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Star Wars Biomes (2021)
Not a single idea went into this - what a waste of time and potential
First - I like Star Wars, but I would not consider myself a real fan.
There are just too many crap ideas, failed executions and mediocre movies in the Star Wars saga to be raving fanboyish about everything coming from Disney.
But still - when I saw the ad for the Biomes "movie" I was thrilled - seeing the majestic landscapes of Hoth, etc in screensaver-mode sounded quite entertaining.
Man, was I wrong - those 18 minutes dragged on for ages... Why, you ask?
Because the makers did not have a single idea beyond the absolute minimum.
Hoth? Just snow and mountain ranges.
Tatooine? Just sandy dunes.
The water planet? Just waves.
The volcano thingy? Just the "castle" and lava streams.
What a bore...
No charming details, n-o-t-h-i-n-g!
When your boss hands over a whole galaxy of possibilities to you and all you come up with is... this?
Then you better look for a new job.
And yes - they integrated some scenes of the movies into the drone flights. But just the scenes you already know, like two droids wandering through the desert.
I saved you 18 minutes, you will be thanking me!
Spy City (2020)
Has potential, but unfortunately odd and unsympathetic
The show's idea is barely new - spy stories in cold war Berlin come by the dozen - but with a good cast and an interesting new take it could be right for me.
Unfortunately this show did not deliver.
I have seen the first episode only, but I do not have much hope for the rest of the season.
It looks good. But even this has some negative implications. The production tries to show cold war Berlin in every detail, eg furniture, clothing etc.
Using native actors eg for the german roles.
Non english speaker do often speak in the native language, with english subtitles. This is a relief from most US-productions is which everybody (but the Klingons) is supposed to speak english, even to other non-english speakers.
Soundtrack. Some strange choices - right in the opening scene the soundtrack is oddly unfitting the scene.
Insertion of historical videos. Several times scenes from the archives are used to set the scene in Berlin. Due to other technical standards back then they do look quite different. A choice often used in movie introductions, but spread over the whole episode it is a bit strange.
Cuts. There is a scene where 6 people sit around a table. Cut - there are only 3 left and it seems lots of time has passed. Why? How? What?
Looks. On one hand the production tries hard to be realistic in setting details, but on the other hand the protagonist heads towards a secret meeting in daylight wearing a fashionable suit and sunglasses in East-Berlin's working class district. That scene is laughable and makes no sense at all.
Pacing. The story's pacing is uneven and bumpy. It feels strange, like "not finished".
Characters. There is close to no connection to any of the characters, none of the cast is likeable. The protangist remains unsympathetic to a degree that I did not care about him at all. The actors are not really accountable for this, I think it is more bad direction and a bad script.
To sum it up:
The first episode of this show is maybe the strangest episode of all TV shows I've ever seen.
It just feels "off" and it does not get together at all.
Not worth your time, even if you are a fan of spy movies.
Overall ok, with the usual superhero-cringe
Starts quite promising, after blip heroes struggling to get back into the new world.
Some fun buddy-moments between the main characters. Unfortunately this gets mostly dropped after 2-3 episodes. Instead the storyline introduces more of the usual superhero-cringe gonzo that plagues most of the genre. I lost interest in the middle of episode 4 and it's unlikely that I will continue.
The narrative is more conservative than WandaVision, but they are similar in that they both fall apart and back to the basic genre tropes in their second half.
Performances are good, though Anthony Mackie tries to do the whole 6 episodes with just 1 facial expression.
One thing that really bugged me in this one is the use of actors that do not even slightly attempt to speak like their role would demand to.
Erin Kellyman speaks so broad british and this is so distracting from her role.
Also, even german Daniel Brühl was not allowed to pronounce "Dr. Nagel" correctly. Why using german names at all, if you refuse to use them properly?
Minor stuff, but still annoying.
If you are looking for something fresh and innovative like WandaVision (though it did not hold its promise after mid-season!) then you will need to give this a pass.
If you want a mediocre, gonzo supers-stuff narrative like from the nineties, but with the cgi-department from 2021, then give it a try.
Come True (2020)
Fascinating sound and cinematography - put the director on your watch-list!
This movie caught my by surprise: I did not expect such fascinating optics and such a great, perfectly synchronised soundtrack. And let's not forget abou the main actress - she delivers a flawless performance, like this role was written for her!
The dreamy, haunting atmosphere of the opening and most of the rest of the movie strongly reminds me of seventies movies like COMA or PHANTASM - an nearly empty urban world, full of brutalist buildings, neon light, ever present nostalgia and mysterious loneliness, that is never really fully explained.
There is just one scene that does not fit to the overall "feel" and it would have been better, if the club would have been left out.
The score reminded of BOARDS OF CANADA, though it's clearly not by them, it definitely support that 70ies melancholia that permeates the whole movie.
The movie is a slow-burn and it demands your patience and time, but for me, it worked quite well. The middle part unfortunately drags a bit, for a bit too long you don't exactly know where the movie is heading towards. A bit tighter editing would have been good.
Overall the movie has been a great surprise for me. It does not happen very often that, after finishing it, I look up the score, the director and the actress, just because it was so good!
More a mystery movie in the tradition of "Stay" than a real horror flic, but definitely something to watch out for!
Coming 2 America (2021)
Atrocious patch-up job - avoid at all costs
This collection a over-produced Tin-Tok scenes comes without any idea, any humour, not even a plot.
While the original movie had it's moments as harmless, feel-good comedy for families (although parts of its 80ies humour is barely watchable by today's standards), this is a sequel as unnecessary as it gets. No charm, no surprises or even a single good moment - you will be better off watching 90 minutes random TikTok clips.
Eddie Murphy at his worst and that is really saying something!
Good actors and some vibe of "Angel Heart"
This one surprised me a bit.
To put it straight: It's not the best movie ever, nor the most original.
But the performances by the lead actors were very good, I had to look both up and found out that I should've recognised them...
The plot had a similar mood to parts of Angel Heart - bad things things happening to everybody in the path of the main character - and took a few turns. I really liked it, well worth watching in times when there are so such many bad amateurish horror movies coming out. This is not one of them, this is a good one.
And yes - pacing is a bit slow, but that's called atmosphere, and it works!
Unbearable 80ies humor
I tried to watch the movie, but had to stop after 15 minutes in.
Can't remember the last time I was so embarrassed by infantile, misogynistic "humour" - must have been somewhere in the eighties I guess.
Coming from Germany I am kind of used to the bad quality of comedy movies from my country and it seems not only that Poland suffers from the same issues, but also is even more "behind" and stuck in outdated conception of gender, humour etc.
I am usually not too picky about that kind of thing, but watching this made me feel dirty.
3 stars for the glossy quality look and good camera work only.
After Episode 1: Annoying style-over-substance rehash of the movie
Unfortunately the creators of this show did right jump into all possible annoying stylistic sins of the early 2000s: Nervous jump-cuts, shaky close-ups, etcppp you name it. I wanted to like it, but was so put off that episode one will be my last one. Story-wise there was not much, neither wrong nor right, but the lead actress is no Jodie Foster, although she tries, but maybe too hard. Does not work. A pity.
Now the series finally jumped the shark...
The Servant was always walking (although vvveeerrrryyyy slowly) on the thin line of disbelieve.
That tense and tight promise of a great story, to unfold over the course of many (5?) seasons - many movies and series have failed to maintain that delicate balance of suspense over shorter periods of time.
But for "The Servant" this balance mattered even more, because other than that, the series has not much to offer - it's slow, sometimes even clumsy, and too many scenes to do not really make sense on their own... unless there is a brilliant, but yet not really revealed plot backing all this.
That basement scene had me in its first moments, but then it went on and on and on and while I was just thinking "Ok, I got your point", the scriptwriter's need to fill the runtime was prevailing.
Even this I could stand, but then that TV scene occurred and finally the series had me lost - that was epic level cringeworthy and again carried on for ages. This goes nowhere and it starts to clearly shows so - there will be more such moments, just because they need to bridge the runtime.
Brilliant production, leaves the main question unanswered: Why should you care?
Maybe this - more than many other TV/movie productions of lately - needs to be seen in context, as product of its time:
Global pandemic, global ecological crisis, the many social, political and economic uncertainties especially in the US... this may add up to a craving for certainties and assurance in the audience. What else then could be more comforting as a old fashioned sitcom, with old-school humor and recorded laughter?
I think this is the main appeal of the series, and my main reason for quitting it shortly after it had its premiere - I just think there are too many new shows and more exciting concepts out there than to bother with something that was artificially very well crafted and has a beautiful product, but in the end should have been a one-off Xmas Special, not a whole series. The charming ideas do not carry the weight of a whole season and my attention wandered off quite fast.
It's like re-watching The Munsters, or the 60ies Batman - but why should you?
For all those that desperately crave for old wine in new bottles - please go ahead.
For all others: Move along, there is nothing new to see here.
Strong first season, goes downhill from there
Like with Dexter one gets the impression that the first season was a direct adaption of a book and later seasons lack the quality of a proper template.
Season 1 is a classic L.A. crime story with a stubborn, not-always-by-the-rules- cop, played by Titus Welliver. While Titus has impressive voice and memorable amiable looks he manages to act through six seasons (as of today) with more or less one facial expression. Combine this with Lance Reddick as his boss, who is playing the same role over and over again since The Wire and also with 1-2 expressions and you have enough reason to get screen sick while watching several episodes of Bosch in a row.
Plot-wise the series drags out ok plots that would have been great for the average BBC crime runtime (4-6 long episodes), but - since they need to fill the gold standard of 10 episodes - tend to bore the viewer by adding too much filler scenes - season 6 has plenty of pointless scenes, e.g. where we watch Bosch typing in numbers into his PC which could have been done in a half the time at least. Character development is close to non-existent, maybe with the exception of Bosch's daughter.
I get the appeal of the series though - the L.A. setting works well and the lead actors are amiable and memorable (with the limitations I mentioned earlier).
But still the series is not that good nor cleverly written to justify its high ratings. Beyond the very good first season do not expect anything more but a mediocre, sometime even boring crime series.
Godfather of Harlem (2019)
Entertaining mob series, suffering from the Ellroy problem
"Another mob series?" you might ask - and you are exactly right.
This time, and this is more than a redeeming quality, it is told from a black people's POV. That's refreshing and was long overdue. The actors and most of the storyline so far (I am 8 episodes deep into season 1) are quite entertaining, but nothing really remarkable, but my previous point.
Coming from the never-ending Copolla/Scorsese take on the NY-mobster "story" I found it refreshing to get another, a new POV.
But it really suffers the "James Ellroy"-syndrom: The main characters and real events are so tightly interwoven in a way, that you get the feeling of 5 people changing the course of history over and over again and thereby stretching my suspension of disbelief too far. Less would have been more - the world's not that small and when I see the series main character getting into constant daily business with not only mobsters, but Cassius Clay, Bobby Robinson, Malcom X, etc I felt this is too much to take.
Still enjoying it, but it's not as great as it could have been.
The Equalizer 2 (2018)
Mess of a screenplay
I usually don't take the time to review movies, but The Equalizer 2 fell so short of my expectations from number 1 that I felt the urge to give people a fair warning.
Most if not all of the charme of the first instalment is gone or wasted.
The story is a huge mess, spread all over the place, with no clear direction or intention.
When things finally come together you very likely have already lost interest in it and its characters.
Denzel is good as usual, but even his charm cannot save the pasted-together and confusing screenplay.
One can watch it for the well-performed action scenes, but other than that it's very disappointing coming from chapter one.