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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30 Responses:

  1. Rodger says:

    I have not watched Bright, and I am not going to, because everything I've heard about it suggests a moron ripped off the old Shadowrun sourcebooks and missed literally everything that made them interesting beyond "magic and tech".

    • MattyJ says:

      I wouldn't even go that far. Maybe the writer read the blurbs on the dust jacket and stopped at that.

  2. phuzz says:

    At last, someone else who's enjoying The Magicians! And they've stopped muting the swearing now, which is great because that was annoying me so much before.

    • jwz says:

      I assume that the swear-dropouts were a result of a magical spell, and so now that magic is gone...

      (The Good Place, of course, swears better than anybody.)

      I also loved the bit where Dean Fogg basically blames Trump on the absence of magic:

      I'm a Magician with no magic. A dean without a school. Just a blind, unemployed black man in America. Which, shockingly, was actually being kept 38% more tolerant through a series of enchantments which have now died. In case you hadn't noticed, or perhaps maybe you weren't in a position to need to.

      • phuzz says:

        That makes sense actually, that a school would have a no-swearing enchantment (which has now been de-powered).
        I also love the way they've made the most of their budget with the ship being a pretty small yacht on the outside, but large on the inside. because magic!

  3. Seamus says:

    Re: The Lure

    You're looking for the release "The.Lure.2015.Criterion.BluRay.1080p.Dd.5.1.x264.D-Z0N3". It's on Usenet. Your mileage may vary finding it in the torrent world.

  4. sclatter says:

    The Magicians is my favorite thing. As you say, everything, but I especially appreciate that it allows me to have some humor about the fact that I can still pretty much recite the Narnia books.

  5. Happen Muche says:

    RE: Kingsman. What did you think of Austin Powers? I found it to be rather gauche.

    • jwz says:

      Honestly, I barely remember Austin Powers, but I do recall that a couple of years after Austin Powers came out I re-watched Our Man Flint and realized that wow, Austin Powers brought nothing new to the party.

  6. Leonardo Herrera says:

    I'm surprised you liked Travelers. I did (loved the characters), but some plot devices were really stupid.

    Ah, The Good Place. Hope they get another season. It was so silly.

  7. Mister E. says:

    why was this a science fiction movie at all? The futuristic setting has basically no bearing on the plot.

    I had the same question while watching, and my guess was:

    1) As "sequel to Moon" it pulls in some audience it might not otherwise.

    2) SPOILER: The way the prosthetics subplot pays off toward the end wouldn't be possible without science fiction. I keep trying to think of ways to rework the story to eliminate this requirement, but it doesn't quite feel right. I'm not sure that's enough of a reason for the entire movie to be far-flung future, though; it could've just been an experimental thing set in the modern day.

  8. Doctor Memory says:

    Your friends who do not like The Good Place: are they also dubious about puppies, kittens, heirloom tomatoes and uncut cocaine? I feel like this could justify a detailed blog post on its own.

    • HElusis says:

      Hear, hear. It is a joy to watch, spoiled only by the fact that 13 episodes of 22 minutes each goes by so fast that I barely have time to enjoy the anticipation of more.

  9. David Konerding says:

    Re: The Good Place- I think it would be better if they dropped the two "dumb" actors (Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto). I find them grating.

    I find it funny you're one of the last remaining recommenders I follow that consistently finds stuff I like, that I haven't been able to find no matter how hard I try.

    • jwz says:

      You mean you can't find these movies? I have no special movie-finding skills, I just use YTS and TPB.

      • David Konerding says:

        I'm not using YTS or TPB, which is almost certainly why you're finding them when I'm not. Most of the stuff on YTS is too niche or low-production-value, and the quality on TPB is pretty variable.

        Either way, these writeups are great. We don't always agree (I was able to watch Bright, found parts a bit weak, but still finished it) but it's clear from your writeups that you hate the same things I do for the same reasons.

  10. Miguelito says:

    It's very, very stupid and pretty funny.

    That's exactly what I figured when I watched the Future Man trailer. Sometimes that's exactly what I'm in the mood for too.

  11. ennui says:

    Can someone explain to me why I enjoy watching the Shananannara Chronicles? because I can't figure it out beyond alcohol, and an abiding sense of self loathing. Someone should make Hellraiser: Netflix. "We have such sights to show you..."

  12. I'm glad to receive corroboration about both The Good Place and Future Man. Future Man is a hard sell to people because it really is like 40% puerile -- being associated with the writer of Sausage Party hasn't done it any favours in my friend circle -- but it is fucking hilarious.

    The Good Place is a lot of fun -- especially into the second season -- but it kills me that the episodes are so damn short. I feel like if it wasn't forced into 22-minute mini-arcs it could be even better.

    The Magicians is just universally great and anyone who doesn't like it is wrong and a bad person.

    • Re: The Lure, rarbg has a high-quality release that's without HC subs. Here:

    • HElusis says:

      I still can't get over how much I've enjoyed S1 and 2 of The Magicians, given how much I hated the books. Time to get S3.

      • Elusis says:

        Weird, why is there not a standalone "reply" box for this post when I view it. Huh.

        Anyway, I'm glad you liked "Dark" and find the comparisons to "Stranger Things" as dumb and spurious as I do. The correct comparison is to "Les Revenants."

        And I have at least 15 unanswered questions from S1 written down in a note for myself so that I can get back on track when S2 comes out without being too terribly confused. Between being a bit faceblind, and the complexity of the time/plot/relationships matrix, I had to pause a LOT to ask F "OK so is that the journalist who's having an affair with her mom, or is that the nuclear plant guy who will eventually father the other kid?"

  13. Jan says:

    I'm pretty sure you would like Housebound, which by some strange coincidence is the third horror/comedy from New Zealand in the last few years (I know you've already seen "What We Do in the Shadows" and "Deathgasm"), even though all three movies are quite different from each other. This one is mostly a straight horror/mystery movie with some really funny scenes, and I was surprised by how much I liked it.

  14. James says:

    Re: Stargate: Universe ... Can I just jump into that if I've only ever seen the Stargate movie?

  15. Bruce says:

    No love for The Orville ? It's basically Star Trek with daily reality (interpersonal issues, farts, etc). I'm not sure it knows where it's going, but it's fun.

    • jwz says:

      Wow, farts. That's totally what Star Trek was missing.

      Like I said last time: I barely made it through the first episode, and it filled me with rage. Someone gave this shithead a budget to cosplay Star Trek with the premise, "You know what would have made Trek better? If Kirk was a racist drunk who hates his ex wife." Fuck that show. This review nailed it.

  16. Owen W. says:

    I thought I had deja vu when I saw trailers for Happy Death Day (snirk), and I finally figured out I was remembering Salvage (2006) ( It was pretty good.

  17. Alex Victory says:

    Holy crap I really thought that I was the only person watching Falling Water. Like, anywhere. I'm actually digging the new season because of the idea of lots of different groups working at different power levels of dream influence, and they're all at least vaguely aware of each other.