Movie Review – Shanghai Fortress (Shànghǎi Bǎolěi, 上海堡垒)

TL;DR – There is an interesting concept here, but the film goes out of its way to make its characters come off as bland and one-note     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Shanghai Fortress (Shànghǎi Bǎolěi, 上海堡垒). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

It has been an interesting couple of years for the Alien Invasion genre after being almost abandoned in the years since September 11. Long gone were the triumphant speeches and bold proclamations and in were gritty scenes of dirt and muck. However, then there was a resurgence with different countries taking a look with Attack the Block in the UK and Occupation in Australia to name just two. Well, today we get to see China’s take on the global destruction masterpiece. But will it soar or will fall, only time will tell.    

So to set the scene, in the not too distant future the first manned Chinese space ship brought back a new energy source Xianteng that revolutionised the world. Everything was great but the energy source was like a beacon drawing the aliens to Earth. Starting with Rio de Janeiro the mothership moved across the planet, destroying city after city. In a last-ditch effort, the United Nations and what was left of the world’s government set up base in the last major centre Shanghai. Here they hope to make a last stand and maybe just maybe fight back and take back the planet before more cities like Los Angeles and New Delhi are turned to ash.

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TV Review – The I-Land

TL;DR – This is really a slow burn but then it grabs you as all the different parts start to merge together and you discover what is behind The Island and the number 39.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

One of my great joys is watching the TV Show Survivor where they throw a bunch of random people on an island and subject them to the elements and every puzzle under the Sun. It is such an interesting scenario, that I am surprised that we don’t see more people take advantage of it narratively. Well, today we get to look at a show that does just that, exploring a world where you can trust nothing and no one, not even what you can see with your own two eyes.  

So to set the scene, one morning you wake up, but you are not at home in your bed, you are on a beach lying in the sand with waves crashing into you. To add to this you cannot remember how you got there, or even who you are. As Chase (Natalie Martinez) tries to get her bearings she stumbles across KC (Kate Bosworth) and discovers that she is not alone. There are ten of them and no one can remember anything bar waking up on the beach. As they try to find something of their past lives, the reality of their situation dawns and soon the power politics show their heads and worse. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Kardec

TL;DR – A biopic that had a real chance of being something interesting that unfortunately could never quite stick the landing.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Kardec. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

For a while now in the evening before going to sleep I have been taking to watching a couple of episodes of Penn and Teller: Fool Us. Penn and Teller are American magicians and one of the many things they are known for is debunking a number of things including the techniques behind spiritualism and mentalism. It has been interesting getting little hints as to how some of these tricks are done, so when a biography of one of the key spiritualists in France dropped on Netflix I was really interested to see how it would go.

So to set the scene, it is the 1850s in Paris, France and Rivail (Leonardo Medeiros) is a professor and teacher. He is a man of reason of logic and takes deep offence when a priest bursts into his classroom to give the catechisms. The influence of Catholicism in the classroom is a deal-breaker for the teacher and he retires. Struggling to find work, he agrees to do some translating work and it is here that is he is drawn into the new fad exploding among the fringes and not so fringes of French society.

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Movie Review – Falling Inn Love

TL;DR – A really solid rom-com with a kiwi twist.   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Falling Inn Love. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

As time marches on there are three things that remain inevitable, death, taxes, and Netflix will drop another adorable romantic comedy on you when you least expect it. Now while we hope your day is not filled with the first two, the question that we will try to answer is if it should be filled with the third.

So to set the scene, Gabriela (Christina Milian) works in an investment firm in San Francisco and is getting ready for her first big pitch only to get stuffed over by her dude-frat-bro colleagues. Well, time to regroup, but then the company she works just collapsed and then she finally realised that her wanker of a boyfriend has severe commitment issues. Well time to smother your sorrows in ice cream and then sign up to what is clearly a scam to win an inn in New Zealand. Well surprise she won the inn, but like all things the profile pictures on the internet can be misleading.

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TV Review – Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls and PM Modi

TL;DR – This was such a surreal experience even if it might have been the most uncritical political interview I have seen in a while.  

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls and PM Modi. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review


It has been a long time since I have been able to catch an episode of Man Vs. Wild. Back in the day it was this weird yet deeply compelling story of Bear Grylls dropping himself into the wild (or apparently wild) locations and trying to survive by consuming some of his own urine. Well if anything is going to get me back into a show it is Bear Grylls going on a trip with the Indian Prime Minister.

I was wondering how if at all the show had changed over the years and in the first five minutes of the show Bear picks up and examines some elephant dung. So the more things change the more they stay the same. Over the years, there have been some contentions as to how staged the show is if at all. Well here when you have a world leader in a place that he could get killed by a tiger so there is no chance they would be allowed to walk around by themselves and I liked that they acknowledged that the Secret Service is around.

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TV Review – Hyperdrive: Season 1

TL;DR – This is part Fast and the Furious, part Ninja Warrior, part tyre-screech aficionado love letter. What a fantastic idea, however, to make an idea work you need execution and here is where it falls down.  

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Hyperdrive. Image Credit: Netlfix.

Review

Rarely in my life have I heard an idea that clicked as much as I did today “Ninja Warrior but with cars?” I mean just think of that and your mind is racing through all the possibilities. Indeed, watching that first episode it all started to click and then as that episode went on I started to notice things not quite coming together and as the rest of the season went on it was only compounded by one odd moment after another. So today we are going to have a look at a show where there is this interesting divide between ambition and execution.

Hyperdrive is a show all about putting the cars and the experts that drive them to the extremes. The drivers come from America, Brazil, Japan, and Europe and are absolute experts in their fields. Now before we move on I do want to say none of the critiques I have are for the drivers who are clearly doing an amazing job with what they have been given and are clearly skilled technicians and experts in their fields. Each round they go through a set of challenges like doing a reverse 360° turn in-between tight penalty pylons or drifting your car back and forth along the sides chicane trying to hit targets with the back end of your vehicle. All while wanting to be the fastest because if you are too slow you are eliminated. As far as a concept goes you have a winner here and there are a lot of touches that help add to this, like putting the commentary booth over the top of the finish line, or having the targets full of balls that fly out when they are hit, or the industrial setting that really gels with the aesthetic of the race. However, while there are these small touches and some interesting challenges it is soon clear that there are some things that just have not translated as well as they wanted.

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Movie Review – The Little Switzerland (La Pequeña Suiza)

TL;DR – A fun little film about small towns and that chaos they can cause for themselves.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene

The Little Switzerland (La Pequeña Suiza). Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Ah, small-town life. If there was ever a concept that can transcend language and culture it is the chaos that a small town can find itself in if properly motivated. Today we get to look at a film that has one of the more interesting setups that I have seen and uses it to tell a delightful story about what happens when many competing visions clash together.   

So to set the scene, we open in on the town of Tellería which is located in the Castile-León Automatous Community of Spain but they feel they should be in Basque given the vast majority of the town identifies that way. For years the town has campaigned for this and just when it looked like it would finally happen, politics above their heads means that they are stuck as part of a compromise. Well all is not completely lost, because on that same day as the great embarrassment, local son Gorka (Jon Plazaola), heritage specialist Yolanda (Maggie Civantos), and priest Don Anselmo (Secun de la Rosa) stumble across a secret tomb in the local church in it is the grave of the son of William Tell the famous Swiss hero and reveals that it is a lost Swiss Canton. Now, the town has an option because all of a sudden that is more Swiss than Spanish even though they are Basque.          

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