TV Review – The Orville: Ja’loja

TL;DR – This first episode was all about us getting back into the groove with The Orville and its juxtaposition of absurdity and sincerity, but not all of it works.  

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Orville: Ja'loja. Image Credit: Fox

Review

I finally got the chance to see Season One of The Orville early this year when it finally got a release down under, and I was struck by how funny and also how many serious issues it tackled. It was not just a Star Trek parody with the first officer and captain being exs, okay it is totally that, but it is also a beautiful sincere look at the work, with some fantastic characters and alien races. Now that Season Two is about to start, I am really interested to see how the show evolves going forward, and can it keep this interesting juxtaposition going.

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Movie Review – The Favourite

TL;DR – At times funny, at times perplexing, and at times very dark, it explores the world of immense power and those who want to obtain it, and the damage that can do.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

The Favourite. Image Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review

We live in a world where thanks to technology we can explore galaxies far away, to fantasies imagined in every which way, but sometimes reality can be stranger than anything we can muster. Today we are exploring a film that is set around the power politics of last years of the House of Stuart as different people position themselves in an ever-shifting world. This would be interesting enough in itself, but in both a less and in some cases more dramatic way this is what really happened (or at least what was alleged to have happened) in real life. It is a snapshot of absolute power, but also of sadness, and regret.

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Movie Review – Watson and Holmes

TL;DR – This is one of those films where you walk out thinking three things, 1) how dare you charge people money to see this, 2) I am embarrassed for everyone involved in the film & 3) how dare you charge people money to see this     

Score – 0 out of 5 stars

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

Watson and Holmes. Image Credit: Sony

Review

Sometimes you see a film and you have to wonder ‘how did this get greenlit’, like people paid over 40 million dollars to put this together, agents recommended this movie to their clients, and they even got Alan Menken to write a story. However, instead of being excited when every big name cast member walked onto the film, you felt sad, like ‘oh no, they dragged Hugh Laurie into this mess too.’ Why is that, well this is because this is the worst film I have seen all year, and since I am writing this on the 31st of December, I doubt that will be surpassed because this is also the worst film I have ever reviewed. Hey good news Pixels, you are not on the bottom anymore.   

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Movie Review – Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

TL;DR – While there is some clear potential in the interactive story model, my particular playthrough of Bandersnatch was less engrossing and for me more frustrating than anything else.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

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

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Black Mirror is a series that is always looking to be on the cutting edge of narrative storytelling. It twists worlds in on itself, leads the viewer down the garden path only to cut their legs out from underneath them, or destroys the nostalgia we have for the past, or indeed the hope we have for the future. So, when it dropped a couple of days ago that there would be a feature-length episode, well that was some interesting news, but then when it was announced that it would be a ‘chose your own adventure’ with multiple endings and user interaction, well this went from intriguing to must watch in a heartbeat. However, now that I have seen it I feel that maybe the idea did not match the execution. Also, because this is a chose your own adventure, it actually makes it difficult to review because my experience is going to be possibly a lot different to what yours will be. Maybe I just drew the short straw and hit all the frustrating options, maybe you’ll be luckier than me, which from the discussions on the internet might just be the case, I just simply do not know. Well with that in mind let’s take a dive into a world with multiple paths and endings.

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Movie Review – Bird Box

TL;DR – There are moments of real suspense, and Sandra Bullock is amazing, but the structure of the story holds it back by revealing its hand too soon.      

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

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

Bird Box. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

2018 has been a good year for the suspense thriller/ horror films, we have built on the strengths of 2017, a produced such amazing films as A Quiet Place (see review) and Cargo (see review). I bring A Quiet Place up because after the first few minutes you can tell that this is the film Bird Box is going to be compared to the most, and that is not entirely unfair. As they are both suspense post-apocalyptic films where you have to cover one of your senses to survive i.e. sound, or in this case sight. However, this was less the case of copying a more the case of producers seeing that suspense films are back (also they never left but that is an issue for another day) and optioning different books at around the same time. However, while it is a bit unfair to compare the two while watching you can’t help but do so, especially when the differences between the two are probably the reasons why I liked one more than the other.

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Movie Review – Roma

TL;DR – Delightful, heart-breaking, alienating, immersive, full of complicated people in complicated relationships, a film that I would recommend everyone to see.        

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

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

Roma. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There is always an interesting feeling when the credits start to roll and the world comes back into focus, and the wave of emotions that have built up over the last few hours comes crashing down. Do you realise that you just wasted the time on something with no substance, or did your whole world change whilst time stood still? Well, today we look at a film that falls more on the later side of that divide. A world where everything is right and normal, and it all can be pulled out from underneath you in a moment. A film that will stay with me for the weeks and months to come.

So to set the scene, we open in on 1970 Mexico City as Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) washes the tiles of the driveway of the house she works at. We watch as she gets the house ready for the day for her employers Sofía (Marina de Tavira), Antonio (Fernando Grediaga), and their children Paco (Carlos Peralta), Pepe (Marco Graf), Sofi (Daniela Demesa) and Adela (Nancy García García). Cleo is an indispensable part of the family, but then she is also not part of the family because she is a maid and this disconnect filters throughout the film. Things in the household shift when Antonio leaves for a conference in Canada and stays longer than planned, and when Cleo meets a man Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) and the tension under the surface of Mexico starts to rupture.

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Movie Review – Aquaman

TL;DR – Bombastic, silly, overly long, but still by far some of the best fun DC has made so far.    

 Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Aquaman. Image Credit: Warner Bothers.

Review

To say that the DC Expanded Universe has had a rough launch up to this point would be a bit of an understatement. Indeed, of all the past films, only Wonder Woman (see review) felt like a coherent film in any great sense. So, more than ever, the first film after Justice League had to hit the ground running, even more so after background conversations that the expanded universe was losing a lot of its big-name talent. Now while Aquaman is not a perfect film, it is a film with a lot of style, and more than most of the films that have come before it was just fun.

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Movie Review – Bumblebee

TL;DR – From start to end this film is just fun, with more humanity than the last films combined.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

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

Bumblebee. Image Credit: Paramount

Review

I have always had a difficult relationship with the Transformers films, at the start I was so glad to see them be brought to the big screen. But Transformers I failed to stick the landing, and every other film from then was well … okay, sorry, they are not great. Yes, you get the big fight scenes and explosions aplenty, but Michael Bay’s very particular style just did not match the franchise. All of this combined into The Last Night (see review) which was just painful to watch at times with its awfulness. With all of this, when they announced that they would be doing a spin-off prequel, I gave a sigh in exasperation, as the thought of sitting through a Transformers cinematic universe when it was being handled so poorly was not a great feeling. However, as more information was released, it became clear that this was going to be a different type of film, and after seeing it, I can tell you that this is the best Transformers live-action film to date.

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TV Review – Tidelands: Season One

TL;DR – This opener immediately drags you into a world of multiple factions that are all untrustworthy and makes you wonder who will you back?

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Tidelands. Image Credit: Netflix

Review

There is this surreal moment that, I assume if you lived in Vancouver or cities like that you would be used to, when you see someone drive down a street in a film and then instantly realise that you have driven there before. You know those cane fields, the factories, you know that bridge, that university hall. It has happened before with places I have visited overseas, but never here in Australia, and never with Brisbane playing Brisbane.However as a critic, this is potentially dangerous territory, do I like the show because it is good or because I have a natural drive to see the local film industry do well. However, with Netflix’s new show Tidelands, I don’t think this is the case, and as I review all of the first season I think you will see immediately if this is a show that you should dive into or not.     

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TV Review – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale

TL;DR – It emphasises the ‘things that go bump in the night’ theme of the show, but also some of its get out of jail free cards, for a mixed result.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale. Image Credit: Netflix

A Christmas special is a time honoured tradition of many shows, indeed when I was growing up we would always get this great Christmas in July moment because TV took about 6 months to get down under back then. With that in mind, and with the more schlocky nature of the TV show so far, it felt like this would be the perfect fit for Sabrina. With a Christmas but not themed show. But while it hits all those notes, I was left feeling all a bit meh at the end of the day.

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