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Midnight Mass (2021)
Decent Start. Atrocious Ending.
The start of the show was fine. Pretty good even. Maybe a little predictable though.
Then episode 6 starts and the show flies off a cliff. Absolutely ridiculous actions, characters behaving completely unbelievably, and almost every generic, woke, cliche you could imagine.
There's nothing wrong with being slow and ponderous if you have something good to deliver to your audience. But this is not worth it.
A mismatch of stolen ideas from Stephen King works (the small island community - Storm of the Century and others; focus on a church leader - Revival; a crazy religious lady that everyone comes to follow - The Mist). It's like Flanagan had a good idea but no idea how to turn that idea into a coherent story with a good ending, so he stole.
A Score to Settle (2019)
Typical 2000's Nic Cage Film
Film tries to be deep and clever with a "plot twist" that anyone with eyes sees coming from a mile away. Cliches of course abound, so expect to see all the generic quotes and tropes you've seen/ heard before. The only twist being that this film blurs the genres of films it steals it's quotes from.
All of this said is it a terrible film? No. It's ok. Just about. Watchable if you're not really paying attention.
Also, whatever you do, don't question the timelines, e.g. how a young adult can go to jail for 19 years but come out an old man.
Anyway, the terrible cliches, inconsistencies in timelines (forcibly injected so the characters fit the proper cliches), and a pretty average script let this film down.
The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey (2016)
Biased and Unscientific, But Interesting for the Unfamiliar
When I started watching this documentary and they were listing off the long line of tenured experts they had working this case, I was immensely excited. I thought for sure this investigation was going to be excellent and lead to a legitimate solving of the Jonbenet mystery.
Almost immediately, however, all scientific practice was thrown out of the window.
One of the first studies they do is a deconstruction of the 911 call - specifically six seconds after the caller thought they'd hung up. During this six seconds background noises and maybe voices are caught. The team uses noise reduction and other techniques to the to isolate these noises.
Unfortunately, these techniques fail to reveal anything other than a faint possibility that words may be being spoken, however, the experts not only conclude that the noises they are hearing ARE words but they conveniently determine the words being spoken are damnifying of the Ramsey family. Anyone who is familiar with ghost hunting shows and their analysis of EVPs will understand how this is a misleading biased practice, and totally anti-science.
Ultimately, this is just one example of the many many MANY other instances of outright bias, poor science, and or leading that the team engages in. Other examples include leading witnesses with emotional questions instead of matter of fact questions, emphasising anything that suits their narrative while down playing findings that don't, completely unscientific "experiments", and overall the experts trying to involve themselves as hero's or main characters in a drama - instead of remaining as unbiased observers as scientists should be.
Overall, if you know nothing about the case and don't mind scientific practice being completely ignored and extreme bias, this miniseries IS interesting. However, it is also very flawed and not worth viewing for people with knowledge of the case or people who can't stand bad science.
Castle Rock (2018)
Not Terrible But Confused
This is not a terrible show, but it is certainly confused as to what it wants to be. Is it a reinterpretation of Stephen King's Castle Rock for casual. viewers or a faithful addition to the lore for Constant Readers? Is it a one season show or multiple season show?
First off, the show confuses itself by intertwining some aspects of Castle Rock law, with references to Cujo etc. But doesn't incorporate the lore of other books, such as Needful Things - which is super important if you're going to have Alan Pangborn as main character.
This is very important as we know that Alan Pangborn is not only a hero but well versed in the mystery of Castle Rock - and so he shouldn't be so oblivious to the strange happenings that we see in the show Castle Rock. We also know that at the end of Needful Things Pangborn settles down with Polly Chalmers, but no reference to this is made. Finally, it seems that in this show Alan Pangborn is cast as a sort of evil character and not the good-hearted hero that we know from Needful Things, which in the end feels like character assassination.
So to emphasis, why did this show take such a conflicted approach to the lore? It should have decided to be a faithful interpretation for the Constant Reader or an entirely new reinterpretation for the casual viewer. In its current form it does neither.
Secondly, the show seems to be confused as to whether it wanted to be a one off season or a multiple season story. This is illustrated by the number of unanswered questions: What was the scream/ roar Pangborn hears when Young Henry Deaver reappears? What was the purpose of the soundproof room Adult Henry Deaver is locked in - as well as the characters he encounters at the RV? Why did they present an entire episode trying to establish the Alternate Universe Henry Deaver as a regular guy lost in another universe, only to hard-handedly portray him as a demon in the final episode?
In regards to the Alternate Universe Henry Deaver it seems that they should have clarified his actual nature should this be a one season show. However, if this were to be a single season show, the episode desperately trying to portray him as a regular human mixed up in another universe, seems misleading and out of place.
Overall the show tries to whitewash these incongruities by passing them off as mysterious ambiguities that leaves the viewer guessing. But it fails in this attempt because it hasn't established enough of a coherent narrative that truly allows the viewer to make an educated decision. Instead we are left with conflicting evidence, plot pints, and lore that confuse the show instead of clarifying.
Ultimately, I believe these conflicting plot points and incongruities stem from the writers not knowing whether the show will continue in a second season (and therefore leaving some things unexplained) and whether the show is to be a faithful re-adaption of the Castle Rock universe. Because of these issues the show ends up being a conflicted mess. However, it is a watchable TV show and not the worst Stephen King adaption (by far).
Better planning in regards to the length of the show. And therefore what plots need to be discussed in which episodes/ seasons; as well as a definitive decision to be faithful to existing Castle Rock lore or a reinterpretation of Castle Rock, would have greatly enhanced the quality of this show.
Poor Logic, Generic Plot, Yet Atmosheric
So to start with positives, the acting in this film was decent. Adrien Brody's acting is talented and entertaining to watch. The atmosphere is interesting too, a lot like many other Australian films (particularly Till Human Voices Wake Us). It's hard to explain, rustic? Old- time-y? Either way, it's unusual and interesting to watch. Last positive, occasionally the movie has a very creepy element to it.
Now, the negatives.
The story, while new, still contains many of the generic elements of other horror films. Particularly those where the dead come back to revenge their deaths; a good guy is really the bad guy and a goodie confronts the baddie alone.... Only to be overcome. .
In addition to these completely predictable plot points the film also involves many illogical events. For example, the ghosts wanting the help of the main character but still scaring and attacking them (obviously so the viewer gets a jump scare).
Shortcoming number 2. It's stated that a coroner performed a report on all of the corpses from the accident. Yet the dad strangled the girl to death and any half decent coroner would notice this (plus the lack of bruises which would be present on someone killed by a freaking train crash would have to raise some eyebrows surely!). But of course this is conveniently overlooked/ missed to allow the plot twist.
Another shortcoming, the second brother commits suicide out of guilt because he believes it was his (and his brothers) bikes on the train track that caused the derailment. But when Adrien Brody's character confesses that he and his brothers bikes caused the derailment, the detective shrugs it off basically saying "Come on, two bikes didn't cause a train to derail. You know that." If it's that obvious (which it sort of is to the characters not being plagued by ghosts) then why would the brother commit suicide apart from helping to advance the plot??
One last shortcoming is the detective's realisation that the head of police is evil because his car was at the crime scene. She claims his car must have been there before the accident because the road was blocked by the derailed train...... As if he couldn't have possible driven his car around the train? People drive off-road all the time and the terrain was flat grassland.
Last irk, the coincidences of the story become pretty unbelievable towards the end. Specifically the synchronicity of all the events that occurred in the past and present. Daddy being in the same place as his children.
Ultimately, I've knocked this film quite a bit, but it's not that bad. The illogic and plot holes are quite blatant but overall it's still an unusually interesting film. The tone of the film is unique in an Australian way and the acting is mostly adequate (Brody is good). If you can look past the generic scares and plot twists it is an OK film to experience, like a creepy local urban legend.
This is NOT a Taken clone!
I felt compelled to write this review due to the poor representation this film has received so far.
Yes at one point in the film Nic Cage's daughter is kidnapped, that is where any similarity to Neeson's Taken ends. In fact there was only 3 or 4 excessive action scenes in the entire film.
Instead most of the film revolves around Nic's pursuit for knowledge regarding his daughters kidnapping. This pursuit involves his old cronies, all of which receive nicely fleshed out back stories. Honestly, there is so much more going on in this film than just a brainless action flick. Some great twists and emotional connections with the characters.
All of that said, though, I do have to admit Danny Glover's performance (the new whispering thing he's doing??) is pretty laughable, just like some of the decisions his character makes.
Other than that though this movie definitely involves you in its story quite well, definitely give it a watch!
Back in the Day (2014)
Very entertaining film, unlike the other generic films out there.
I had reservations heading into this film considering it's low score and lack of user reviews. In fact the lack of user reviews is what prompted me decide to write this, so that people had an idea what they were in for.
Obviously this movie isn't a big budget Hollywood comedy, however, it is far better than any generic comedy thrown your way this year. The film is filled with unique and original jokes that feel completely realistic as well as simultaneously unexpected and outrageous. The film really has an air of familiarity about it, you can really connect with the characters and goofs (despite some of the obvious clichés such as the arch nemesis Principal).
This isn't meant to be an extensive review and honestly I haven't really done that. But I do want to convey to anyone sitting on the fence - about whether or not to watch this film - that it is a thoroughly entertaining flick. Sort of like a more original, mature and actually watchable version of American Pie: Reunion, just without all the toilet humour and pointless gimmicks.... So actually nothing like AP:R at all.
Trust me, you will enjoy this film, give it a go and have fun!