Mini-Reviews #22

Another entry in my list of short opinions on things that I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks and months and find notable.

Film

Happy Death Day
‘Groundhog Day’ meets ‘Halloween’ describes it quite good. A horror/slasher comedy that works most of the time
War Dogs
From from rags to (illegal) riches, hollywood-ified version of a true story — kind of OK, but absolutely nothing special.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I’m not a Harry Potter fan (I think I ever saw one movie in the whole franchise), and this one did not change it either.
Apostle
Bad, bad, not good at all. Netflix just can’t pick movies.
The Equalizer 2
Worse than the first one. Very dull first half, incoherent and boring plotlines, and a rather bland final act.
The Predator (2018)
Terrible. Even Predators was way better than this trainwreck. The idea to match Shane Black’s humor with the Predator premise might have sounded cool on paper, but totally didn’t work here.
American Gangster [Rewatch]
A well made gangster movie.
Django Unchained [Rewatch]
If you like Quentin Tarantino, you’ll like also this one.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 + Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [Rewatch]
Parts of it are fun, as expected from a Quentin Tarantino film. But as a whole, I found it too long and lacking in character development or story depth; especially in Vol. 1, which is essentially just a string of cool looking action scenes.
The Three Stooges (2012)
Oh well, a not-so-funny slapstick comedy.
Venom
As bad as feared, yet not worse — if that makes any sense…
Fist Fight
A couple of funny scenes (trailer material), but beside that: Forgettable.
Wet Hot American Summer
Not really my kind of humor.
Anchorman + Anchorman 2
Not really my kind of humor.
He Never Died
What an odd little movie. I like it, but can’t really explain why: Low budget, almost none of the action is shown, the plot also is not very exciting, the pace is slow, the supporting cast is rather mediocre at best — but Henry Rollins is just perfect!
Smokey and the Bandit [Rewatch]
When I was I child, and only few TV stations existed here, these kind of 1970s US action comedies were played all the time. I never paid much attention then, but now viewing them again, first time in english (thanks, Netflix), I’m positively surprised how well it has aged, even the humor. Yes, you do notice that it’s a 40+ year old movie occasionally, but it’s actually just a distinction.
Aquaman
Not so bad… — I mean for a superhero movie in the DC universe. Obviously, you have to endure and accept a lot (a looot) of CGI overkill and nonsensical plot, but that comes with the territory (again: a DC superhero movie…).
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
It’s the sixth entry in the franchise and it’s not showing any sign of fatigue. At least considering the action, suspense, humor and actors. Unfortunately, in all entries of this series, there are a lot of illogical developments, lucky coincidences and so on to drive the story forward. Oh well, just try to ignore it and enjoy the ride.
The Girl With All The Gifts
Catched by accident on TV: Very low budget and the story doesn’t really save it either.
Overlord
I expected zany “Wolfenstein 3D” kind of silly action and humor, but it was (to my surprise) played mostly as a straight World-War-II actioner with a slight supernatural inclination. Also, pretty good production value for such a small film. Not great, but quite OK.
Train To Busan
Korean Zombie film — interesting experience (with the ususal Zombie plot points, but also a good cast and characterization).
The Cloverfield Paradox
Uh, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad! Again, Netflix seems to simply suck at picking its movies.
Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado
A sequel that was not really needed and lacks the female star from part one. And like part one, a rather downbeat film, so you better be in the right mood while watching this.
Dredd (2012) [Rewatch]
Not quite as entertaining as I had it remembered. Also very one-note: Running around and shooting (bad) people.
XX
Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad!
The Matrix + The Matrix Reloaded + The Matrix Revolutions [Rewatch]
Haven’t seen these in ages. Part one still holds up (effects, story, acting), but part two and three are sadly considerable letdowns.

TV

Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Season 1, 2, 3 and 4
I’m usually not an avid follower of sitcoms (although there are some exceptions…), but (a) binge watching on Netflix makes it easy and (b) this show is simply very funny.
Recommended!
Happy! — Season 1
Interesting premise, but relied too much on shock value and it ran for too long (and thus out of steam). In this case, maybe a movie would have been the better choice.
Star Trek: Enterprise — Season 1, 2 and 3

Almost 18 years after the initial run, I’m now watching Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT) for the first time.

Back in the days, I was indeed a Trekkie/Trekker (not hardcore, but a very big fan). But after catching up with TOS, watching TNG and DS9 from start to end during its run in my childhood and teenage years, I was pretty much burnt out on it.

I began with VOY, but only lasted one season then.
When ENT came around, I maybe watched one or two episodes, but in general, my Trek days lay dormant for the next decade from there on (excluding the new movies, which of course were disappointing to me).

Last year, after a long hiatus, Star Trek was back on “TV” (well, “Streaming-TV”) with Discovery (DIS) — and as I wrote here before, with an awful first season (worse than any other first season in my opinion). But, it did rekindle my interest again. And after subscribing to Netflix (yeah, I’m late), I was delighted to see that all the Trek series were available! So, I started at the very beginning of the universe’s timeline: With Enterprise.

Season 1 starts interesting: Mankinds first steps into space; using new, unproven technology; having first contacts; etc. — so far, so good.

Season 2 falls back in re-using a lot of generic Trek tropes, recycling ideas that were already done (better) in other shows of this franchise, mission of the week episodes and also the technology seems to suddenly been improved very much: Still less beaming than usual, but the universal translator is, well translating universally, etc. But OK, I understand that, otherwise the plots would drag on endlessly (Hoshi: “Give me a week to learn this language, then maybe we can hail them…”).

Unfortunately, the the focus is still less on the cast as an ensemble, but focuses mostly on just the 2-3 main characters.
So far, so average; a slight turn to the worse in general.

(By the way, regarding “mission of the week episodes”: It’s kind of weird, since I haven’t seen many procedural TV shows in the last decade or so, because most of the new interesting new stuff nowadays is (predominantly) serial, with a defined story arc; even Trek now, with DIS…)

Season 3 was supposedly (from what I read) the big game changer for this show, that would improve everything. Well, no, not for me.
While I liked the idea behind it (a more serial form, with continuation between episodes, actions causing effects for future episodes and the focus on more characterization), the execution was terrible: The Temporal Cold War storyline was crap, the Xindi threat was not well done, lots of questionable character stuff (especially Archer and Phlox and Vulcans in general). So, this season was even worse than the one before.

Let’s wait and see what the 4th and final season will bring…

A Series of Unfortunate Events — Season 3

The final season, and again a treat. (Albeit, looking back: The structure of many episodes—in all 3 seasons—is very, very similar. But thankfully, the characters and dialogs could override any ill feelings regardings this issue.)

Marvel’s The Punisher — Season 2

Very disappointing. Of course, for a 13 episode season, one expects more personal stuff (and maybe even filler episodes) than in a 90min action flick. But this here didn’t work, at all; like season 1. Too boring, too flat.

The Umbrella Academy — Season 1

Hm, that was OK… mostly…

Love, Death & Robots — Season 1

Now this is an entertaining anthology series of 18 short (6-17 minutes) and very distinct episodes. Of course, some stories are better than the other, but in general, all of them have a very high quality, their own style & voice and interesting premises. Highly recommended!

Z Nation — Season 1, 2, 3 and 4

To be honest, I did not watch all of it: Many episodes were (partially) skipped or fast forwarded by me. Because it is campy trash, and not in a very good way. Good enough that I wanted to follow it, but not good (bad?) enough to endure every single minute of it. What’s most suprising: It’s advertised as a low-budget zombie… satire/comedy/something-with-humor. And yes, it’s ‘funny’ in a low campy trash kind of way, but I believe I did not once laugh, giggle or even smirk. For me, it’s just a less dramatic, less realistic take on the Walking Dead.

Vikings — Season 5

It’s the fith season, and I still like it. Waiting for more to come…