Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: Scream TV The Series Season 2

Title: Scream TV Series Season 2
Starring: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna
Language: English
Genre: Crime, Drama, Horror
Episodes: 13

Here we are again with another exciting season of MTV's Scream The TV Series. I hope you read that with as much sarcasm as possible. Let's not dwaddle too much with this introduction and just jump right into the synopsis and review, shall we?

Three months after the string of Lakewood murders, Emma returns home after being treated for PTSD. All seems to be normal for the Lakewood Six: Emma, Audrey, Noah, Brooke, Kieran, and Jake. Emma tries to resume her life at home and finds comfort in her boyfriend Kieran as she gets back in the groove of school with her friends. Despite things being resolved and the killer disposed of, Noah becomes obsessed with the case and theorizes that the killer had an accomplice, which makes things uneasy with Audrey. Emma notices Noah's murder board and sees something familiar from her dreams, so she decides to investigate with Brooke and ultimately triggers another string of murders with a new killer on the loose.

Obviously, I wasn't too thrilled about watching another season of Scream The TV Series. If you haven't read my review on the first season, I really think you should check it out before moving further. I'll try not to spoil anything from the first season, but there's no guarantee. So, if you haven't watched the first season, proceed with caution. Anyway, going into this new season, I wasn't expecting much improvement, but honestly I was a little curious where they were going to go with Audrey and the cliffhanger ending as she was one of the few characters I liked and found interesting in the show. I didn't really care what happened to the other characters or who this new killer was. Pretty much I had a pessimistic outlook going into the second season, but I would try my hardest to find some redeeming qualities and improvements. On the other hand, I wasn't going to hesitate on dropping the series if I still didn't like it.

In this second season, the show kinda offers two plot points that eventually merge into one major plot. When the show begins, we have the situation between Noah and Audrey where Noah is trying to figure out if and who the accomplice was in the last season and the obvious new killer stalking our Lakewood survivors. Like the previous season, I enjoyed watching Noah and Audrey. Since it was revealed that Audrey had connections to Piper, she has this dilemma of balancing this dual life. She tries to cover her tracks while at the same time trying to maintain her friendship with the group. Then there's Emma trying to adjust to life after therapy, which is...meh, but let's not get into that just yet. Let's start with the good points and improvements in the show. Obviously, I still enjoy the chemistry between Noah and Audrey. To me, I feel like majority of the character development lies with them, while everyone else is stagnate. Noah becomes more confident in himself outside of his podcast and his obsession with Brandon James and the events that occurred in the previous season. Honestly, I feel like the second season finally gave Noah his own character and distanced himself from Scream's horror fanatic Randy. With Audrey, ah, she's still my favorite character in the show. I feel like she slowly pushed Emma out of the spotlight as the main character, which made me excited for reasons that'll be mentioned later. There was a lot of focus on her in the premiere episode and just following her made me happy. Her character was not just placed in a box because of who she is and she deals with a lot demons that gradually reveal itself. Their journeys/plotline was the reason I really kept going. I wanted to know how the dynamics of their friendship would change for better and worse when Zoe entered Noah's life and Audrey's relationship with Piper was revealed.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Cry Baby (1990)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Ricki Lake, Amy Locane
Directed by: John Waters
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

When The Jerry Springer Show was a hot thing in the 90s, I was really into the Ricki Lake Show. It was my Maury for that time, along with Jenny Jones. I vaguely remember one evening at home that I saw the unimaginable: one of my favorite talk show hosts with one of my favorite actors in one movie that was a musical. Every time it came on, I tried to catch it from beginning to end. Recently, I simply wanted something light to watch to mix up all the bad horror movies and now I can share the good feelings this movie always leaft me with.

Allison is a "square" good girl who has decided she wants to be bad and falls hard for Cry-Baby Walker, a Greaser (or "Drape" in John Waters parlance). Spoofing Elvis movies and Juvenile Delinquency scare films of the '50s, this movie follows the adventures of Cry-Baby who, though he is sent to juvie, is determined to cross class (and taste) boundaries to get Allison back. [Source: IMDb]

When watching this DVD, it made me wonder if I've actually seen this from beginning to end and I just always caught this somewhere after the beginning or even in the middle. I also didn't realize how many memorable names were part of the cast such as Traci Lords and Iggy Pop. Then again, I didn't know who they were back then either. Cry Baby holds a small, but special place in my heart for somewhat obvious reasons. Watching it today, brings up some interesting and pleasant childhood memories. Pleasant because I miss staying up late to watch The Ricki Lake Show and seeing the crazy guests on there. Interesting because at the time my classmates were infatuated with a silly little movie called Grease. Every Friday night at my school's skating party, the girls would always request songs from the soundtrack and to this day, I still cannot stand Grease. Obviously, this movie is perfect for me as it parodies and kinda mocks it in an almost crass, but fun way a.k.a. the John Waters touch. Of course, back then, I also didn't know much about John Waters as I do now. Clearly, the little film knowledge I had as a child and pre-teen didn't lessen my enjoyment or love for this movie.

Cry Baby is a movie that satires and at the same time follows the tropes of movies that glorified the 50's (and probably movies of the 50's). The biggest comparison I can think of is what I've mentioned previously which is Grease. We have the good girl falling for the bad boy and wanting to do whatever it takes to steal his heart or just spend time with him and we have the bad boy who notices and wants to whisk her away, which I guess is a little different than Sandy and Danny in a way. Nonetheless, we have this preppy, rich lifestyle (the Squares) against this greaser, poor way of life (the Drapes) bumping heads over territory and love. Both groups have their own preconceived notions about the other, except our main characters Allison and Cry-Baby who see beyond the surface. For both of our main characters is another person trying to get their affection. Allison's admirer tries to keep her a good girl and sing clean cut songs for the people in the suburbs, while Cry-Baby's admirer is trying to be a down and dirty girl that's up for anything. Along with our admirers are the people that occupy these opposing worlds of our main characters. They really bring this universe to life and make things a little realistic. Allison's grandmother gives hope of change slowly but surely and the more she understands Allison's attraction and open mindedness, the more she loosens up, which provides some amusing moments. The Drapes provide the real color to the movie with their low class lifestyle, lewd music and dancing, and overall rebellious attitude toward the norm (a.k.a the Squares). They're not afraid to fight for what's right and defend one of their own, but they're also very accepting of Cry-Baby's love for Allison.

Despite Cry Baby not having the most memorable of soundtracks compared to Grease, it's still fairly enjoyable. From Allison singing with the Squares at a country club of sorts to Cry-Baby pleading behind bars to be free, these moments are entertaining and memorable to me and those who joined this movie's little cult following. I also felt like the choreography was full of energy, emotion, and fun. It really fit whatever tone the scene called for. If you're familiar with Grease and the 50's tropes and have a open sense of humor, then you'll understand what Mr. Waters was going for with this movie. It takes what we know and transform it into something we never would have imagine while making us laugh from beginning to end. The pacing is very smooth and the movie makes sure not to linger on one side or the other.

If you're looking for a fun musical with some crass humor that doesn't hold back, then Cry Baby is your movie. For someone who grew up being annoyed by the Grease trend, this made me feel right at home with the colorful and over the top characters. It mocks what I'm familiar with Sandy and Danny's relationship, but doesn't completely bad mouth the genre. It's funny, entertaining, colorful, and has a great cast of characters to keep you company.

Rating: 4/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: UnREAL Season 2

Title: UnREAL Season 2
Starring: Shiri Appleby, Constance Zimmer, Craig Bierko
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Episodes: 10

Lifetime has brought back the drama with another exciting season of UnREAL. After being introduced to the show by Ophelia, I was looking forward to seeing what crazy situations and dilemmas our cast of characters would get themselves tangled into. This time around, I was able to watch some of the episodes with Ophelia and share some fun commentary among ourselves.

After producing a surprising finale of "Everlasting", the stakes are higher for Rachel and Quinn to bring the ratings up a notch with their new season. Rachel makes a surprising pitch that has never been done before and presents the show's first African American suitor, a football star Darius Beck. Everything seems promising, especially when they cast a couple contestants with potential opposing views. When the new seasons begins to kick off, Chet enters the set and tries to spice up things with shameless eye candy and sex appeal.

First, I want to applaud the show's creators for this brilliant idea they've created. Not only does this show satire reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but also brings up the ugly truth on table and talks about controversial issues that people tend to avoid. This is also the closest we'll ever get to having an African American suitor on a show like this that isn't complete glorious trash like Flavor of Love. Now to focus on the review side of things. As I said before, I was looking forward to seeing how things would continue after the shocking finale of not only "Everlasting", but UnREAL itself. Of course, Rachel gets another chance at her career as producer, but in this season, it focuses more on her trying to find herself and her voice perhaps as not only a TV producer, but as a person as well. Rachel who is simply a great main character for a show like this deals with so much crap! She tries so hard to take charge, be her own person, and find someone who could mend the many wounds she's received over the years. She is constantly dealing with the consequences of her actions from the first season from the incident with Mary to her relationship with Jeremy. On top of that, she has deal with a new problem in the form of Coleman. Quinn continues to be a good, but not always ethical friend and at times mother figure to Rachel. She's still very controlling and wants her vision as well as Rachel's to come true and become successful. But in this season, we get explore a new side of Quinn that the first season didn't delve into. She wants to find true love herself; something that Chet failed to provide her in the first season and that made me like her just a little more. Obviously, the contestants on Everlasting present some great diversity and conflicts for each other, the suitor, and even our crew.

Along with the entertaining cast of characters, this second season does not hold back with the drama. With a show like "Everlasting", drama is required, especially if you want high ratings. From the girl who wore the Confederate flag bikini facing off with the African American activist to the girl who wants to be far away from football related things because of her father, there is an abundance of conflict for our fictional "Everlasting" viewers. With the crew, we have Rachel and Coleman trying to bring out the truth of "Everlasting" while gaining some positive recognition. Quinn tries to instill her vision of storybook/fairy tale love to the show, while also discovering that she wants love as well as being successful. Beneath that hard exterior, there is a hidden need to feel love and to give love. When reality and unreality collide, that's when things get really crazy! This season doesn't just tackle the controversies in reality TV, but in real life as well. I've already mentioned one of the contestants being an activist and the contestant who wore a Confederate flag bikini, but Rachel and Coleman took a huge risk in one episode. Darius, his best friend, and I believe a couple contestants decide to borrow the show's car to go on a little ride. Rachel decides to call the police and report the car stolen, then runs off with Coleman and a camera to film the results. This episode was a big game changer! It was so big that they had to put an advisory before the episode ran. In short, there are some racial issues they briefly talk about and they handle this subject matter very well.

Much like the first season, UnREAL continues to present quality, immersive drama that'll make your jaw drop. Watching the character development of our original cast along with new characters is still very entertaining and ultimately satisfying. I was very shocked and pleased that this latest season tackled some new controversial topics and did it with care. The finale was sweet and unexpected and I am extremely pumped for another wild ride with Rachel, Quinn, Chet, and Jeremy on "Everlasting".

Rating: 4.5/5

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: The Conjuring 2

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Madison Wolfe
Directed by: James Wan
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours 14 minutes

I've shortly expressed my love for James Wan and hopefully one day, I'll express a little bit more of that love to you guys. Nonetheless, it's probably no surprise that I was going to see this movie, because I loved The Conjuring so much. Hopefully, Ophelia will feel the same when she gets around to seeing it herself.

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren travel to London, England, where single mother Peggy Hodgson believes that something evil is in her home. When Peggy's youngest daughter starts showing signs of demonic possession, Ed and Lorraine attempt to help the besieged girl, only to find themselves targeted by the malicious spirits. [Source: IMDb]

After the success of The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2, I heard this absurd announcement from Mr. Wan that he would be stepping away from horror and pursuing other genres by starting with Furious 7. While I'm all for exploring your skills, as it's something I plan on doing with my own work, I feared that I would never see that passion and care that I fell in with ever again. James Wan was the first director in this new generation of horror to restore my faith in the genre. It gave me hope and inspiration! When I saw that he was returning for a sequel, I was beyond excited! Once it was released in theaters, it was mandatory for me to see this as soon as possible. So, what did I think of this second installment?

Similar to The Conjuring, we get a nice, short introduction story that somewhat leads to the main plot that we'll be following more thoroughly. In the first movie, we were introduced to Annabelle and in the second, we get a sample of the Amityville murders. Now, I remember hearing that this movie would be covering Amityville and had a tiny concern that it would be focusing its story on that. While I wouldn't mind seeing Wan's take on it, I would've preferred to take my own time to watch the movie that already exists instead...as I've actually never seen it. Fortunately, the movie focuses on a similar case with the Hodgson family in London. The story did a fantastic job tying in both of these small and large plots together and developing them to an effective resolution for our characters. While Amityville caused Lorraine to rethink her "gift" and relationship with her family, the Hodgsons reminded her that her abilities could be used for comfort and security for not only their clients but for herself. The story also does a great job of balancing the internal dilemma Lorraine is dealing with her profession and fame with her husband and the paranormal situation the Hodgson family is dealing with. The pacing remains steady and every moment of suspense usually leads to a satisfying payoff. In short, Mr. Wan does not hold back with his storytelling and effective and pleasing visuals. There's plenty of great suspenseful moments that kept me on the edge of my seat just waiting for something to happen. There were some pretty good scares that both made me hide a little in my nachos or amused me.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson's chemistry remain intact from the first installment. Watching them work together is very endearing and I love watching them work together on a case. Ed is very supportive of his wife and doesn't pressure her to do anything that makes her feel stressed or uncomfortable. He constantly offers to back out of the Hodgson case and also offers himself to take some of the burden off her shoulders with his own abilities. Lorraine doesn't try to hide her weakness and when she tries to brush it off or ignore it, eventually she does either confront it herself or open up to her husband. She also tries to maintain the balance of their partnership, while genuinely making a connection with the Hodgson children. The Hodgson family was quite enjoyable to watch as well. I believe they reacted surprisingly logically. They did fall into the usual cliches from time to time that makes you want to yell at them, but for the most part, they got out the house, tried to find help, and overall resolve their unusual situation. The supporting characters also moved the story along as much as our main cast of characters. The Hodgson's neighbors were very helpful and expressed genuine care for their situation and the people helping the Warrens with deciphering whether the case was real or not presented a realistic conflict of interest.

As much as I loved this movie to tears, I can admit that there were some flaws or things I didn't enjoy. Since I finally made time to watch all three installments of Insidious, which I have in queue to review, there were moments that felt more like an Insidious movie than a Conjuring one. There were similar techniques and visuals that I kinda remember from the first chapter that I think appear with Lorraine and the nun. Somewhere toward the end seemed to fall apart in quality, but it didn't completely ruin the flow of the story. Sure, it dragged a little bit, but for the most part, I was still very invested in the Warrens' case and I wanted the Hodgson family to find some peace in their home with each other. Lastly, certain elements that dealt with the demonic being were slightly disappointing or just kinda random. Tiny gripe from a Degrassi fan, but I wish there was more Shannon Kook.

Nonetheless, The Conjuring 2 thoroughly satisfied my hunger for inspirational horror. James Wan hasn't lost his touch for providing an immersive universe with likable characters and super effective suspense. The visuals were eerie and appropriate and the soundtrack complimented every visual piece presented to us. While I wish a scene or two were cut a bit shorter and the blur of Insidious elements didn't leak into this story, I still found myself enjoying this roller coaster ride of paranormal, religion, and, I have to say it, relationship goals. I'm looking forward to owning this one and rewatching it along with the first movie. I really hope that James Wan doesn't stray too far from horror, because he's really good at it. Since reading it on Wikipedia, I am curious what they have in store for The Nun, which is a spin-off to this movie similar to Annabelle. Although, I think this spin-off is unnecessary, I'll most likely check it out anyway.

Rating: 4/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Cube 2: Hypercube

Starring: Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn DAvies, Grace Lynn Kung
Directed by: Andrzej Sekula
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

After finding out there was more to Cube, I desperately needed to delve further into this mysterious purpose. The first movie got me thinking and apparently audiences and myself craving more. We wanted answers! For me, I hoped this sequel would offer more to this interesting universe.

Eight strangers find themselves waking up in a strange cube-shaped room with no recollection of how they came to be there. Soon discovering that they're in a strange fourth dimension where our laws of physics don't apply, they have to unravel the secrets of the "hypercube" in order to survive. [Source: IMDb]

Usually with sequels, the director or whoever pulls the strings wants to make things bigger and flashier. They usually want to add extra to the story and tend to go overboard with the good points of the first movie. Well, this second installment does just that. It's definitely a "hypercube". In Cube, the cube is just one giant entity that rotates from time to time. In this sequel, it is a cube made of smaller cubes that defy the laws of physics and manipulates time. This cube inside a cube [or cube-ception] presents an even bigger challenge for our group of characters to solve. While at first it seems like they figured out a solution, another obstacle comes into play and this happens more than once. Along with these obstacles, a couple strange things occur which feature a gravity defying sex scene, something to do with a tesseract with no Loki included, and a parallel universe. It's...interesting.

Much like the first movie, I did enjoy the array of characters and what they brought to the table. They did answer a couple questions about the cube's existence, but still kept things very ambiguous. On the other hand, roughly half of these characters are either annoying or useless. Sure, there were at least a couple characters in our group of unfortunates that I enjoyed, but the first batch had more balance. Less is more, in other words. Along with that reasoning were the traps and bloody visuals. I'm sure one element of Cube that most people enjoyed were the traps. So, it was obvious that they would amp up the torture. With a little extra budget, it was bound to get a little crazy.

While it sounds like I didn't enjoy this second installment, let me surprise you by saying that I actually wanted more and was happy that I had one more movie to go. Yes, less is more, but I understand what they were trying to go for. Cube was a great and unique idea that didn't give much of an explanation; by upping the stakes, you kinda want to know more about why this is happening to seemingly innocent people. Cube 2: Hypercube attempts to ramp up the threat and throw in some next level curve balls to throw not only the characters off, but the viewers as well. It was admittedly a bold attempt to keep audiences hooked, but the extra features seemed a little too ambitious. Nonetheless, the science fiction elements make things exciting and the curiosity keeps you going.

Rating: 3.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Quick Anime Review

Assassination Classroom Season 2 (2016) | Rating: 4.5/5

Assassination Classroom easily became one of my favorite series of 2015 and naturally, I was excited about delving deeper with the second season. Along with watching the show, I've also been reading the manga which is mostly the same thing with a few additional storylines. Overall, they're both equally enjoyable. Of course, the publication release in the U.S. is behind compared to the show and I assume that in Japan, they're done publishing the series, but I could be wrong. Anyway, jumping into this second season and eventually finding out that this would be the final installment meant that I would find out the answer of whether they would find some way to keep Koro-sensei alive or successfully assassinate him and claim the reward money. I came to these conclusions, and mostly leaned toward trying to save him, because these students were becoming more and more attached to Koro-sensei. It was kinda predictable. Fortunately, the actual conclusion wasn't as predictable and disappointing as some would think. Throughout each episode, they managed to keep things exciting while adding a few curve balls here and there. I was very satisfied with the final few episodes and admittedly got a little misty eyed. In short, this was a very successful second season and I'm looking forward reliving and expanding this universe through the manga.

Kiznaiver (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

Brought to you by the studio who made you crazy about Kill la Kill is the bright and vivid world of Kiznaiver. A few reasons I wanted to check out this show were the visuals, plot, and its association with the hit anime series Kill la Kill, despite me not seeing the show just yet. It is on my to watch list on MAL though. Anyway, this series started off with some promise as we were introduced to each character and exploring their secrets to bring not only the cast together, but the viewers to them as well. Unfortunately, after a couple or so episodes, the plot became a bit...convoluted. Sure, some episodes shined by utilizing these secrets and creating situations for the group to bond, but when the story wanted to focus more on Katsuhira and his blurry past, the story was slowly falling apart. For the most part, I tried to ignore the poorly executed Katsuhira/Noriko history and remember how much I enjoy the rest of the cast and their interactions. While the story wasn't completely terrible, it just did a better job focusing on them being kiznaivers and learning about each other as friends. I guess putting the character with no emotion and barely a personality who's interested in a person with those similar traits was not the best thing to spotlight. Nonetheless, I don't regret watching this show as I did enjoy the varying personalities and the conflict among their quirky differences. Mostly, I just wish it was a little better with handling Katsuhira and the background of the kiznaiver project.

Noblesse: Awakening (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

After watching Noblesse: The Beginning of Destruction, I was curious to see what was in store for Cadis Etrama di Raizel. After 820 years of sleep, Raizel has to adjust to the present day and reunites with his assistant Frankenstein in an academy. His new human classmates are very welcoming of his arrival and he slowly learns how to live in this new world. I enjoyed watching their interactions and their bond seemed believable. So, when his classmates get into trouble with a group called Unions, Raizel doesn't hesitate to put his life on the line and teach them what it takes to be a true Noblesse. Surprisingly, when I watched this, I expected to be hearing this ONA in Korean like the prequel, but it was in Japanese. At times, it seemed a little strange as I'm not sure if it was originally in Korean or not, but overall I didn't have any problems with this transition. The animation remained gorgeous and the action was very satisfying and exciting. Once again, I wish there was more adventures to be seen with Raizel and Frankenstein and maybe the creator(s) will animate more.

UN-GO (2011) | Rating: 3/5

Since I have this anime rotation that I stick to to get through series, I was looking for a good short mystery to potentially get into. I'm not sure how I came across this title, but all I can think of was a possible wig purchase on eBay for Inga's cool lavender hairstyle. When I first started, I was ready for some fun mystery adventures and what I got wasn't an in your face, super involved show compared to my two favorites Detective Conan and Monster. Instead, what I was given was a supernatural experience with some mysteries to build up the "Defeated Detective" Shinjurou Yuuki's reputation and perhaps confidence in his abilities. While I admit I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to join solving the cases with the main cast, there was another mystery that I was dying to know which is the origins of Inga and his (or her) relationship with Shinjurou. Perhaps I would've enjoyed this show more if I was more familiar with Sakaguchi Ango's novel Meiji Kaika Ango Torimonocho, which is the source material for the show. Once I was done with the show, I checked out the prequel UN-GO: Inga-ron which answers a good portion of my questions about Shinjurou and Inga. In fact, I think I found it a little more interesting than the series. This wasn't a terrible show and I would recommend it, but it'll be difficult to really immerse yourself in the mystery solving, at least it did for me.

Under the Dog (2016) | Rating: 1.5/5

The description provided by MAL of the show sounded very interesting. I was expecting some great visuals and plenty of action to keep me glued to the screen. Unfortunately, the story lacked substance. The synopsis provided more depth and explanation than the actual story and I'm glad I read that before jumping into it. Although, the last time I read it was when I added it before the summer anime season began, so I completely forgot the premise and only remembered my impression of reading it. There's lots of explosions, chase scenes, baddies, and even an intimidating monster. I'm all for evil organizations, terrorist attacks, and protecting the "target", but the show doesn't offer much reason as to why this person is so important, how our main character and her family are involved in this organization, what the organization's purpose is, or any character depth. You're purely guessing on what the heck is going on. By the time the OVA ends and the massive credits appear, you have no idea what you just watched, let alone a reason to care about what happened to these characters. I am very disappointed as there was some potential hidden in this short time length. Perhaps if it was a series, things would be explained better. Obviously, there are better action anime out there in the summer season, so don't waste your time with this one.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: Preacher Season 1

Title: Preacher Season 1
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga
Language: English
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Episodes: 10

As I wait for the second season of Fear the Walking Dead resumes and the new season of The Walking Dead to answer some much anticipated questions, I saw the previews for another comic book adaptation. It looked fairly interesting and I was hoping to check this out, along with Robert Kirkman's Outcast...which I sadly can't watch at the moment.

What if an angel and a demon procreate? What would that offspring be? Would it be holy or demonic or both? Preacher Is that tale. The offspring has no body, just a soul. That soul needs a body and chose Jesse. A preacher from Texas with a loss of faith and a drinking problem. The offspring called Genesis bonds with Jesse giving him the word of God. What he says is done. [Source: IMDb]

In the past few months, I've been really getting myself involved with comic books and graphic novels. I've always wanted to try my hand at them with all the comic cinematic universes cashing their large checks these past few years. The Walking Dead was my gateway into stepping my foot in the right direction and eventually I've expanded more and more. There's a strong possibility I might delve further into this journey, but for now, I want to lead into my journey of trying to watch as many adaptations from comics and graphic novels as possible, especially on television. AMC is a channel I mostly depend on to get my walker fix with Ophelia, with a little dash of House vs. Loki. So, I was eager to find out what the hype was about with this new series.

Upon the first watch of the first episode, I had no idea what I just witnessed then. I was a little confused on what was going on, but pretty much it was a slightly hasty introduction to some key characters. These introductions ranged from complex to intriguing to totally weird wtf!? After that, I watched Talking Preacher to possibly get a better understanding of what I just saw and admittedly I wasn't super hooked just yet. Nonetheless, I was still very much interested in checking out more and proceeded to rewatch the first episode and the episodes to follow. For me, Preacher is kinda one of those shows you have to pay attention to to understand all the various character connections. So, a lot of the time I would watch each episode twice. It didn't take long for me to become invested in Jesse's struggle to find his purpose and ultimately God as well as bond with his new and old companions, Tulip and Cassidy.

What the first season of Preacher presents is a great exploration of our unique cast of characters. It offers its viewers just enough insight and background on them to provoke some sort of feelings for each character introduced. This is very good for viewers, like myself, who aren't familiar with Jesse's world and the people he encounters throughout his daily life in Annville. For fans of the comic, they get a little extra information that will eventually tie into the next season. Jesse Custer is no ordinary preacher. When you think of preachers, you think of someone who's clean cut and very in touch with the Lord, but Jesse is very human. He constantly ponders his purpose in life and whether he could reconnect and/or maintain some sort of relationship with God as well as the people around. He has many flaws, but remains charming. Really, I think of him as somewhat of an anti-hero. Cassidy presents his own set of charms and pretty much lives life by his own rules with no sense of mortality. He's very blunt, but loyal and he's easily a likable character as well. Tulip, the character that easily won my heart, embodies what a real strong female character is. She's passionate, outspoken, and has a strong sense of determination. She's a bit guarded with her feelings at times, but when it seems appropriate, she'll open up without holding back. Their chemistry as a trio, and even as a duo, gave me life, especially Jesse and Tulip. As for the supporting cast, from the angels DeBlanc and Fiore to Eugene (a.k.a. Arseface) to Emily, they all brought something special to the show and successfully developed our main threesome to having me wanting more. In short, the acting was fantastic and they did an amazing job with casting.

As for the story, it took me a while to really get invested. As I mentioned before, every episode I had to watch twice as it felt like I missed something important, which is probably true. Preacher is kinda one of those shows you have to give 95% of your attention to to understand all the supernatural happenings and conflicts among our diverse cast of characters. This isn't a complaint about the storytelling at all, because it is mostly well executed. I enjoyed watching the backstory of Jesse, Tulip, and Arseface with his father. Watching Jesse interact and struggle with his congregation was a fun experience, especially during the finale. DeBlanc and Fiore added more unfortunate and entertaining shenanigans to the table and offered some explanation of what was going on with Jesse and the mysterious entity named Genesis. I will admit that there are a couple pacing issues, but for the most part, the content keeps you engaged as you're trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Lastly, the finale was extremely satisfying and I'm looking forward to watching the second season with Ophelia. At the same time, it also got me excited to delve into the comic book.

As I write this review, I have completed reading the first book and I can say that I appreciate the approach they took with the first season of the show. Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg mentioned on Talking Dead that they decided to take a prequel route with the TV series to offer some explanation and context to what's to come in the following season and the beginning of the source's story. From what I read in the first book, it does offer some explanation to some of the characters' background, but for the most part, it glosses over what happened in Annville and DeBlanc and Fiore's involvement with the Cowboy. I thought this was a bold choice, but they did a fantastic job with what they were given. Until the second season begins, I shall keep reading for sure. I'm seriously looking forward to what elements will be brought to life from the comic book and how far they're going to go with it. Preacher was a successful distraction from the long The Walking Dead break and I can see it reaching the same amount of success as well.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Quick Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

It's no surprise that I was going to continue with this wonderful revival in the X-Men franchise, especially since I thoroughly enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past. Seeing this new threat to our mutants presented a lot of excitement for me, since he is apparently the first mutant in existence. Also, I was looking forward to seeing new mutants or their younger versions on the screen, especially Olivia Munn's portrayal of Psylocke. Going into this movie, I heard lots of mix reviews and I was a little concerned, but at the same time I was not very surprised by it. There were a lot of extra characters in this movie and some of them seemed to have no purpose in my eyes, especially that cameo. The story had a really interesting premise and trying to connect these younger counterparts to their adult actors from the past was a fun thing for me, but there were certain elements of said interesting story that didn't get executed as well as I hoped. I think most complaints had to deal with the villain himself, which I had after much contemplation. He seemed like an amazing threat to our group of mutants, but he kinda let me down with his power and slightly his appearance. Nonetheless, I feel like Magneto has undergone a well developed transformation over the past three movies. In short, this wasn't a terrible movie at all, just a little disappointing in certain areas. My enjoyment for these younger versions still continued to grow and the premise had some promising potential, but I sadly must admit that this is definitely the weakest installment with our new generation of actors.

The Witch (2015, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

When I saw the previews to this movie, it looked admittedly not so good. I originally had no plans on seeing it, until I heard the surprising praise for this movie. Curiosity got to me and I had to check it out, but I wasn't rushing to see it in the theaters or anything. Once it was released on DVD, I was still a bit skeptical. Ophelia gave me her short opinion on the film while she was watching and there was a small glimmer of hope that it might actually be worth my time. It definitely is a slow burn of a movie and it's also a period piece, but the suspense and psychological elements kept me glued to the screen. By the end of the movie, I had no idea what just happened, but I wasn't upset that I watched it at all. It really was a pretty good movie and it was different than the jump scare, gore fest that some directors believe audiences want. Sometimes a good slow burn, suspense thriller is what we need in our lives and this satisfied those areas very well. Check it out if you're looking for something different in the horror genre.

The Other Side of the Door (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

Unlike The Witch, I think I actual did want to see this one in theaters and honestly I have no idea why. The premise is very blunt and the possible contents of this movie could easily be predicted with some key cliche knowledge. I'm glad I caught this on DVD as it really isn't theater worthy, but it wasn't terrible either. It does deserve a rental if The Witch is beyond your mental or aesthetic range. I've seen enough horror films with parents pining for their deceased children to only be punished by their mistakes of messing with the dead. I passively watched this from beginning to end, not really feeling too much for any of these characters, but I must admit that it did catch my attention toward the climax. I guess Sarah Wayne Callies learned a thing or two about parenting in a desperate and dangerous situation from her Walking Dead days.

The Legend of Tarzan (2016, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

I'm sure the reason behind seeing this movie is pretty obvious: I love Alexander Skarsgard! Aside from that, I was curious to see what they would do with the Tarzan story in this day and age. In a time where having an origin story is the norm, this movie did a good job balancing the main timeline while also giving us enough backstory that it didn't dwell on the past too much. The way the story is structured, it uses Tarzan's background to build on the present situation. I was surprised to see Samuel L. Jackson co-starring in this adventure adaptation and I know he's capable of keeping it tame for PG-13 movies, while still maintaining his comedic timing and charm. The story was rather standard with having the "white man/corporation" as the enemy, but changed its "damsel in distress" dynamic by making Jane be a fighter and being capable to handle her own mentally and physically. I didn't feel like she depended on Tarzan in the least, but that their relationship depended on balance from each other. I think they call this "#relationshipgoals". Anyway, I was impressed with the action and visuals of this adaptation, although I think The Jungle Book handled CG animals a little better. Nonetheless, it didn't take me out of the flow of this movie and my mom, my aunt, and I enjoyed what we saw. I'm kinda hoping I'll see more from this in the future.

Allegiant (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

After seeing Insurgent last year, I was looking forward to how the story would continue in this third (and should be final) installment. I had intentions of seeing it in the theater, but decided to let those intentions go as there was just way too many things coming out at the time that I was more excited about. By the time I watched it on DVD, I was happy that I didn't spend any money on it. It was sad to see that this movie took a few steps back to how I felt about Divergent. There were predictable plot points, disappointing deaths, shoehorned romantic gestures, and tons of lovely teen novel cliches that were better executed in the Hunger Games cinematic franchise. [I haven't read the books yet, so I can't compare there.] While some of the action was interesting, it didn't grab me as much as Insurgent. It also didn't help that the effects looked cheap. While prodding around IMDb, it seems like that's probably where unfortunately the budget went to and ultimately landed this third installment as a box office failure. I noticed the low rating on the site as well as the unhappy fans in the boards. Lastly, you may notice that I didn't call this movie "Allegiant Pt. 1", since I read that originally it was going to follow the lead of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight with its money hungry split finale. Well, they changed the name of the final part and plan on releasing it as a TV movie, considering it failed in the box office. For the sake of curiosity as well as the open ended, poorly executed cliffhanger conclusion, I'll most likely seek it out and learn how this all unfolds for the future city of Chicago.

If there's something you want me to review (or want a more in depth review of the movies above or previous ones), check out this post on how you can submit requests.