December 2021 Reviews (many)

Foundation S1 (2021)

Medium: TV (Apple)

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Great adaptation with some creative liberty

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer || Apple

This series is based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series of books. It’s been too long so I don’t know how creative they got, but the Internet seems to think it took some liberty with many aspects of the books. That’s fine with me because the show was enjoyable. It takes a couple episodes to build the characters and worlds but it’s worth the wait. Lou Llobell and Leah Harvey stand out with nuanced and emotional roles. This is contrasted well by ‘Empire’, played by several actors, to give antithesis to Llobell and Harvey. The first season answers some of the questions they set up while giving us many worlds and players, but a general cliffhanger of “OK what happens next?!” Fortunately for us, season 2 is already greenlit.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 1 / 5 Let there be better movies in the future

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

While generally a fan of the MCU, especially the offbeat movies (e.g. Deadpool), Venom and this sequel just weren’t enjoyable. I like Tom Hardy and appreciate the role he has to play; a fast-talking schizophrenic essentially. But the monster within him isn’t as funny as the writers think it is. Suspending disbelief on the whole alien symbiotic relationship with Hardy is easy, but then several parts that are used to advance the plot simply aren’t. What a shame.

Motherland: Fort Salem S1 – S2 (2020 – 2021)

Medium: TV (Freeform)

Rating: 4 / 5 A spell of a good time

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

This series is a neat take on an alternate history of the world, where the Salem witch trials were just the start of witchcraft. Instead of killing them and going away, witches became an integral part of society by becoming the basis of the army. No tanks or guns, just badass witches able to channel magic through their vocal abilities along with specialized whips called ‘scourges’. The most compelling part is the world-building around the magic and how it works. The wide range of spells and abilities that come with it are well-done. The only place it fell short is when the new recruits go into battle and it feels more like a turn-based fight rather than real time. If the producers could do a better job making a large-scale battle, it would be great to see. This is a fun series and I look forward to the final third season.

American Sicario (2021)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 2 / 5 It wasn’t a hit(man)

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

If you aren’t familiar, a “sicario” is “a hired gunman or assassin”. For those familiar with the 2015 movie by the same name, you know the term and idea. With this movie’s name, you would expect something along those lines. Instead, we get a cartel movie but one without any hitmen really. It’s like the creator didn’t know what the term meant and it should have been “American Cartel Guy” but I guess not as flashy. Add in Danny Trejo who plays a meek ex .. sicario, but his performance is severely underused. Throw in the usual continuity issues and logic gaps and this movie just falls short.

Apex (2021)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 1.5 / 5 Much more the nadir of movies

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

Simple concept we have seen plenty of times from Hard Target to Hunger Games, where humans are hunted for sport. Bruce Willis is cast as the prey and probably told to channel a Die Hard 3 John McClane vibe. His counterpart, played by Neal McDonough, embraces the role of an elitist who fancies himself as an apex predator. The problems though, are numerous. The other hunters are idiots, the hunt has no tension or action, the prey is not compelling, and just about everything else falls short. Skip it.

Zeros and Ones (2021)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 1 / 5 Not much made sense

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

Huh? The entire premise just didn’t make sense unless you are willing to suspend disbelief in ways we shouldn’t have to. The style of low-res grainy filming with too many dark scenes wasn’t artistic either, it was just hard to make out details and follow along. While Ethan Hawke generally does well in the roles he picks, nothing about his performance stood out and he was playing his twin brother as well; twice the opportunity to shine… or fail.

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