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Into the Badlands (2015– )
2/10
Zzzzz & Z
14 April 2018
1. Formula script (meaning successfully done many times before) dystopian future where every group each stakes out there own territory, and human kind continues it's record of never ending conflicts even when they don't seem to have the resources to feed themselves. From Mad Max to Hunger, and a hundred in-between, same old ripoff. 2. Unlikely actors for characters that are suppose to represent fighting machines, but look as if they belong behind a store cosmetics counter along with all their unlikely make-up. Eye candy acting skill & dialogue to match. 3. Same bizarrely crafted Hollywood fake leather clothing found commonly in this genre, and probably used before. 4. Lots of dirty make-up to make them look mean, nasty & tough, otherwise they would have had a hard time convincing a six year old. 5. Martial arts, the mainstay/fulcrum by which this genre survives is the usual wired (then edited out) spinning arms & leg kicks w/without knives, etc. 6. CGI, e.g. the Wall (where have I seen walls of this type before?) is grander than all the other versions, and so unbelievable as a building challenge it actually was laughable. 7. Plot: Filled w/fights, double-crosses, a heroes personal quest, and like Monopoly it's all about who gains the most property.
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The Good Fight (2017– )
5/10
Some Good/Some Bad
12 April 2018
Five stars for: 1. The actress (Steele) playing Marissa the gopher for our lead character/lawyer Baranski. Worth watching the series just for her sharply whimsical/waggish roguery. Three stars for: 1. Acceptable, but stereotyped acting/roles by most of the rest of the cast. 2. For the cases that seem exceptionally contemporaneous, and willingness to argue (somewhat balanced) both sides. One star for: 1. The actress (Leslie) as Maia, and how her character is scripted which is a ridiculous failure in portraying a novice lawyer as maladroit (she would have had more skill in H.S. and college speaking extemporaneously/thoughtfully than what is portrayed in this film). Distractingly stupid role playing - a waste of time.
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2/10
Bland
12 April 2018
Started out with some really cheap/bad CGI. The dialogue was rote memorization of triteness for actors having difficulty memorizing lines longer than seven words; doesn't matter since they were too cheap to add subtitles. The first thing I noticed was how everyone (and I mean everyone) looked as if they were modeling clothing for middle class America while still in the store - bland, sterile, and always sparkling clean with no wrinkles what-so-ever. You would think they never sat down or did anything involving movement. Even the settings such as furniture looked like they came out of a showroom (obviously rented for the movie & told not to touch anything); essentially perfectly contrived and unnatural. The makeup was so heavy (males & females) it was a challenge for them to smile. Acting was daytime TV level. Script - forgettable. Anyway, not a good way to waste one's life.
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7/10
Body Count
10 April 2018
Definitely for the manga crowd and perhaps period samurai followers - yes, lots & lots of sword slicing (and a few other instruments of cutting) profusely abundant; for others ridiculously boring. However, to save screen time and production costs you really don't see much blood (and body parts detached). What is interesting is body count from one individual - a standard of film exaggeration. Lots of sources have posited numbers into the upper hundreds or even a thousand. However, my rough count came up w/about 395 (not easy). His main opponent had maybe 150 at the end. Historically, for one individual it places him ahead of Kingsman: The Secret Service and John Wick. There was another film, 6+ years back, of someone cleaning up a semi-abandoned "Projects" development with about 16 floors. The inner square was empty such that you could look down and across to see walkways on all sides with individual apts. filled with druggies. I can't remember the title. That one had similar outrageous numbers.
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Downsizing (2017)
8/10
Thoughtful Message
8 April 2018
I can see two major issues that might lend itself to so many one star ratings which are: First, it's an allegory which often requires thoughtful energy to process - not something most movie viewers are looking for. Second, it deals with a not so popular or discussed personal subject of over population, and its effects. The movie begins with this thought: "overpopulation as mankind's (note: better humanity) single greatest long-term threat." "The cause of all the catastrophes we are seeing today, extreme climate & weather events... food & water security." I guess they didn't want to mention the 8 million tons of plastic going into the oceans each year, and effects; accelerated extinction of species coupled w/loss of habitat; air, land, water pollution, waste buildup; loss of resources leading to conflicts, wars; altering millions years old Earth's biological balance w/consequences; the list goes on. If God is still looking down I'm sure he/she is wondering what is going on with the edict to multiply & master. So, as for the downsizing effect my first reaction on CGI was "How are they doing that?" The miniaturization was so real, it was just bizarre & captivating to watch. Creative storytelling w/an interesting twist or two; OK acting w/the exception of Hong Chau who came close to Academy nomination for her role, and I couldn't tell if she was truly missing a lower leg.
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2/10
Middle School
7 April 2018
This is an example of writing for the middle school masses. Not yet bright enough (well not all) to be critical, and with little history of seeing cheap inaccurate redundancies. 1. Centuries from now fighter craft w/combustion flaming propulsion? Please! 2. Everyone is still wearing what looks like WWII surplus clothing, and the purple dyed hair in Vice Admiral (what does the Navy have to do with all this) - how late 1900s. 3. Sound effects dominate the movie (a crutch I suppose for lazy writing & research) in the vacuum of space (or just anywhere to add effect). Also, overbearing music though out to add effect a form of cheap action subbing. 4. Lots of dumbed down simplistic dialogue thus showing no desire to educate an audience or require thought. 5. Same old storyline - boringly predictable. 6. Too heavy a reliance on the same old visuals of things burning in space which incidentally would also fail middle school science. Also, the accelerations/decelerations - not possible especially for living occupants. More dumbing down. 7. All these years no one has ever bothered to explain the physics behind a light saber laser stopping a meter away from it's source. Conclusion: Scify (Sci-fi) can be done intelligently w/a bit of creative research & writing, and less concern for the bottom line.
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3/10
Dumb
7 April 2018
1. Special effects - nothing new (not creative, intelligent) basically juvenile and cheap and redundant. 2. Same old dysfunctional super heroes with issues as if to make them more relatable to us humans, but only done to sell the product to viewers. 3. A lot of the typical bad science (meaning would have a hard time passing middle school science. One scene were a critical timing of capturing a mother cube as it is falling and just as it touches the water needs to be timed to the millisecond to be workable so how do our super heroes time the event - just a verbal five, four, three.... 4. Dialogue compatible with storyline of dumbed down e.g. Wonder Woman's insightful and critical line "He's back!". Geee, she's so articulate. That also would fail a middle school language arts writing assignment.
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Taboo (2017– )
2/10
Vancouver Island is Important?
30 March 2018
Had potential, but too many holes. 1. No subtitles coupled with a variety of English dialects and attempts to sound 1800s compatible, and audio levels all over the place with often poor enunciations leads to the viewer missing a lot, and I mean a lot, of the important dialogue thus the story just becomes a visual experience without nuanced substance/content. 2. Cheap production is furthered with no special features, and a cheap tendency for the disk to always recycle to the first episode no matter which episode you may have temporally ended at. 3. Story/plot had potential about a man coming into ownership of what is now Vancouver Island on the border between Canada and the US and during the period of bad relations between English colonialism and the US, but didn't really explore that topic. Native peoples of that region will not like their brief attention, to this point, and certainly will be surprised if their cultures or the introduction of smallpox will be talked about. 4. Most of screen time is draggingly devoted to talking heads usually squabbling (i.e. camera is constantly panning back 'n forth between two talking heads filling the screen). For the most part the only action outside of a room of talking heads occurs at the end of the final episode. 5. Supporting the emphasis on visuals were the well constructed sets and authentic, usually dirty, clothing so cheap, but well done, visuals was where the money was placed.
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8/10
Not as Bad as Initially Thought
30 March 2018
The first few minutes I thought I was in for another in the long long line of dysfunctional police/detectives etc. with addiction and/or family issues and often shaky relations w/police cohorts, plot storyline. But, shortly after that bleak start I was captured by the unique acting character personalities; the humorous back 'n forths; the dialogue; and to some extent the story itself. Other components such as cinematography, editing were quite good. Music was a little shallow; could have used just basic period rock in it's place. The other negative, and quite common in this genre, was in a couple of predictable scenes. Has potential for a series should they decide to go in that direction.
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I, Tonya (2017)
3/10
One Sided
29 March 2018
I saw the events live when they originally took place, and followed the news for a few years after. Right off, I was disappointed in this movie's one-sided interpretation. It was so overloaded w/negative behaviors you would think every one portrayed spent their entire lives doing nothing but being evil/hateful etc. It was loaded with continuous swearing, yelling, smoking, drugs, abuse, ego. It's what happens when fame & money govern our values. Although unusual in how this took place it is not without precedent in sports w/cheating & dishonesty the past hundred years (including quite recently) in baseball, basketball, football, tennis, cricket, track, cycling, gymnastics (e.g. using drugs that help a person focus), soccer (even to the point of fans dying).
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8/10
Better Than Expected
21 March 2018
In the mode of Guardians it has that laid back self-deprecating, poke fun of yourself, humor which allows one to overlook the far less than sound science behind it all. Great graphics or CGI or visuals or animation or etc. or whatever they call all those subcategories of made-by-a-computer. Best of all was that Led Zep, "Immigrant Song", soundtrack to highlight devastating firefights (or is it laser or electrical or whatever) effects.
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Battlecreek (2017)
3/10
Not Much of a Battle
20 March 2018
Almost without fail their are two signs of a cheap production. One is an opening prolonged scene of a car driving down a road. OK, that's out. The second is no subtitles - check; poor audio level & in this case it seemed to be dubbed in after the movie was filmed (hollow, distant sound) - check; poor enunciation w/added southern dialect to be slightly less understandable - check. Third is lots of camera focused talking heads time - check. Script - small town (w/the typical small town issues) local young male is introverted because of a slightly noticeable skin problem; falls for girl (when her car brake down in said small town) who's running away from abusive boyfriend. 95% of film run time is just talking heads until the final few minutes when old meets new love interest. At that point I'm script redundantly script bored and could care less about the outcome which, of course, is predictable.
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3/10
Geriatric
20 March 2018
Nothing against Jones or Freeman (his voiceover on a variety of science docs are good), and I've seen most of what they've done. So, the only way this film is made is if the aforementioned are short on cash. Dialogue is middle school level; action/drama (thankfully not much of it, and the rest was mostly run time with talking heads) has been done before and much much better. Typical good guy/bad buy team up to best the adversary, and who cared. The rest of the screen time was a lot of geriatric oldies checking out slightly younger geriatric females w/tired old lines.
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8/10
The Female in Islam
18 March 2018
"Women should not go outside and attract unnecessary attention. If a woman shows herself, she will be cursed by Islamic sharia, and should never expect to go to heaven." Male Islamic tradition has been "placing the onus on the victim" as an element of female enslavement. Only if you are a boy can you go anywhere. We have the Taliban in the Hindu Kush mountainous region of Afghanistan enforcing that precept. In our story eleven year old Parvana is forced to provide for the family because the father has been jailed. An eleven year old girl with an older sister, infant brother and mom all rely on her to secretly venture into the streets to get food & water for the family under the threat of the Taliban. My only negative thought is to have seen the fabled horse tale (haha) finished as well as that of the father.

Animation in the French minimalist style (in this case mostly Irish & Canadian) is great attention to detail. We see the arid dust swirling from the wind; the exhaust of cars; the paleness of the females confined indoors in contrast to our Sun tanned Parvana. Music adds authenticity & movement. Then we have a different animation style to fit still another, and more ancient moral fable within this girl's story. We see the thousands of years of conflict that have been waged in this fulcrum of civilization. Still leaving their remnants of war, which to the children are toys of death.

As an aside, it is through the education of females in Afghanistan & similar countries that the equality in being human, a threat to male dominance through sharia, is to be realized which is why the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, & Boko Haram kill to prevent it.
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Wonder (I) (2017)
7/10
The Real Problem
10 March 2018
Interesting that the only positively portrayed ethnic minority in the movie was a very light skinned black (safely female) that would blend unnoticeably w/everyone else cast, yet the issues they face daily are little different from what our central character endures. Additionally, what billions of people face each day because their appearance is based in poverty, race, religion provoke injustices that overwhelms them into a miserable & shortened life. Auggie's family, community, nation, we viewers live in distanced comfort.
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Suburbicon (2017)
9/10
C'est la Vie
10 March 2018
Started out plodding, methodical (some could even say boring), but I hung in there. If you enjoy irony, satire, literary burlesque & caricature; perhaps some parody mixed w/classical Clooney social commentary then you will find those pursuing (entrapped) in material, shall we say - Greed, e.g. middle (and lower, and upper) America (and most other countries as well) characterized iconically in Suburbicon. The only thing missing was a portrait (billboard - duh!) of Trump somewhere. A not-for-the-kids movie notably because in contrast to the robotic sterile setting a kid is on course to be a blood splattered victim. Setting, sets, props, costumes squeaky clean perfect. Denouement had me chuckling for the final 20+ minutes. I can see where some might one star this story as being too close for comfort, and some may find the attendant storyline of racism distracting, but I found that branch as well as the "greed" story branch mentioned above inseparably intertwined.
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8/10
Well Done
5 March 2018
A lawyer with something akin to social communication disorder w/savant skills (e.g. think Rain Man) doesn't fit in. Totally engaging acting by Denzel. Dialogue is a bit heavy for some, (i.e. a line from Voltaire: "We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.") Or this monologue on his disenchantment w/legal social justice where he decides to file a case against himself, "You know, all those years of practicing, scouring law books, achieving technical triumphs through loopholes and ambiguities, none of which were adequate to same (sp save) me from the reality of my present situation. Then today, in the middle of nowhere, lost, I had a revelation; an insight so sweeping, so clear. It's me George. See, I didn't see it before because I never experienced the other side. I'm the defendant and the plaintiff simultaneously. I file against myself, I represent myself, I convict myself, hereby expanding the full scope of the legal desert, because the judgment's built in. The only thing left is forgiveness and I grant that to myself. An act doesn't make the person guilty unless the mind is guilty as well."
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Mom and Dad (2017)
8/10
Haha Watch Out
5 March 2018
How often does someone jokingly say something to the effect "I could kill that ..." which in this case "My kids." Well, a humorous exaggerated hyperbole and satire on that idea is to be found literally happening in this film. The mystery contagion (I assume.) is never identified, but doesn't matter as the events that unfold are so outlandishly funny, you don't care. Great acting in this over-the-top, and creatively conceived reckoning. Fortunately we are spared the details of the mayhem so it's somewhat all-age appropriate.
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4/10
Misplaced?
3 March 2018
The signature manifestation of a cheap production is having prolonged opening aerial scenes of a car driving on a roadway usually in a foresty setting followed by scenes viewing upward toward trees rustling in the wind. Dead giveaway. But, moving on to the substance (script), basically it was a fantastical sweetened good converts bad into good storyline. A bit stereotyped (i.e. dramatized & admitted so in credits) of a black angry homeless person w/racially abusive growing up experiences within a cotton plantation setting and the always present white slave owners. However, to the rescue is an upper middle class white couple volunteering, where else, soup kitchen (a misnomer as food fare has improved the past decades especially w/donations at food banks). A sort of Union Gospel shelter to the rescue. Acting was overdramatic in both directions overly aggressive and overly submissive, but got the point across. Zellweger could convert Satin w/the calm sweetness of her voice alone. Not overly preachy, and had the potential to be so. The helping the homeless cause in America is valuable, but relative to the billion people worldwide who live daily w/debilitating disease, no medical care, hunger, poor/no sanitation, no potable H2O, little/no shelter, rape, abuse, very short life spans, murders based on religion or gender - it pales.
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The Student (2016)
9/10
Humans Should Dominate (Dominion Over)
1 March 2018
The first DVD I've seen in which there is no menu (e.g. chapters; audio; special features, etc.) at the start. It just started, I was initially worried that subtitling would not be present, but turns out subtitling was actually well done & accurately translated. Script is centered about a high school student (possibly in Moscow, Russia), and his isolation from his schoolmates because his newly developed obsession (or is it devotion) to a literal interpretation of The Bible (literalists don't see it as an interpretation, but as the only direct & unquestioned revelation from God) sets him at odds with everyone including his mom. His actions turn most students/school personnel against him (but not all) disrupting the school. He causes his biology teacher to be confrontational to the point she loses it. He believes a true devotee must be willing to die (martyr) for their place in Heaven. Most Christians (including conservative Russian Orthodox Church members) & everyone else will have Hell (i.e. think William Blake's burning Hell) as their destination. He believes prayer is only honest when done in secrecy/privately; temples/churches & anything equivalent to gold (wealth) are a ticket to Hell. Lots of remarkably unbiased intelligent discourse presenting his pov while he tries to defend himself & change others, including the science/biology teacher who is his main counterpoint. To showcase human debauchery there's full nudity (no sex); excessive consumption; vainness. Not a dry talking heads story, but an engaging, at times amusing (in biology a sex-ed demo with a carrot & condom turns hilarious), dramatic story w/a surprising ending.
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4/10
Don't Think
28 February 2018
Four stars overall, but seven stars for the idea. Four stars because dialogue was hard to follow with no subtitles; poor enunciation; really poor audio level control, and that's coming from a person w/normal hearing. Seven stars for a dystopian future storyline similar to what China, Russia, North Korea, Turkey, Syria offer the world now (and the US kind of heading that way recently). A trickle down economy in which the wealthy and/or powered privileged keep the masses in line w/slogans w/nationalist religious fervor, and the scraps to keep them sustainable day-to-day. Personal expression of your dreams, etc. are reason for sanction or imprisonment. Appropriately, filmed out of Hungary.
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4/10
Crawly Things
28 February 2018
The ending, last few minutes, was quite different than the entire rest of the movie. Up to the ending we have to endure a not so likeable female Russian (?) immigrant trying to earn enough money to pay the bills. Nothing so interesting until the end when she's given a chance to earn a few thousand for a night's work. So now we're down to the final 10 min. and it just in the final two or so that we see the task. Actually, kind of dumb, and not so believable. Not a movie I'll remember in a week or so.
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Stranger Things (2016– )
2/10
Monster's Agent
27 February 2018
Cheap Netflix is one of those studios that forces you to sit though long trailers of their movie offerings. Anyway, can we say "uncreative ripoff"? I could list at least dozens of reasons why, but will only do a few. Series demographics is for the middle school to the barely graduated high school set. The following "usual" means storyline hooks been done countless times before - simple cheap formula to sell and make money for producers, et al. 1. Usual dysfunctional family; single parent raising a mix of kids. Lots of age inappropriate smoking; drinking; fake underage sex; language "don't be a pussy". 2. Usual local constable w/issues such as addictions (smoking, drinking, being independently 'ornery) to come to single mom's help. 3. Usual gang of middle schoolers bullied by bigger baddies (but payback is on the horizon of course). 4. Usual cute girl romances for the schoolers. Usual nerdy science teacher. Usual schoolers out to solve the missing peoples puzzle despite initial push back from dull clueless adults. Usual biking on dark roads w/woods of course. 5. Usual secret quarantine lab in small town w/baddie corporate research w/baddie secret government help. Lab is trying to create super humans (of course), and then there has to be an alien supernatural portal for our usual menace. Usual EEG device as cheap visual for altering/measuring brain. 6. Usual superpower tricks such as telekinesis (levitating, opening/closing things, pushing things about) w/usual bleeding nose. 7. Cheap special effects such as flashing on/off lights; falling snow/ash; bluish lighting; blobby & webby things on walls; critter hand/face coming through wall (which is just stretchy fabric); shadowy figures; flashing across screen figure; blurry images; same-old-same-old critter w/usual big flappy mouth (I'ld like to be his agent). 8. Lots & lots of screen time devoted to just scenes of talking heads (people just talking about nothing special or intelligent) - cheap filler. 9. Acting, dialogue all TV level quality. Left enough unresolved for another season.
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8/10
History Lesson
24 February 2018
The start of the movie made me think "three star" as we were presented w/the improper clichéd scene of male teacher looking at attractive female student with an obviously longer attention span (in real life it would be noticeable to all ss) and female student smiling back, also with more than academic interest. OK, obviously meant to capture viewer interest for what was to follow. But, as the tale unfolds it turned out to be informative on many issues, particularly for that period and applicable still today, about female gender role in society; what is sexuality; what is love; general societal acceptable norms of behavior for relationships; not to mention our ground breaking female superhero. The only thing I thought was missing, probably in special features, was better objective documentation to support the telling of the story in that way.
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4/10
Smart Squirrel
22 February 2018
On the positive side the CGI (thanks to computer evolution) of the critters and alien spacecraft were OK although nothing was new or creative in design. On the negative side our alien predator with ubiquitous gurgling sounds is getting old. The spacecraft looks like the creative genius of a junkyard metal collector who tossed a bunch of scrap steel into a pile. How this space traveling functionally illiterate design and construction could ever traverse hundreds of billions of miles of space at any speed and survive (especially colliding with space dust, rocks, gases) requires a lot of imagination. Anyway aliens are still doing the sucking up of human brains (why since they are so far in advance of us) for tasks. That would be like me asking my neighborhood squirrel for help building skyscraper.
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