. His supporting cast does a great job here also, and I’m sure much praise has to go the writing of this show, for giving these characters so much room to grow, and the time to do it. I think I would rank The Punisher currently as my second favourite of all the Marvel Netflix shows, and I can’t wait to hear about season 2.

Wrap Up : Stranger Things 2

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Success sometimes, isn’t the best thing for movies and TV shows. Especially when that success, comes out of nowhere, and becomes huge, massive success. Thats what happened to season one of Stranger Things. That success means a few different things. One, it makes the expectations of season two that much more inflated. Two, many times more success means more people who want to able to claim some of that success and quality which adds more cooks to the kitchen. Three, everyone expects any sequel to be bigger and better than before. And four, you usually don’t have as much time to create as you did before. Most if not all of these things I’m sure were a part of the creation of Stranger Things season two, that ┬ábeing said though, this season of Stranger Things definitely comes out swinging a nail filled bat of quality.

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Everything about ST2 that needed to be bumped up, has been, and everywhere that should have been kept smaller and more tight knit, has also been. Thats the real success of season two. Things pick up right where they left off, even though this takes places about year after the events of season one, it honestly feels like we never left these characters. The entire gangs back, plus some new faces that are expertly woven into this sci-fi, adventure tapestry. The story picks up like I said one year after season one, and meets our party trying to live a normal life after the life changing events of a year before. And at first, all does seem well, and we don’t have to wait long before we get our first look at fan favorite 11, as many fans were worried we might have to wait a long time to see her return.

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Then things start to get, well, strange. New comers Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin, and Sadie Sink are all welcomed to the cast, and they all have sizable roles. Then just like season one, ST2 does an amazing job of setting up its narrative, and setting all of its characters on a collision course to its ultimate end. This all isn’t to say also that this season is safe, as it does make some bold decisions, and sticks to them for better or worse. One of the things that worked best about season one, was the team, and when the team was together on screen. ST2 takes a typical trope of team up movies, and breaks up the team for the majority of the narrative, only to bring them back for the finale. It actually takes many common tropes of the genre ( sci-fi, adventure, 80s, horror), and twists them around on themselves to allow for much more character development than would usually come from said tropes. Some of the best characters on the show are actually the ones that start out as much less likable, but that allows for them to have the most growth.

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ST2 also benefits from a clearly, and sizably increased budget, and it definitely shows on screen. From episode one straight on, we get to reap the fruits of that increased budget, and it just allows for the elevation of the material. I do have some minor gripes as with most things, but they really are mostly just personal issues, and they don’t at all pull down the material, or the show itself. After season one I had really high expectations for this season, and of the creators, the Duffer brothers, who write and direct most all of season one and two. I also was, and am continually impressed with the level acting from the entire cast here, especially the younger actors who prove again they are no one hit wonders. All in all, Stranger Things season 2 is a wonderful return to form for the Duffer brothers, the cast, the crew, and everyone involved. I think it reaches most of the heights of the season one, and it most definitely eclipses season one in terms of the spectacle here, and the quality of acting and directing doesn’t let off ever. It might not have made me cry like season one, but it had me on the edge of seat for sure, and its worth the watch and the binge (just clear 9 hours and get it out in a one).

Wrap Up : American Vandal

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When you hear the name “American Vandal”, the first thing you think of is probably some gritty new movie or series, or maybe even a series about a true crime story that needed telling….you don’t probably think about a “mockumentary” style take on one of those aforementioned series. That is however, just what American Vandal is, its a satirical take on documentary-serieses yes, but it doesn’t deprive itself of the same level of drama, with a narrative that twists and turns across all 8 of its episodes. It leaves no stone unturned, it leaves no thread unpulled, and it doesn’t miss any details.

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This series on a whole shines across all boards. The writing to start with is absolutely excellent. It pays so much attention to detail, with every hint and bit of information it releases over time. Even details as small and simple as the credits in the intro being the names of the characters because they are making this faux documentary-series shows the kind of attention to detail the writing shows from start to the very end. Each of the characters is given a deep, thoughtful, and totally believable back story and story line, which gives the characters enough weight to have you invested in them, and where they each stand in the narrative.

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The acting here is also spectacular. Not only are the roles incredibly cast in their age and diversity, but because the series takes itself and its character seriously, the actors themselves are given so much to work it, and are allowed to play out the roles in a full dramatic fashion. This series is both hilarious and emotional, and it can be both these things without trying to be either because it is simply portraying real life, and people with real lives. You believe everyone of these characters, and what they are going through at all times, and while the writing gives these actors a great base, their acting itself was needed to make and maintain that emotional connection.

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All in all, American Vandal is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time, and one of those shows where I feel like many people would over look the quality of things like the writing and production here. If you have any free time at all, give this series a watch. It only about 4 and a half hours total, and makes a great binge.

Review : What Happened to Monday

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“In a world where families are limited to one child due to overpopulation, a set of identical septuplets must avoid being put to a long sleep by the government and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.”

Honestly, I feel like all i have to say to sell this movie, is Orphan Black + Children of Men. And while it isn’t exactly as good as either, it comes pretty close in the ways that matter, especially for what I think is a budget thats lower than we might expect. Noomi Rapace plays the titular roles here, stress on plural, as she portrays 7 different sisters Orphan Black style, and she does her very best to imbue each with their own personality and style. The plot itself here is sometimes pretty transparent, but even then it still does a good job at being suspenseful and it brings some surprising action. There are some plot issues here yes, and some inconsistencies, but I think if you go into the movie the way I did, without much of any expectations, those issues don’t kill the fun and entertainment that this movie definitely can deliver. Noomi is also the best part here acting wise, thought the rest of the cast still does a good enough job, but none of them are given the same amount to work with as Rapace. All in all, What Happened to Monday is a genuinely entertaining sci-fi, action movie, and is another notch on the Netflix movie belt. Its not at the level of some of their other movies (like Beasts of No Nation), but its definitely worthy of being one of its movies to fill out its new roster.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Wrap Up : The Defenders

Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, all lead up this cross over small screen event. So how was it? Well its a bit of a mixed bag. Lets start with the pros, and I think there are maybe equal pros and cons here. To start, this show lives and dies on these four characters, and these characters are the reason we watch their individual series, and why now, we’ve watched this crossover. Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, is still clear and away the best of these characters, both in Cox’s portrayal of him and the material he his given to work with. He also is saddled with the best supporting cast, and their acting is always on display when they are on screen with other characters. These characters however do all allow for one of the other biggest pros of the series, and thats being able to see the way all the side and main characters overlap, which plots a real nice web across all of the shows. That overlap does give a feeling of accomplishment also for seeing all the series and knowing all the players.

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There are also some notable inclusions to cast here, with the likes of Sigourney Weaver who comes on to play the role of the main antagonist for the defenders series. She is definitely good here, and her character has and serves a very definite and distinctive arch, but it also feels very much like an extended cameo, than it does a fully fleshed out character that lived in that world. There is also some solid action set pieces here, and when they are done well, they are executed very well, and allow the characters to flex their muscles. It also has to be said, that an 8 episode run is a much better formula (only the Daredevils seasons in my opinion benefit from 13 episodes, all the others to some degree get hurt from the longer 13 episode run). 8 episodes allows for a much more focused storyline, and even though we have all these characters, and so much to connect, if this were 13 episodes I can’t help but think that in trying to add 5 more hours we would lose a lot of the momentum this show has.

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There are however, some negatives here. The first to put it plainly, is the Iron Fist character. Now I’m not talking about the actor here, because while he does add to the portrayal, he is also restricted by the way the character is written, and I think that writing is the real issue here. His character always seems like he’s not in the same world as these other characters, and his character always seems at odds with the others, but in from a character stand point. The main storyline of the series also leans on his character and his methodology heavily, and that means he has a big role here, and when he’s charged with leading the line its just not as good as with the others. There are some other characters also who, while not bad, just aren’t given enough to do to truly be memorable and make a lasting impression on this defenders universe. While like I said earlier there are some great action set pieces here, there are also some sloppy ones. Sloppy not just in their choreography and acting, but also in there setting, use of the characters, and a lack of imagination.

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One of the biggest issues however, and seemingly one of the easier problems to fix, is the budget. So I can’t really find a budget for the defenders, I know the individual series come in around the 40 million per season budget, but whatever the budget is for this series, its either not enough, or its going in all the wrong places. There were so many times during episodes, where I would have to wonder to myself if certain plot points and plot devices were done solely out of a lack of funds and a need to make things as cheap as possible. Wether it would be a lack of fire power from certain villains, to a lack of set diversity, there were so many points where I felt like money had to be an issue. Now I don’t know if something like the lack of certain things from Iron Fist are from a budget point of view, or a writing point of view (de-powering his character to make him fit this universe better), but it definitely comes off as more of an issue than really making his character fit better. Even something as simple as the ending, when the door is unlocked, I was expecting and hoping for something to visually illustrate the difference more than just a dragon skeleton. All of those things just wreak of a small budget to me, and thats something that I in this day and age, with whats meant to be event television like this, just think shouldn’t be such an issue. And like I said before, I don’t know if the issue was a lack of funds, of a misuse of them, but either way I think that was one of the biggest issues this show had to overcome.

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All in all, I think while The Defenders is a mixed bag, I definitely think its worth watching for a few reasons. If you’ve already invested in the other series that lead up to this, you kind of have to watch it, even if for closure, but mostly because one of the things it does best, is line up the future storylines of those individual shows when they each return in future seasons. Its also an easier investment being only 8 episodes, and its a good binge if you need one. (And no their not going to re-cast Iron Fist or anything like that so just either don’t watch his show or don’t watch this if you really can’t stand him, but who knows, maybe one day instead of Iron Fist and Luke Cage series we will get a Heroes for Hire series featuring a bionic arm Misty Knight?!)

Trailer of the Week!

This week is a special week. Usually I go through all the trailers for the week and find the one I think does the best at selling a movie and a concept. This week however is also the week of Comic Con, and with that, we got a whole lot of them, so this week I’m giving you guys a top three of the week. Enjoy!

3 – Kingsman : The Golden Circle (Trailer #2)

2 – Blade Runner 2049 (Trailer #2)

1 – Bright (Tailer #1)

What we have here, are three very different trailers, but also very similar. All three of these movies are slated for later in the year and they all have pretty big expectations. Starting with the newest trailer for Kingsman 2, we get a lot more of the story line here, and a considerable amount of action which makes one wonder just how much can they pack into this sequel. Adding a secondary group of heroes, the Statesmen of America, allows the movie to add another level in it casting, and it does so handily with some big names as well as fan favourites. This trailer shows that the movie doesn’t plan on losing any of its signature style, while ratcheting everything about up to an 11.

Then at the number 2 spot, we have another sequel, this one however, considerably longer in the making. The newest trailer for Blade Runner 2049, like the Kingsman trailer, gives us a much better look at the storyline the movie itself will be taking us on. Erie, tense, suspenseful and gripping, this trailer seeks to give us a tease of what the entire movie is likely to be like in terms of tone and scope, while also teasing out some of the newer characters and their motivations.

Finally we come to bright, the only movie here that doesn’t have a huge planned theatrical release as its another in the ever growing stable of Netflix made and made for movies. Featuring the likes of Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (under some heavy makeup), bright is the latest from the mind of Max Landis and directed by Fury’s David Ayer, the movie gives us a look at a super realistic take on the idea of a world filled with goblins and ghouls, fairies and elves, and all manner of magical creatures. This first feature trailer also like the trailers before it, gives us a very good idea of where this movie plans to go, and it will be something to see if all the parts that make up this movie can come together and give us a great movie in the end.

There are some other great trailers that dropped this week, but I only went with three here, as these three left a large impression on me, but I will give a shoutout to the new trailer for The Shape of Water, and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Both excellent and intriguing trailers that I’m sure we will see come back on here soon enough.