End of the Year Clean Up

I’ve been writing solely about Mr. Robot and Shameless so that may seem like that’s all I’ve been watching. I’ve been keeping up with more TV shows than movies as there is so much to keep track of. Time to do some quick hits for the end of the year.

Movie wise, Kong: Skull Island was pretty good. There’s something off about it though. The tone was odd to me and I can’t really place it.  The time of the movie maybe? If I remember right it’s around the time of the Vietnam war and the movie aesthetically looks like it’s trying to fit in with the likes of Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket but it’s got giant monsters in it. The cast was odd too. I’m never going to be convinced that Tom Hiddleston is an action hero (even with slow-motion running with a machete in hand) and Samuel L. Jackson was a maniac for no more reason than needing a human villain. For some reason, giant monsters aren’t enough? At least Kong represented himself well. Quality SFX made Kong look like a champ.

Bright on Netflix was fun. It’s getting crushed by critics and I don’t see why. Sure it’s a half-baked story (with some heavy-handed messages) as the production clearly wants to set up a franchise. I think most of it works though and visually I think it’s rather striking, Quality SFX, great sound design, and better action than Suicide Squad. I think David Ayer had a lot of fun making this one. Will Smith gets top billing and he’s…Will Smith. He’s pretty much Mike Lowrey from Bad Boys in this which is basically his go-to character. The real star is Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby. He’s under a ton of prosthetic makeup to play an Orc and the guy acts his ass off. He brings to life a new and likable character and he steals pretty much every scene. I’d be down to watch a sequel.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is great from start to finish. I think it’s better than the first in every way. More cohesive, more heart and more adventure. A real quality ensemble movie where everyone gets their time in the spotlight and the production is absolutely gorgeous.

Now to TV.

I’m liking what they’re doing on Gotham. Keeps my interest and while there are a lot of moving pieces with so many characters, I think each plot is easy to follow and moving along well. Good to see Bruce hit a dark patch that throws his mission to the side. It’s a lot for a teenager to go through and with the resources he has, I think it’d be easy for him to throw it all away with distractions of debauchery. Fun show.

Arrow. I find myself being bored watching this lately. It’s just not clicking with me. Is the cast too big? Not enough interesting characters? I think it follows a formula too closely where it all starts to blur together. The hits all the same beats As hard as they work to make new action sequences, each fight in a warehouse or on a street at night looks the same. And why does Stephen Amell whisper all the time?

SMILF comes on right after Shameless and I like it a lot. I’ve become a big fan of Frankie Shaw (first seeing her in the first season of Mr. Robot) and this show often makes me laugh.

I’m struggling to get through The Punisher. It came out more than a month ago and I think I’m on episode 4. For a show about a mercenary, it’s strangely boring. It’s gotta be the pacing and I haven’t been able to find a character I really like.

I finished season 2 of Lady Dynamite and I liked it quite a bit. I do think it gets hard and difficult to watch when it leans too far into portraying a manic mind. Most of the “future” sections get so bizarre and nonsensical, I think it would turn off a lot of people and they won’t get to the payoff that comes later. As a contrast, the flashbacks to 1980s Duluth, MN are often the best parts of the show. Maria Bamford is really funny, I’d like to see another season.

Finished up Maron and liked it a lot. You can watch Marc become a better actor with every season and the storytelling is very good. At four seasons I think it hits the perfect spot to end the show.  It probably helps to be familiar with Marc from his WTF podcast but it’s not necessary to enjoy the show.

Trollhunters Part 2 on Netflix just hit. A pleasant surprise as I didn’t know there would be more. Gorgeous animation (behind only TMNT I think) and part 2 wastes no time in getting to the goods. PIcks up right after the end of last season to button up a major plot point of the first and it’s on to a new threat. Fun characters, fun world.

The Walking Dead is a frustrating watch. The pacing is terrible. Long stretches of wheel spinning before something interesting happens. Negan is almost always a disappointment. I swear it seems like every time I say I’m done, I get a payoff that keeps me watching to find out what happens next. I think the cast is far too large. Characters can disappear for awhile to the point where I forget they exist and then they get an episode dedicated to them. I can’t remember this person’s name and I’m supposed to care about them? It’s so bad that when a character who has been on the show for a few seasons gets killed, I have no reaction to it. That’s a problem. I think a world of good would be done with a culling, there’s a lot of dead weight on this show.

Happy! on Syfy is great. Super twisted and unique, it’s about a cop (Nick Sax played by Chris Meloni) who has fallen from grace. Out of the police force, he picks up hit jobs to make money. One day after a job gone not so well, he gets an emergency visit from Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), his daughter’s small, flying, bluish purple, donkey/unicorn imaginary friend. Nick Sax is an absentee father (put mildly) and his daughter has been kidnapped by a deranged Santa Clause. It’s funny, violent and absurd, I really dig it. Happy looks amazing too, his animation is great and he’s textured to look like a plush animal. It’s easy to forget Happy is a CG creature because he’s integrated so well. I think it’s only 8 episodes so it’s all killer and no filler so far.

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