February 2022 Reviews (many)

Wheel of Time S1 (2021)

Medium: TV (Amazon)

Rating: 4 / 5 Politics, destiny, and the occasional magic spell

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

This series is loosely based on the novels of the same name, following a mage, her warder, and a group of reluctant adventures that might be destined for greater things. A world of magic and combat, the series does well in portraying the casting of a magic spell. Through the first season we are introduced to several key players, groups, politics, and races. We learn that women can channel magic and for a man to do so is just not a good thing. Like the books, parts are slow and get bogged down leaving you desiring a bit more of the ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ aspect; combat, monsters, and adventure. Like many fantasy book series of that era, season one essentially leaves us with a “the princess is in another castle” vibe to set up season two.

Messiah (2020)

Medium: TV (Netflix)

Rating: 5 / 5 What do you believe it is

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

This is a surprisingly compelling series that gives us what many dub a messiah that may represent a second coming of a higher power. Perhaps the best aspect is how the show does a wonderful job keeping you guessing; back and forth, wondering if the show will portray Al-Masih as a messiah or if he is a con man. Investigated and followed by a CIA officer, wonderfuly played by Michelle Moanaghan, the story takes us around the world as Al-Masih (masterfully played by Mehdi Dehbi) appears to perform miracles. Quickly finding himself on the radar of the CIA, FBI, and Mossad, Al-Masih also finds many allies including a faith-shaken pastor from a tiny town in Texas. This was a rare show that had me eagerly looking forward to the next episode to see where it would go.

Zone 414 (2021)

Medium: Movie (Netflix)

Rating: 3 / 5 90 minutes of fluff around a 10 minute plot

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

It seems like this movie is trying to invoke a sense of Bladerunner to me, but falling short. The entire location of the movie is suggested to be this big zone where AI robots built for pleasure are legal, but it feels like the movie happens in five sets. The entire plot could have been wrapped up in 10 minutes but it is drawn out with a lot of extraneous scenes. Ones that were intended to add gravity to the plot, but simply didn’t. Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz does a nice job portraying an AI robot that feels emotions and wants something better. If you are into the dystopian / AI genre, might be worth a watch.

Ganglands (2021)

Medium: TV (Netflix)

Rating: 4 / 5 Suivez le travail de Mehdi

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

A high-end robbery crew in France find themselves in the middle of a turf war between rival drug organizations. In addition to the war, the leader of the group (Mehdi) must work with a group of amateur criminal kids to save loved ones. Family dynamics and positioning plague one family organization while there are trust issues between the two criminal groups stuck in the drug empires. Unlike many U.S. series that keep everyone around, this show isn’t afraid to unexpectedly kill people off. For those who enjoy the heist/crime drama genre, this is an enjoyable show. Note that the show is out of France, so subtitles are likely needed.

The Book of Boba Fett (2021)

Medium: TV (Disney)

Rating: 3 / 5 It’s a slow, weird read

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

To call this an odd series might be an understatement. As a friend points out, it “felt like the season got chopped into three parts and handed to different teams“. You have Boba during flashbacks, present-day Boba, and 1+ episode Mandalorian interlude. Most of it has the planet Tatooine in common at least! While we get a better picture of the planet and its inhabitants, we also get weird continuity gaps and bouts of poor writing. For those who discriminate on TV but are fans of the Star Wars franchise, you may be forced to watch it for the bigger story. (Or at least, 1×05 and 1×06 for the Mando part!)

Peacemaker (2022)

Medium: TV (HBO Max)

Rating: 4.5 / 5 some delicious beefcake, anyone? …Bueller?

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

This series picks up after The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker returns home to find out he doesn’t face more prison. Instead, he faces more time serving Amanda Waller which is arguably worse. He finds himself with some of his prior support team, a new costumed hero (The Vigilante), and his best friend Eagly, a pet eagle. The group is tasked to take out ‘the butterflies’, an alien race that inhabits human bodies but has their own designs on the planet. Plot twist.. they don’t want to destory it like humans! The show is non-stop amusement through goofy and childish humor. Cena does a great job portraying this idiot of a hero and for the first time a TV series got a CGI animal right. And the good news, already renewed for a second season.

Reservation Dogs S1 (2021)

Medium: TV (Hulu)

Rating: 4.5 / 5 On the res, off the chain

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

This is a dark comedy about Native American teen life on a reservation in Oklahoma. While most of the show centers around a boring life and the idea of escape to a better place. The four teens have to deal with a rival crew, making money to escape, and the death of one of their friends by suicide (trigger warning). The casting is phenomenal and the humor is fun.

Reacher (2022)

Medium: TV (Amazon)

Rating: 3.5 / 5 It’s a reach to call this a good series

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

Despite Alan Ritchson physically matching Reacher as written in the books, he somehow seems wrong after Tom Cruise in the movies. To me, the character Reacher seems like the kind that is smaller and more unassuming; Not a huge muscled guy. Ritchson’s character in this series also seems to try to inject awkward humor at times that does not seem in keeping with the character overall. As for the series, the ending is too cliche and there are continuity gaps all over. The plot progresses with a lot of unknowns, then before the final episode, it seems like everything is figured out too neatly via a “Eureka” moment. Anti-climatic to say the least.

Eternals (2021)

Medium: Movie (Disney)

Rating: 3 / 5 This feels like an eternity

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

Marvel keeps trying to upstage their own movies for final battles. This movie shows how drawn out and exhausting that mindset is. The story of the Eternals has a lot of potential but what might be the most interesting parts, their lives over 7000 years, occurs in brief flashbacks. There is also no real explanation as to each Eternal; what led to their current forms? Why is one a kid, one deaf, no old, why each power, etc. This movie plays out over 2.5 hours and keeps a good pace, but I found myself more engaged only hoping it would get better and reach that potential I saw. I think this movie would have been better playing out a majority of the time leading up to the present day, showing more of life in the ancient cultures. That would give more relatable characters perhaps, understanding their backstory, and being more invested.

I Am Not OKAY With This (2020)

Medium: TV (Netflix)

Rating: 4 / 5 I am OKAY with this series

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

This is a fun series where a teen in a small town discovers she has some form of super powers. It’s a dark and awkward comedy with quirky characters that rides the line between “teens fitting in” and “oh shit, one has super powers”. She can’t control the powers, they only manifest when she is angry or overwhelmed. The first season ends with a big teaser about her learning to control the powers and maybe having a cause. Worth the watch.

Riders of Justice (2020)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 4.5 / 5 the ride to justice is winding and odd

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

On the surface this may seem like a standard revenge movie and it certainly has those elements. What the movie really excels at is giving us four diverse characters, most quirky as hell. What starts as death, probability, and revenge turns into a story about the people involved and their relationships, past and present. This movie is well done and enjoyable.

Shameless U.S. S1 – 11 (2011)

Medium: TV (Showtime)

Rating: 4.5 / 5 The best disfunction you will ever see

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

After 11 seasons, the U.S. version of Shameless came to an end. Eleven years of dark and irreverent humor and depraved scenes as every single character is deeply flawed and a product of a less-than ideal upbringing. Yet somehow the Gallagher family prevails to some degree. One of the really neat things was watching a lot of the young actors playing kids grow up into their teens. A vast majority of the cast stayed on, giving a real feeling of growing up with them. Standout characters: Liam (Christian Isaiah) for a steady dose of more subdued scenes, Kevin (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) for outstanding humor, as well as Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and Mickey (Noel Fisher) for perhaps the absolute best rollercoaster relationship in TV history (especially the final season). [10 Season Super Trailer]

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