Monday, November 21, 2016

Quick Television Review

Penny Dreadful Season 2 (10 episodes) | Status: Completed
Rating: 4/5

Originally, I was planning on giving this second season its own full length review like the first, but as time went on, my opinions started to fade little by little in my memory. I also kinda had a little less to say about this season. Much like the first season, I continued to be intrigued by our set of characters and was looking forward to certain characters improving since some last minute discoveries toward the end. With a new season comes new demons to conquer and face and there were plenty to keep me entertained. Vanessa taps into her past and the occult, which of course is the main focus of the season. This in turn ties into her relationship with Sir Malcolm, Ethan, and Dr. Frankenstein. Of course these characters have their own subplot of problems as well, along with Dorian Grey. While watching this series, I was hoping that the pacing would be a little better and it was, although there might've been some spots where it dragged. More importantly, it didn't feel like I was constantly waiting for something engaging or exciting to occur for several episodes. At the time I was watching this season, the third season was in the midst of airing and the unfortunate announcement of it concluding in the third season. I'm looking forward to more improvements with the story, pacing, and character development, but more importantly another engaging occult adventure with Vanessa and company.

Degrassi: Next Class Seasons 1-2 (20 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 4/5

Since the time of The N (now TeenNick/The Splat) and possibly before that name change, there was a little show called Degrassi: The Next Generation. This was a Canadian drama that dealt with typical teen situations that not only gave a social message, but entertained me (and my mom) with their colorful and diverse set of characters. When it was announced, I believe, last year that TeenNick would be airing its final season of the show, I felt completely lost. I practically grew up with this show and my mother loved watching it with me. Unfortunately, she hasn't seen some of the newer seasons after Emma's class graduated and some season of their college life was aired. Not too long after that, Netflix swoops in to save the day once again by picking up the show on its streaming service, while it continued to air in its native country of Canada. I actually kinda wanted to review the first season, right after watching it, but time went by and my memory of what I watched faded. Having a second season gives me a chance to redeem myself and comment on both seasons as a whole. Degrassi: Next Class picks up where we left off in the final season of Degrassi: The Next Generation ended, but also keeping with tradition of adding new characters and underclassmen. Per usual, the show upgrades its topics such as cyber bullying, infidelity, school violence, and feminism. While some of these approaches/plot points may teeter the lines of recycling, they still manage to be entertaining and easy to binge watch. I admit when both of these seasons appeared, I unintentionally watched every episode in one sitting. This new generation of students may not make a permanent spot in older fans' hearts like the original cast, but there are some I am very fond of and later on in the second season we do get some lovely cameos.

Mr. Robot Season 1 (10 episodes) | Status: Renewed
Rating: 4/5

I've heard nothing but good things about this show since it aired, but all this time, I had no idea what the show was even about. At first, I thought Rami Malek's character was a robot or something, but that isn't the case at all...kinda. His character is a bit robotic when it comes to emotions and social situations, but, in case you didn't know, it's about hacking. If you're familiar with Orphan Black's storytelling (or even Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), it's definitely a show that's hard to multi-task to. There's so many poignant dialogue and subtle actions that you have to take in to understand the overall picture such as Elliot's backstory and relationship with the people he decides to let be close to him. I can't see a lot of people getting into this show because of that demand of attention the show needs and perhaps even the high tech lingo and dark situations, but for me, the show has gradually held me and kept me wondering what's going to happen next, what's real and what isn't, or how they're going to pull off their hacking missions. After the twists and turns of the first season, I'm looking forward into diving into season two and anticipating what season three has to offer in 2017.

Flesh and Bone (8 episodes) | Status: Completed
Rating: 3.5/5

It's probably obvious to say that my workplace gets a lot of DVDs in and half the time I pick things that sound interesting (good or bad). Occasionally, I'll check out TV shows that I've never heard of as well and this is one of them. This mini-series aired on Starz and looking at the cover of the DVD, I thought it was a horror type show. Upon reading the description on the back of the case, I quickly learned that it was an unveiling of the cruel world of ballet; think Black Swan, but darker and more real. I remember skimming the comments of IMDb, after completing the show, and I saw that some people couldn't connect with the main character Claire, which I suppose I can understand to some extent. She's very...quiet and uncertain, but I think her uncertainty and trying to find her inner confidence was something I could connect to in some ways. Compared to the people around her, she isn't as colorful or aggressive, but she balances out that in her own world. While everyone is fighting against the world, Claire is constantly fighting with herself and I wished this miniseries gave me more to fully explore that turmoil and struggle a little longer, especially when her brother enters the picture. This series does a good job of balancing the beauty and perfection of ballet, while blending the drama and personal battle behind the scenes. It's just a shame that it was simply a one off miniseries.

Helix Seasons 1-2 (26 episodes) | Status: Cancelled
Rating: 3/5

This was another series I was originally planning on doing a full review for, but this time I simply changed my mind on doing it because I realized that I don't have a lot to least, I don't think I do. Getting into the first season was a somewhat slow process, but it wasn't a difficult one. The concept was interesting, albeit something that has been done before, but added a human layer beyond the obvious conflict of infection spreading: mysterious parental history, jealous brothers, and the usual romantic relationship conflicts. Even though there were elements of the story that were a bit difficult to follow due to either unclear dialogue or me trying to multitask, I was very curious where the story was going to go in this isolated land of ice and snow. There was enough action and character development to keep me invested and wanting more. The second takes a different route of going forwards and backwards with time, but also answers the question of what happened to our main cast of characters. This time the story not only focuses on the "disease", but we have a cult to deal with as well. The story does tend to be a little cluttered, drag, or become convoluted in places, but overall the action and characters kept me least the ones that carried over. Unfortunately, this aired on Syfy which is apparently notorious for not keeping its original series on air for long. Even though I had a few problems with the second season, the way it ended made me sad that there wasn't going to be a continuation.

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.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fair Shake Review: Mad Love. - Jojo

Mad Love. - Jojo
(Genre: Pop/R&B)

Jojo is a lady that I've always had an interest in way back when she told us it was "A Little Too Late" and to "Leave (Get Out)". But all puns aside, she definitely was one that captured my attention by being one of the first to appeal to both a black & white audience with the likes of Christina Aguilera at the time. As time went on, new music from this soulful singer became hard to find due to the Blackground label dispute. During that time, only if you were attentive you were able to catch her mixtapes, "Can't Take That Away from Me" & "Agape", and the "#LoveJo" EPs. After the announcement of her freedom from the label and joining Atlantic Records, the tringle EP (III.) had me eagerly awaiting a full album.

Being able to ride the line of pop and R&B, this LP delivered in all fronts throughout the tracklist. The songs reaffirm how she should be considered a predecessor of her now contemporaries like Ariana Grande & Alessia Cara. The singles push her R&B edge to the forefront with "No Apologies." featuring Wiz Khalifa and "FAB." featuring Remy Ma. Then "Music." as the final pre-released track is a ballad that has more pop appeal without sacrificing her strong vocal ability. This overall spectrum between genres span the album in a rather cohesive manner as Jojo performs them so naturally, especially having writing credits on every song.

Tracks like the sexy "Like This.", sultry "Edibles.", & melancholy "Reckless." highlight her R&B sensibilities. "Clovers.", "Good Thing.", & "Rise Up." really display her pop appeal. While songs that really blur the line like "I Can Only." featuring Alessia Cara, "Mad Love.", & "Honest." prove that Jojo has been made an underrated artist due her circumstances. I personally love the spite delivered in "High Heels." and the honesty in "I Am.". "Vibe." and "Good Thing." never fail to get me moving. Yet, my favorite might have to be "Edibles." because even though I'm not necessarily interested in taking any drugs, Jojo comes off as quite the temptress.

In summary, I have got to say that this is seriously a great album for Jojo's grand return to the greater public. Every single song on the album has heart and likeability which is perfect for her reentry to the mainstream. She not only fits right into the current landscape of radio, but still maintains a unique identity. I highly would recommend this to anyone who is fan of artists who bridge the gap of pop and R&B like the aforementioned Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly. As you can tell, because of the this project I can only show Jojo mad love!

For more Jojo without the K.C.:
Baby, It's You feat. Bow Wow (How I knew she was a crossover artist)
In the Dark (How I found out she's still dope)
Take the Canyon (One of my favorites from Agape)
Thinking Out Loud (This song's structure just chills me)
Demonstrate (This along with Disaster made us think of how she was back)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

BlipMasta5's Top 20 Favorite Anime

Hey guys,

I would like to formally apologize for having such a long hiatus, but I wanted to come back ready to go with something you'll really like. I had to remake my top 5 anime video for my channel and decided that it was time to expand on it. Then my top 10 became a top 20, and I knew this was just too big to only share on YouTube. Therefore, consider this my return to the blog with more consistency! Hope you enjoy the video and tell me what you think. What's your favorite shows?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Quick Movie Review

The Man in 3B (2015, USA) | Rating: 2/5

"Based on the best selling novel by Carl Weber" as the DVD tells me, this movie I happened to look up on IMDb to see what it was all about. It had an interesting premise and at first I didn't realize it was based on a Carl Weber book. Once I received the DVD, I had to lower my expectations a little more. As much as I would like to think positively about black movies or urban fiction adaptations, they're consistently subpar and littered with cliches (and stereotypes). They barely bring anything new to the table and I'm surprised I haven't seen many complaints about this matter. Of course, that's a rant for another day. Anyway, the execution of this story was poor. I didn't feel like there was any character development whatsoever. All the subplots jumped from point A to point X to point M. It did make sense to some extent, but the lack of flow and development made it difficult to get invested in all these various relationships and situations. Then there's that ending that seemed to come out of nowhere! I have no idea if the book is just as nonsensical as the movie, but I have no motivation to give it any time.

Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

As per usual, my reviewing style for Tyler Perry is very loose. When I come into these movies, I expect the usual real life lesson that mostly incorporates religion in someway, plenty of comedy, and the typical cliches and stereotypes across the board. Nonetheless, my family and I always attend these productions and expect good entertainment, whether we enjoy the actual story or not. Usually, I'm the one that points out the surface problems and avoid delving into the controversy of setting African Americans back in the media to some extent. Of course, that's for another post altogether. This was the first time my family saw the flaws in Perry's movies. When the movie was over and the packed theater exited the room and some after credits bloopers end, they turned to me and said that they really didn't care for this one as much. We all admitted that there were plenty of laughs throughout the movie, but the message was a bit weak. The movie dwindled a little too long on certain scenes which made them increasingly unfunny, which is quite unfortunate with our comedic elderly group and some distracting reverse shots that my mom pointed out. It does a decent job of parodying and incorporating current horror trends such as zombies and creepy clowns, but when you take away the laughs there's not much else to fall back on. The overall message to parents and children are kinda muddled with this over the top prank or "lesson". Nonetheless, it continues to be another fun movie with pretty much the same quality as his most recent films...which can be good or bad.

All Hallows' Eve (2013, USA) | Rating: 3.5/5

Much like the VHS tape that appeared in the kids' trick-or-treat bag, this appeared to me in the drop off slot. Looking at the cover, I assumed it would be a not so good film...and you guys already know I've been purposely watching bad horror a lot this year. Halloween was within reach when I popped this into my PS2 and it's unfortunate that I didn't get this review up in time for my silly little spoopy challenge. Anyway, when I was watching this movie I learned that it was an anthology type of film like ABCs of Death and I'm guessing V/H/s. When it comes to anthologies, not all the stories will be a hit with everyone. The main story was pretty basic and mostly had its content at the beginning when the babysitter sees the tape and the kids watched some of it and at the end when the babysitter finishes the tape and checks on the children. Majority of the stories revolved around this silent, sadistic clown, which proved to be entertaining for the most part. There might've been one or two stories I didn't care for with him. There is one that I don't think featured him, but had aliens instead, which was probably my least favorite. I admit that a couple of these stories were effectively creepy and borderline disturbing in some areas. I'm not sure if it has or will have a small cult following like Trick 'r Treat, but I think it deserves some sort of positive recognition for a Halloween watch.

All Hallows' Eve 2 (2015, USA) | Rating: 2.5/5

At the same time as the first movie, someone turned in the sequel as well. I believe I watched this back to back of each other. In this second installment, we have a different mascot, which apparently disappointed some IMDb commenters. It's some creepy pumpkin head guy. For once, I kinda agree with the comments. Somewhat similar to this first movie, a woman mysteriously receives a VHS tape on her front porch and she decides to watch it on Halloween. Unlike the first movie, the story focuses more on the anthology than giving a narrative to the viewer of the tape. While I can understand the shift in this vision, I kinda liked connecting the recipient of the tape and wondering what's going on in their mind as they watched these horrific stories, but all we get in the sequel is some lady sipping wine casually with a slightly disgusted reaction until the very end. Despite switching "mascots", the pumpkin creep on the cover doesn't really show up as much as the clown in these mini stories. Instead we get varying tales of deceased ex-girlfriends in social media, a guy that uses real humans for his Halloween decorations, and a friend's significant other murdering their partner. Yes, there are some pumpkin head related stories like the babysitter and kid eating pumpkin seeds and the father and son bringing an offering to the pumpkin demon, but they're just not as entertaining or satisfying as our killer clown. The sequel wasn't bad, it just lacked cohesion. My favorite stories featured were the very short pumpkin seed consumption and the cute boy with the glasses hunting monsters with his mom. They had a simple, well executed narrative. If you enjoyed the first movie, you might enjoy the second, but you're not missing out on anything if you skip out on it either.

The Neon Demon (2016, USA) | Rating: 3/5

When I saw the preview to this movie, I immediately knew I had to see this visual treat. I am a sucker for mindblowing visuals and strange concepts. I later found out that it's by the same director as the visually appealing Only God Forgives and the odd Drive, which both star Ryan Gosling. Both of these movies had some stunning cinematography, but the story just didn't stand out as much. This movie pretty much keeps the Nicholas Winding Refn's style consistent. The visuals remain breathtaking and they really kept me entranced. On the other hand, the story kinda goes over your head in certain moments. Like I understood the basis of what he was going for, but in the end, the conclusion is...for lack of a better word, out there. I can't see a lot of casual moviegoers enjoying this visual gift and slightly abstract storytelling, but if you're used to the structure of the director's previous films I mentioned, then you should be fine. I enjoyed the characters and how they influenced our main character's evolution. There are some strange moments that do put me off a little from the story. Much like the previous movies, especially Only God Forgives, I really wanted to fall in love with this film, but the storytelling and certain situations kinda turned me off from reaching that goal, which honestly makes me sad. On the other hand, I kinda want to see this movie again as it does have a little something I can't get enough of.

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.