It’s that time again! Moving the backlog over from my Facebook page, a gathering of various reviews over the past few months all together in one handy post! Get amongst it:
PREACHER – Season 1 (partial) (2016)
Perhaps it’s a little premature to post a review for a show only halfway through its first season, but damned if it ain’t entertaining as all hells and getting better with every episode. Darkly funny, extremely well-produced, batshit crazy. Go in blind (if you’re unfamiliar with the excellent comic it’s based on), enjoy where it takes its ideas. Highly recommended.
ONE PUNCH MAN – Season 1 (2015)
The ongoing fanboy argument for “who would win a fight between <blank> & <blank>” has been settled with this instant classic anime parody series: Saitama, the “One-Punch Man”, named so because he can defeat any opponent with a single, insanely overpowered punch. But he’s kind of bored as a result, and everyone thinks he cheats because it’s so easy for him. It’s amazingly hilarious. To say anything more would be to spoil any number of the many, many gags. There’s 12 episodes, with a second season supposedly coming at some point down the line. Meanwhile, get on board. Highly, highly recommended.
POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (2016)
Look, if you’re an anti-fan of the Lonely Island guys this probably isn’t going to be the thing to win you over. But damned if it isn’t so infectiously enthusiastic about being hilariously dumb that you do get swept up in Samberg & Co’s charming idiocy. I feel like, say, letting the South Park guys have a quick run over the script would have improved the satire angle quite a bit more (and I still refuse to believe that a cameo is a joke in its own right) but the cast are all-in and a lot of the gags are inspired, even if they can’t all land a bullseye. But there are a LOT of them, so you’ll forget the misfires pretty quickly. It’s a non-stop barrage of cheap jokes that mostly works, plus, I wound up having a few of the songs following me around for days afterwards, tempting me to sing some wildly inappropriate things out loud in public.
It’s a comedy. I LOLed. Call that a win.
HORRIBLY CG NOT-VERY-NINJA THINGS 2: THE QUEST FOR MORE MERCHANDISING (2016)
Awful. Just awful. At least it’s not making much money.
Y’know, I really think the smartest thing they did with this film was putting Duncan Jones at the helm. I’ll be upfront and say: it’s not amazing. But it was far better than the trainwreck I was expecting, and much of that credit should be placed at Jones’ feet because in the hands of 99% of directors this would have been unwatchable. You can see that horrible, awful movie in there, trying to get out, wishing it had been left to someone who cared just a little less about the source material and was less dedicated to slavishly painting it onto the screen. It’s been a decade and a half and more since I last played the original game in the series (where the story is mostly pulled from) and I won’t confess to remembering anything significant of it, which I really feel did me a favour here because I wasn’t just waiting for long-established plot points to fall into place and actually got to kick back and watch a whole bunch of CGI fuckery I had little-to-no investment in roll out. The world was well designed, but doesn’t feel lived-in. The orcs were kinda neat, but the human characters feel like they’re set up to become more interesting in later instalments which, based on the money this is generating in China currently, is probably not far off. Mostly I’m amazed that this got made at all. But here we are.
And it’s okay, I suppose. I really hope more people went to see this than that horrid looking TMNT sequel at any rate.
THE LOBSTER (2015)
Played incredibly dry and straight, an absurdist black comedy about a hotel where single people are forced to find a mate or else be transformed into an animal of their choosing. Leans very hard into awkwardness in a way that’s fascinating to watch, as the dialogue plays as a very direct, blunt link to the thoughts and feelings of the characters as they try to navigate the inflated obtuse logic and rules of courtship, dating and relationships. A wonderfully odd look at what we consider to be desirable traits in a partner, and the strange lengths people are willing to transmute themselves in order to fit in with other peoples’ expectations.
Highly recommended. Make it a date movie for some weird/possibly uncomfortable conversations afterwards.
Drowning in utterly gorgeous cinematography, bolstered by pitch-perfect casting and thick period-piece grimy atmosphere, Fassbender gives perhaps the new definitive cinematic performance of one of Shakespeare’s greats. Mythic and surreal in its vision, beautiful in its execution, I would hope to see more of the Bard’s works given such treatment.
GODS OF EGYPT (2016)
CGI slugfest based in an over-the-top Egypt that never existed boasts some of the most inconsistent VFX work in recent memory and a distractingly whitewashed cast. Gerard Butler doesn’t even bother to drop his Scottish accent, there’s a metric fucktonne of unnecessarily exploding debris and particle effects, some kind-of-cool design elements made utterly boring by overuse and weird context, fight sequences that would have been mocked if they were half-assed into a PS3 game, Geoffrey Rush’s laughably bad “sun fire” effect as Ra and a way-better-than-this-dreck Chadwick Boseman playing on that weird camp=intellectual trope that I never really understood. It’s a freaking trainwreck of conflicting, rushed ideas but I was drinking beer throughout and was mildly entertained by its lame badness.
Probably wouldn’t pay to see it though.
Key & Peele step off their brilliant sketch show and a huge slew of guest appearances into their own ridiculous action feature with hilarious results. In lesser hands the running gag of two very “white” suburban black dudes trying to act “street” to infiltrate a criminal gang and retrieve a kitten (voiced briefly by Keanu Reeves himself) would come across as rote and middling but the two of them have such fantastic comedic timing that there’s barely a flat gag in the whole thing. The sequences where Key explains the appeal of Wham! to a handful of crims in his wife’s SUV and Peele photographs Keanu into famous movie dioramas for a calendar are pretty much worth the price of admission alone, and the action is great.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
Y’know, I was ready to hate on this because I’m not a fan of Singer’s take on the characters and don’t think he directs especially well, and the trailers made it look hokey as all hells. But I mostly found it entertaining. But both of my points totally stand – his take on the X-Men is at best rushed and at worst kinda cheesy in a sterile, overdesigned sort of way. He can’t direct action for the life of him and despite Oscar Isaacs doing a killer job under a really stupid costume all the good favour and promise built up in the first half of the film just falls apart when it comes to digital spectacle without a bystander in sight. When cities are being levelled around the globe we never see a single reaction from anyone, which makes it all fairly hollow and cold.
There’s an absolutely fantastic Quicksilver slo-mo sequence that jars the tone around it to no end and would be better off in another, separate film. For the most part the cast is likeable but ultimately wasted, much like the supposedly 80s backdrop which is barely relevant at all other than to place this 10 years after the last film while not aging any character a week.