Recent movies

Spring: This was great. Finally someone understands that Manic Pixie Dream Girl movies are actually horror movies. Without spoiling anything, it's not a vampire movie, but let's say it's adjacent. Call it Before Sunrise but with monsters. Lots of great squamous practical effects. The ending pissed me off though: "You're going to give up ____ for that dumbass?"

Batman Vs Two-Face: It's a Batman cartoon with the voices of Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar and William Shatner. They really got the band back together for this one.... buuuuuut... it just kind of feels like a not-very-funny episode of Archer. Which may be more of an indictment of Archer than of this? But still, not great.

Kingsman The Golden Circle: This was absolutely despicable. I mean, I knew it was going to be bad, but wow. Besides being a cut-rate Bond full of hurr-durr cowboy and dick jokes, it also had a scene where the two fratboy spies have to compete over who can finger-bang a girl at Burning Man first, because that's the only way they can... get a tracker in her vagina? Was this written by ten year old boys? Very, very stupid ten year old boys?

Mother: I think this movie is nine hours long and I gave up around hour four. I don't even know what it was about, but it felt like someone yelling at me the whole time.

Mother Krampus: It's just a slasher movie. It's not even about Krampus.

Neon Maniacs: Somehow I had never seen this, even though it's set in San Francisco. I wasn't missing anything.

The Pact: This was a pretty solid ghost story, with an ending that I didn't guess. Worthwhile.

The Pact II: The sequel isn't terrible, but it didn't really hold up.

Rare Exports: Naked Santa Monster. Several people recommended this but it's slow and boring and terrible.

Raw: This is pretty great, and really creepy. What I have learned from horror movies is this: med students are fucked up and not to be trusted.

The Blackcoat's Daughter: It's nice and moody, but I've already forgotten what the big twist ending was. It's pretty but very slow and there's not a lot to care about.

Replace: Vampires really need to moisturize, you know? Not bad.

Happy Death Day: I'm actually totally ok with there being a lot of remakes of Groundhog Day; I think there's still plenty of room to play around with that structure. But this one, while not bad, is basically the same movie as Before I Fall but with less likable characters.

The Transfiguration: This is the sort of feel-good, happy-go-lucky vampire movie that Let The Right One In was. It's slow, and creepy, and I'm not sure if I actually liked it. But it wasn't a bad movie.

Rupture: The trailer gives away too much, but this isn't bad. It reminds me a bit of the Cube movies in its maze-y clinical mad-science weirdness.

Last Days In The Desert: Ewan McGregor trolls himself. I enjoyed it a lot more by convincing myself that he was playing Obi-Wan instead of Jesus.

Bright: I would have had some vicious things to say about this terrible remake of Alien Nation, but Lindsay Ellis said it all first: Bright: The Apotheosis of Lazy Worldbuilding. How's this for hatewatching: I hated this movie so much that I sat there and watched Lindsay complain about it for 45 minutes! And I enjoyed that more than the movie itself. Which was only 2 hours long. Just a taste:

"...ergo it follows that the Atlantic slave trade existed in the Bright universe, Also Shrek exists, meaning that Jeffrey Katzenberg exists and the Disney company exists, and it made its bread and butter from fairy tales, which are just normal tales in this universe, but ok. [...] The Alamo exists? Were there Orcs there too? Was there chattel slavery of Orcs too, and that's why Orcs all seem to have European white surnames? Was The Alamo a bigger deal in this universe? Because Mexican-Americans get shit for all kinds of things, but The Alamo is not one of them. What were the nine races? Were Mexicans one of the nine races? [...] And people say they're interested in the worldbuilding of Bright but but but... there isn't any!

"Los Angeles exists. Meaning a Franciscan mission settlement was built in the 18th century, meaning the Catholic Church maintained its dominion over Spain, meaning the War of Nine Races, a thing that is so big a deal that two thousand years after the fact it warrants graffiti, was not such a big deal that Emperor Constantine couldn't make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century!"

Cloverfield Paradox: After the third time that I fell asleep within 15 minutes of starting this movie, I stopped trying. I guess maybe it wanted to be Event Horizon? Which was also awful. But even in the parts I stayed awake for, I kept having to back up and look at the exterior shots of the space station, because Double-You Tee Fuck. Apparently someone got the memo that to make gravity, you spin things like a wheel, but then "down" seemed to go along the axis? And hey, why have the wheels on the same axis, that would be just needlessly simple, and let's... have the wheels attach to the rest of the ship at the edge instead of the center? How would that even work? I did not stick around to find out.

Batman Gotham By Gaslight: Does what it says on the can. Booooring. No fun.

Murder On The Orient Express: covered here. Covered like a facial corset.

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women: The allegedly-true story of the creators of Wonder Woman. I really enjoyed this. I don't know how close to the truth it is, but it's a very cute movie about some kinky weirdos in the 40s.

The Man From Earth: Holocene: I loved this! A lot. It's about an immortal, trying to avoid being found out, which is a lot harder as time goes by. The original is really great, and this is an excellent sequel to it. Also, before the movie begins there's a clip of the writer/director saying, "Hey, we uploaded this movie to the Internet ourselves, so if you like it, how about you send us some money." I've always been fond of the "pay what you think it's worth" approach, especially since it's so much easier to make that judgement after the fact. So I did, and you should too.

Alpha Gateway: There was an interesting parallel-worlds movie in here trying to get out, but why did I have to sit through an hour and a half of "abusive husband movie" to get to it?

Hellraiser 10: Judgment: When I tell you that this was not bad for a Hellraiser movie, you need to understand that I'm a bit punch-drunk about the whole series, having watched and reviewed all nine of them a few years back. I may not be trustworthy on this topic. There might be some Stockholm syndrome going on. So yeah, it's not bad. It has a very strong beginning, where the story and set design look like Rob Zombie's Kafka's The Trial, which I was totally down for. But after that it settles into a cop movie and... actually it turns out to be basically a remake of Hellraiser 5: Inferno. Except this time with more Christian mythology thrown in, to which I object in the strongest possible terms. But -- very strong opening. Worthy opening.

Tragedy Girls: I guess it wants to be Heathers, if all you took from Heathers was "edgy, cute teens murder people". Or maybe it's more like Scream if Scream was not a mystery and just told the whole story linearly from the point of view of the killers. I enjoyed it while watching it, but the more I thought about it afterward, especially in light of the upcoming trainwreck of that Heathers TV show, the more I thought, "Why did you make this?"

Mute: This was pretty good. Well acted and with some very disturbing villains. I enjoyed it (though not as much as Moon.) But one thing that puzzled me about it was, why was this a science fiction movie at all? The futuristic setting has basically no bearing on the plot. So that was just kind of distracting.


Future Man: Another time travel show! It's dumb and scatological and in the first scene -- when the commandos from the future show up to recruit the guy who just beat a video game -- he says, "But that's the plot of The Last Starfighter." It's very, very stupid and pretty funny.

Dark: Another time travel show! I loved it. People compare this to Stranger Things, and if all you take from it is that part of it is set in the 80s and it rains a lot, then I guess so? But one salient difference is that Stranger Things is nostalgia-trafficking crap and Dark has a really interesting story in it, though it takes a while to make sense. A couple of warnings: First, watch it subtitled instead of dubbed, the English voice actors are terrible. Second, you're going to spend a lot of time being confused about who's who, specifically "is that kid a younger version of that adult?" and this is actually by design.

Travelers: Another time travel show! I was lukewarm on season 1, but season 2 is much better. They introduce a Big Bad who is interesting and makes sense.

Black Mirror: Wow, Season 4 is the best yet. There have been a number of earlier episodes in this series with convenient strawmen, where a lot of it doesn't make a lot of sense in hindsight, but this season works really well. The one where a woman is hunted by Big Dog, in black and white and almost entirely without dialog, is especially creepy.

Santa Clarita Diet: Serial Mom, the series? It's dumb and funny. And, you know, the best zombie show on the air right now.

Runaways: I gave up on this about halfway through the season. I read the comic years ago, and I barely remember it (and don't remember it being especially good) but the one thing I do recall is that, in issue 1, the kids realize, "Oh, our parents are cultist serial killers. See ya! We're gone." And then you basically never see the parents again. But for sone reason, this show, after establishing that the parents are all cultist serial killers, try to make half the show be about the parents, like in the 90210 formula. I'm sorry, those people are prolific murderers, why should I care about their mortgages or that their marriage is on the rocks? Also the girl who is supposed to be the "young" one looks 16, and I guess she's supposed to be playing like a 12 year old? But whoever is writing the script thinks she's 8. It's terrible.

The Gifted: I expected to hate this. It's a "family on the run" drama, and it's reminiscent of Heroes and full of clichés, but it's actually not so bad. And Coby Bell is great as the fed. I really liked him in Burn Notice.

Happy!: It had its moments; Patton Oswalt was great as Drop Dead Fred. But mostly it's kind of obvious, and not that great.

Altered Carbon: covered earlier.

The Good Place: I love this show. A lot of my friends do not. Like, "You have to turn this off right now, this is torturing me" do not. A good rule of thumb seems to be whether you were able to tolerate Parks and Recreation. Anyway I think it's hilarious and creative, and season 2 completely flips the plot in a great way.

Star Trek Discovery: This is really fantastic. It's now my favorite Star Trek series after Stargate: Universe. (And yeah, I'm going to keep making that joke until everyone has watched Universe.)

Falling Water: I enjoyed season 1 because it was just so abstract and weird, but now that they've explained what's going on and let you in on the mythology it's a lot less interesting. Now they're just hunting Freddy Kruger.

The Magicians: Still absolutely loving everything about this show. Everything.

Incidentally, can someone find me a torrent of The Lure that does not have burned-in English subtitles?


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Altered Carbon

I didn't think much of this series, but I do have a few things to say about it...

First of all, the Raven Hotel was awesome, a great sidekick, and the best character in the story. And also the only character I was even slightly sympathetic toward. I want to watch a show that is just about Overly Attached Hotel Boyfriend. Maybe with Oswald Cobblepot as the bartender. (I understand that in the book, the hotel was Hendrix instead of Poe. That sounds dumb.)

So that was my favorite part. Moving on:

(And by the way, I never read the book, because from the way people talked about it I assumed it was going to be to Neuromancer what Sword of Shannara was to Lord of the Rings. So I'm not comparing the two.)

Ok, so you've been asleep for three hundred years, you wake up, and literally the only thing that has changed is that you need to update your ad blocker settings!

Now, I can imagine how, in this world, maybe the fact that there are a hundred immortal billionaires who control the world while everyone else lives in poverty might have had the effect of completely halting all advancement in technology, and even all changes in fashion. But if that's the case then that's what your story is about and you need to at least address it!

Come on!

Next, the way they do "prison" in this story didn't make sense when they did it in Demolition Man and it doesn't make sense here. You've sentenced a killer to hundreds of years in jail, but for them no subjective time passes! There are only two things prison can nominally be for: punishment or rehabilitation. This is neither. It's not even exile, because remember, the people who put him in prison are immortal.

Also this was not eight episodes of story. So much padding. Almost the entire last episode could have been cut. Guys, if you only have four hours of story, that's ok.

Dichen Lachman is great, but I still didn't give a crap about her character, and the "big reveal" of who the villain was had no mystery to it. They set up the show as a detective story or a mystery and then there was no detecting, or mystery.

A trenchcoat is not a detective.

Graphic design is not worldbuilding.

Then they popped a Max Headroom cameo on us. Ok, ok, yes, I was all-in on that. You showed me the thing and I recognized the thing. I am not immune to nostalgia.

But then!

Instead of streaming it from Netflix, I downloaded torrents of this show, and one of the side-effects of that is that my only option for subtitles was all-or-nothing: the files I had didn't have a track for "only subtitle the scenes that are not in English", of which there are quite a few. So I ended up watching it with subtitles on all the time (which I always find distracting and annoying, because I read ahead of the voices). And that resulted in this...

There's a big dumb cyber-ninja fight scene, and the music over it is a cover of White Zombie's 1995 hit, More Human Than Human. And it was subtitled. So I'm pulled completely out of the story, such as it is, because I'm watching cyber-ninjas fight while I'm reading the lyrics to a twenty-three year old song referencing Blade Runner, which was already thirteen years old when the original song came out -- in a TV show that owes literally absolutely everything to Blade Runner and Neuromancer.

It's almost enough to remind you that this show, based on a sixteen year old book, is a re-tread of ideas that were done better almost four decades ago.

And as the rat's milk returns to the sewer, the cycle of life is complete.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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