Thursday, July 20, 2017

Starz Struck: American Gods- Season Finale

The Season comes to an end, so let us see if they go out with a whimper or a scream...
Another 'Coming to America' Tale, although this one is lamp-shaded as filler by Mr. Wednesday.

In addition, it shows us the back story of that Goddess we see who sucked people inside of her.  We haven't gotten her since Episode 2!
Shadow and Mr. Wednesday are told that they need to court a Queen.  The latter picks Easter.
As you can see, all of the big people showed up for the yearly party.
This sure won't make people upset.  Right?
All of this comes to a head when the whole gang of New Gods (sorry, Kirby) arrive with an ultimatum.  What happens next?

Sorry, no SPOILERS.
A good Finale, even if it leaves a lot to be covered.  To be fair, it is not the SERIES Finale, so I can accept some open threads.  That said, there are MANY things left to be resolved or even picked up on.  Remember Peter Stormare being really important for 2 Episodes and then vanishing?  The same with Chloris Leachman and her Sisters?  That's just some of the many things that will *probably* be addressed next Season, but still feel weird to be left hanging.  With that complaint aside, the Episode generally delivered quite well for me.  We got more of Dead Wife and Mad Sweeney, some great stuff with Mr. Wednesday and another little bit of creepy Crispin Glover.  He really needed to be on more this Season!  Everyone did a good job with their roles.  If I had to complain, it would probably be that this feels more like a second-to-last Episode than anything else.  Even so, it is a solid wrap-up to the Season.  It also explains that we have one person to blame for all of those '___ People Meet' Apps- Technical Boy!
So that's it for Season 1.  While we wait for Season 2, consider whether or not this is just too damn pretentious.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ani-Mondo-me: One Punch Man (Season 1)

I haven't done any Anime in a while.  Let's fix that, shall we?

This is One Punch Man.  Some people don't like it.  Some people love it.

I was vaguely-aware of it (through Adult Swim's promotion of it).  So let me see what it is all about...
In a World with so many threats that Superheroes have formed together into a National Conglomeration, one man emerges.

He can defeat even the greatest foes with only one punch.  You either hate this or learn to accept it as the Premise.
We learn that he was once a normal man who decided to save a kid from a freaky Crab guy.  How did he change so much in only 3 years?
Throughout the Show, our Hero faces many threats.  Most importantly, the threat of not being recognized as a true Hero!
...also giant Mutants, underwater Monsters and all sorts of insanity.
The whole Show builds up to an epic battle to save the Earth.

To the Show's credit, other Characters get a chance to shine as the action separates them.  In other words, this isn't 'Superman Solves Everything.'

The Show is currently available Subbed on Netflix and dubbed just about everywhere I imagine.  Check it out.
For all the hype and/or disdain, I kind of liked it.  One Punch Man isn't the be-all-end-all of Anime.  One Punch Man isn't something so critical that I can't enjoy Anime either.  It is...a Comedy Series that satirizes Anime Tropes in a light-hearted way.  I was actually expecting it to be more over in the Parody than it actually was.  The giant guy you see early on is probably a broad Parody of Attack on Titan, but it isn't in your face about it.  Other than that, it covers the more general silliness of the Genre, as opposed to 'picking on' more Shows.  In other words, it is more of a silly Anime than a Parody of Anime.  That make sense?  Getting past that, it is just plain fun.  You know that most fights/situations are going to end in a bit of anti-climax.  With that in mind, they make it work pretty well still.  In one two-part Episode, they keep Saitama away from the main Villain through silly contrivance.  That allows other Characters to make big stands and fight before he arrives.  The Finale does something similar, which I definitely liked.  Can it work in a second Season?  Time will tell (as a second Season was recently announced).  More importantly, One Punch Man is here to set off whole new nerd fights with fan-art like this...
Next time, I cheat a little with a short American-ised Anime that is getting all sorts of attention.  Will it bite?  See you then...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WTF Japan?!?: Pulse (2001)

After a long time of staring at that DVD Case on my shelf, I finally got around to this.  On top of that, it took me 2 viewings.  Today's Film is Pulse, a famous Japanese Thriller who's Remake's Sequels I reviewed long, long ago.  They sucked.  After all that time, I might as well go back to the source material.  The Plot: strange ghosts are coming into our World via the Internet!  That sounds interesting.  How do you make that boring and hard to sit through?  Simply give it the pace of a lazy glacier (shut up- analogies are hard!) and make it all look like the print was covered in dirt for a year.  If this is the 'classic version,' then how bad must the American Remake be?  I suppose I will get to that in another 5 years (give or take 5 years) and see.  In the meantime, here's to learning about Computers and banal conversation in a Horror Film...
A girl's friend has been keeping to himself for a while.  She goes over to get some work files from him and he acts weird.

Moments later, instant suicide.  If you could do things so fast, why was your work always late?!?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the origin of 13 Reasons Why.

And yes, I don't even know if that's how it happens.  And no, I don't care.
To be fair to the Film, they try to be subtle with the Horror.  To be realistic, this is nothing compared to what Ringu did...before this Film.

Oooh...tracking errors.
This guy needs to be taught how Bookmarking Pages 2001.  I'm pretty sure my Grandpa could have done that with less explanation.
They do set up some interesting moments- like our Heroine seeing this paranoid lady earlier and later seeing her jump to her death- but they are just so few and far between.
Shadows are scary, right?  Right?!?
Since this Film can't quite show scope that well, they just tell you that other people are missing all over the place.  Yea.
Our two Heroes finally just decide to run away as the Ghosts are too many.  One of them is more helpful than the other...
They ultimately leave on a boat with...Japanese Clive Owen to continue their adventures in...nothing.  The End.
After all this time, it was a disappointment.  I went back to watch this for the 2nd time after falling asleep the first time.  To be fair, I do that sometimes when I have the afternoon off.  That's not necessarily an indictment on the Film by itself, but...I fell asleep the 2nd time too.  I get it- you're intentionally-slow-paced.  It tries more to set a mood than be scary.  Great.  In the process, it is too long, too slow and just not interesting enough.  The mix of banal and terrifying can work.  It just didn't work for me.  The few good moments just don't save the Film for me.  It almost makes me wonder if the Remake is better.  That's blasphemous, I know.  I do like J-Horror, whether it is trying to be good like Ringu or ridiculous like Sadako vs. Kayako.  I'm not just not 'into' this one.  It needed to be less banal and/or more crazy.  If you like it, great.  I'll just stick, not those Sequels.  I guess...I'll get back to you.  On the plus side, we get a glimpse at how everyone sees New Jersey on any given day though...
Next time, more randomness that I need to get through.  Could there be more Japan in the future?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Twin Piqued: Part 7

When one Show grinds to a halt in the Story, another...actually moves forward?!?
Important Moments
- David Lynch and company bring in Diane to speak to Bob Cooper.  She says he's evil.
- They examine lost pages of Laura's Diary and somewhat-awkwardly back-fill Plot Points.
- Doc Hayward appears and we get to see two old dudes use Skype.
- Andy talks to a guy about the previous Episode's Car Accident, but the guy never shows up later.
- The Horne Clan suddenly reappear after 6 Episodes!  We get background on Ashley Judd, while Ben tries to deal with his pot-head Brother.
- We mercifully get only a little Dougie Cooper, this time having a Borne-style moment showing his latent FBI Agent skills to defend himself from the little person assassin!
- Bob Cooper blackmails his way to freedom somehow!
This one is weird and full of random Plot Points.  Even so, I'd say that the basic Theme is Discovery.
- Lots of Backstory comes from the discovery of the missing Diary Pages.
- Annie is back-filled to having dreams of discovery.
- Bob Cooper's discovery of dirt on the Warden helps him out.
- We discover that you can film someone sweeping for 2 minutes straight AND get it on TV.
- Diane discovers the truth about Bob Cooper.
Weirdest Moment(s)
Well, this one is kind of a tie.  It just *slightly* leads towards one.

Runner-Up- A 2-minute unbroken shot of sweeping.
The Winner- The Man From Another Place (now played by stick blob) urges Dougie Cooper to kill the assassin.  It comes the hell out of nowhere and...I love it.
As one Show disappoints, another impresses.  I joked before about the irony of people retroactively-complaining about the bulk of Season 2 in the past.  Yes, it was random and strange, but it always moved forward.  Yes, some of them ended abruptly (like the 'evil kid' Subplot), but most of them kept pace and delivered.  With that said, THIS Episode feels more like Season 2.  It has weird moments throughout- the sweeping, the random Man from Another Place bit-, but also keeps the Plot sort of moving forward.  We learn more about the mystery of Briggs' finger prints (they think he's missing), more about Dougie (more is unlocked) and even more about BOB.  From what I've read, we get even more next time.  This one is what the others should have been!  Like even the most pretentious Episodes of American Gods, it always snuck a little in to keep you invested.  More of this please!  You've got 11 Episodes, so don't dick around.  Now clean the floor!
Next time, more Plot and actually moving forward?  What will become of the Coopers?  See you then...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Starz Struck: American Gods- Episode 7

Not so fast, Plot!  We need to stop doing that stuff and give a whole Episode's worth of Backstory instead...
Instead of another simple Coming to America Intro, we get...half an Episode of it.  At least it is clear why they are focusing on this person...
We learn the long, detailed Backstory of Emily's Ancestor- Essie.

This is better than Far and Away though.
Intercut with these Flashbacks, narrated for very little reason, is the journey of Mad Sweeny, Emily and Salim travel towards the Meeting of the Gods.
More backstory.  It is pretty and not at all bad...but I still don't see why I'm getting this instead of the Finale Setup.
Now with a new Vehicle, the duo run into some trouble, leading to a reveal (which someone SPOILED for me weeks ago) and a big decision for one of the pair.

Since I'm not the SPOILing kind, I'll just see you next week then.
Not a bad Episode...but why now?  This one's placement in the Series just feels like a big tease.  Why put it here?  This is effectively the Show's Version of a Bouncer- stopping you from getting what you want just yet.  Can I put that aside and just talk about the Episode?  Fine.  We get some good Writing and Acting- as usual- and the Narration is generally-helpful and good.  There are times when it felt a bit much for me, but that's not THAT big of a deal.  Even in these non-starter Episodes, they put one or two things in that you have to see.  Now glimpse of our Leads or ANY of the New Gods though.  Thank Jesus Prime (real in this Show) that they made room for the damn Buffalo though...
Next time, it all comes to an end!  With all of this build-up, it has to be EPIC- right?  See you then...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Quick Reviews: Get Out (2017)

After far too long of a delay, I can finally talk about the Film that everyone fell in love with back in February...
In a Cold Open, this man is stalked and taken.  Where does this lead?
Some vague time later, our Hero- Chris- goes to meet his white girlfriend's parents at their Family Estate.
He gets a strange vibe from the whole thing, not helped by his potential-Mother-in-Law's desire to hypnotize him (to stop his smoking).
In the wake of that, he continues to notice weird things about the people at the Gathering.  What is their secret?
To be fair, this isn't the weirdest family you could hang out with...

Yes, I did just want to use this Screen Cap from A Time Machine (I Found At A Yard Sale).  Sue me- it fits.
What is the secret of this family?  What are they planning?  Why is Stephen Root in everything?

To find out, watch the Film.  Seriously, it is really good.
Damn good stuff.  From the Writer of stuff like 'Bitch, Please' and 'Luther- Obama's Anger Translator' comes a legitimately-great Horror Comedy.  I know- I'm shocked too!  That's not to insult Jordan Peele's ability to write, since he has proven how good he can be.  It is just surprising to see him handle such an issue in an inventive and clever way.  This could have been goofy- it's not.  This could have been too serious- it is not.  Even when the Plot has to be serious, there is still a strange, eccentric quality to it.  It could have been way more somber or way too dark.  The final product is simply great.  Get Out is a Film that is good for fans of Horror/Thrillers.  If you don't care about the underlying subject matter being discussed, it is still good.  If you are interested in the subject, this one works even better.  Now matter how bad these people may be, I do like their taste in Televisions...
The Film is actually really good.  It is nice to see when these things actually are! 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hulu Hoopz: The Handmaid's Tale- Episode 6

Since I'm playing catch-up with this Show, let me get right to this...
The City is being cleaned up in preparation for Ambassador's from a South American Country are visiting.
In a flip of the script, we see Flashbacks featuring The Commander and his Wife.

We get a glimpse into the World just before the radical uprising that led to this World.
On top of that, they make you almost feel bad for the woman when you see her being reduced and degraded by the sexist overlords.
This all leads to a Gala that leads to a big reveal...that I obviously won't SPOIL.

Alright, there's actually two.  Mum's the word though.
Another dark, but good Episode.  This one is lighter in some regards- all the sex- but definitely darker in others.  The part where they are cleaning the blood from the walls- great.  The bleak pageantry of the Gala- great.  What it does especially well is mix things up with the storytelling.  For the first time, we see the other side of the conflict a bit.  We see the Commander and others that were behind the overthrow of the Government.  I still have many questions- like how the Military either fell or fell in line- but I know that they have time.  Plus, I'm like super-nitpicky about everything.  The highlights of the Episode have to be Offred's 2 big Speeches.  They really work due to the quality of the Writing and the Ability of our Star.  There are still many things to be dealt with, but we have 3 more Episodes in which to do it.  If you aren't watching this Show yet, just know that it is watching you...
Next time, with a big truth revealed, how will things change?  What fate awaits our Heroines?  See you then...