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Shut Eye (2016)
Better than it first appears
If you've seen the trailers you are probably wondering what the show is about. The trailers don't show you what is really going on and neither does the synopses for the show outlined on the IMDb page.
You do start by getting a healthy does of a very fictionalized version of gypsy culture in California but the main story line goes beyond that. I don't want to spoil it but there's a twist in the first episode that sets up the rest of the series.
The acting is good. Some of them may make you cringe, but that's the point. That reaction is exactly what they are going for.
This series is a black comedy, the drama and dark undertones will not be for everyone, but if you can appreciate twisted humor this will not disappoint.
I recommend giving it at least one full episode. The first episode starts out slow and you might not understand it until the end, but force yourself to get through it.
By the end of the first episode you will either understand and be ready to take this ride, or you'll be lost and know it's time to move on to something else.
I just binge watched all 10 episodes and it was seriously awesome. Highly recommended for anyone that likes dark comedies or is a fan of these actors.
Minority Report (2015)
Good but will probably not last
This show is already getting slammed as a "police procedural" but the reality is, what else was it ever going to be? The precog's are not super heros, they have one special power and it does not work particularly well (each having different visions of the future that don't always provide all the details or even agree with each other). But if you were a fan of the film you already knew this, so the set up for the show is no shock in that regard.
You follow the weakest of the 3 precogs as he struggles with knowing parts of the future and how he hasn't been able to do anything with his visions since the precrime program shut down (in the film).
The show does a good job setting up that the world is still trying to recover from the loss of precrime and drops us into that world as Dash (the weak one) has finally decided to seek help instead of failing to solve crimes on his own.
So yea it's a police procedural with a gimmick, but it's well done in a campy sci-fi sort of way and if the ending of the movie minority report left you with a few questions, this show at least makes a valid attempt at answering some of them while creating new questions to push the plot forward.
I don't want to say too much more as it would spoil the plot (everything I've typed so far has been in the trailers or you find out within minutes of the setup), but the show looks like it has a over arching plot as well that is being setup, not just criminal of the week routines, and the sci-fi elements are done respectfully and don't look out of place.(ie. it's not rubber monsters) It's biggest flaws are due to no fault of it's own. There are aspects of the film that set up some of the biggest "why did they do that?" questions. I mean I personally could come up with several ways that precrime could have been "used" without causing the problems that it did, or without the abuses in the system that happened both before and after, but again those are societal flaws in the civil liberties portrayed and the government which are all left overs from the film and the series is working within the confines of that narrative.
I do wish they could have found a way to bring back Samantha Morton as Agatha, but her replacement does an adequate job of filling the role; and the replacement of the other two precogs is seamless enough due to them not really being shown much outside of the tank in the film and this show is meant to be several years later, so they don't have to look 100% the same.
But overall, if you were a fan of the film this will probably find reasons to hook you. Now I can only hope it lasts through the FOX network's horrible habit of canceling sci-fi shows before they are given a chance to grow an audience.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Better than the ratings would imply
This is a movie full of cliché and predictable twists. But it's still Eddie Murphy being funny and filled with cute little moments.
I'm not sure why this film attracts so much hate, it doesn't bother doing anything so terrible that it deserves the vitriol level of criticism that seems to be thrown at it.
It's at worst a movie that's easy to classify as "average", but personally I actually really enjoy this film. It's a non offensive, straight forward sci-fi comedy that doesn't require any deeper understanding or intellectual delving.
There's no deeper meaning here than some funny people having an adventure on a future moon city. You could do a lot worse with your time than to sit back, turn off your brain for an hour and just enjoy the show.
Honestly this is one of my go to movies for multitasking, something funny on in the background that doesn't require my 100% attention to still make me laugh while I'm doing other things. And it ends up getting watched more often than some of the "better" movies that I would rate at 10 simply because those are often a chore to watch and require actually thinking to understand them.
Yes if you understood that correctly: I do enjoy a deeper movie and would rate them higher, but it's also not what I would typically grab from day to day when I just want to laugh while getting through the grind: The Adventures of Pluto Nash "is".
Sons of Anarchy (2008)
TV does not get better than this.
In my decades of TV and movie watching I've come to use a particular phrase far too often: "Well it's not Shakespeare but at least it was entertaining." It's kind of my go-to summary of routine stuff that is fun to watch but isn't really ground breaking. Of course there's better and worse but that one phrase is (for me) adequate enough to describe the bulk of OK shows that come and go.
I'm happy to say I can't use that phrase here. Instead I get to say: Sons of Anarchy is Shakespeare.
This is a show I started watching with no expectations. What I ended up with was a thrill ride of drama, action and dark comedy.
Whether you like the idea of a story about bikers or not, set aside any hesitation and at least give it a chance. This does not glorify the outlaw lifestyle or encourage people to break the law. It just lays out an epic tale of family, friendship, betrayal and brotherhood in all of its glorious and more frequently tragic circumstance.
There is a connection here to the core of human relationships that is rarely portrayed in any format of entertainment; and while you may not always agree with the choices someone makes, you can't help but feel their pain while considering what it would be like in their shoes to be forced into making those choices.
Shakespeare has far and long been considered a master of storytelling. All I can say is the writers have learned from him and infused that same level of craftsmanship into a masterwork of drama that pulls at the very heart of man.
Beyond the story, every aspect of this show is also well done. The acting quality from some of the leads is among the best ever put on film. Even the secondary talent brings a level of realism and believability that suits what is needed for their character. The casting was simply spot on and leaves no room for improvement.
The sets, costumes and cinematography are all also suitable for what needs to be portrayed. This isn't a big budget sci-fi with a bunch of expensive special effects, its the nit and grit of the real world we all live in and it's shown in all of its dirt and glory.
In 40+ years of watching TV and movies; I'm honestly at a loss to name a single thing I've ever watched that was better written or acted than Sons of Anarchy.
There are a few things that come close, and to be honest there are things I'd rather watch more often on repeats simply because they are more fun or more in line with my daily tastes. But, as a total experience Sons of Anarchy is a must watch, at least once in your lifetime. It's just that good.
Game of Thrones (2011)
Not as good as it should have been...
Let me start off by saying this is hands down one of the best TV shows on the air today. Unfortunately part of me can't help but wonder if it's the lack of other quality TV options most of the time that lead me to feel that way.
There is a lot to love here: quality acting, nicely done sets, great attention to detail in props and scenery. Judged on it's own merits there is a lot to enjoy and take in. As a spectacle of it's own this is among the best TV has to offer, with only a handful of movies (with larger budgets) that can top it for its genre.
The problem is; this has source material. Being based on a book series that is simply far and away the best of it's kind printed in the last decade. Having read the books this is where the problems with the show begin to bleed through: the plot simply is not as good as it pretends to be.
You have A-list material from the books which could have been lifted page for page; but instead the show writers have chosen to not only truncate the dialogue but also write in their own mediocre scenes.
Don't get me wrong, I fully understand cutting some things simply because the books are so much longer. But what I can't agree with is cutting material and than replacing it: that means you did have time for things you skipped...
The stuff being added is B-grade at best.
That's the shows biggest sin; dumping good scenes and adding in fluff. The laundry list of other changes (characters that were cut; merged and otherwise changed) is also a bit unsettling. The entire "game of thrones" has essentially been dumbed down for TV. What should be a chess game of monarchs is watered down to a couple of idiots playing checkers. Some of the blood lines for example instead of having multiple heirs only have 1 and the threats and plots surrounding them have been simplified or nearly cut entirely. And in its place? Extra sex scenes from minor characters.
The show is at it's best when it stays true to the books, the dialogue and plot twists shine and keep you engaged. Than it wanders off into la-la land where the writers think they know better than the source material and all I can do is shake my head and wonder just how truly epic and amazing this could have been.
So; is the show good? Yea. Just not as good as it should have been. They were handed the keys to one of the most well developed fantasy worlds ever written, and I just wish they would stop hiding under the bed sheets and stick to the source material.
In summary all I can tell you is this: Read the books. Unless you lack imagination and reading comprehension it will be one of the best reads of your life.
Watch the show afterwards and take it for what it's worth: a 9 that should have been a 10.