“The Umbrella Academy” Episode Two Thoughts

So, I think I’m going to try to write up one of these “thoughts” posts for each episode as I watch each one. I tried to be non-spoiler for the first one but starting with this one I’ll give a quick review of the episode and then spoilers for the episode and comics will be behind a read more.

Great second episode. It cemented the idea that I may know the story but I don’t know what is coming next. More good character moments between the Academy members. Pogo, despite being a talking monkey, brings a lot of gravitas to the scenes he’s in.

Rating: Honestly they’re all going to be in the 4/5-5/5 range unless the series makes a serious misstep.

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“The Umbrella Academy” Episode 1 Thoughts

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I’ve watched the first episode and so far I like the show. The Netflix series seems to be going for a mostly straight deconstruction of the teen superhero group and dropping a lot of the absurdist scifi elements from the comic. This isn’t a bad thing just different.

The chronology of this first episode pulls events from as far the fourth issue of the comic. So anyone looking for a one to one recreation should turn away now. It doesn’t feel out of order and until I checked the comic I thought it might have only been from the first two issues. Personally, I’m looking forward to more scenes that aren’t in the comic. While the comic is a fun read it’s a little shallow on character development. With ten episodes I hope to see more into what makes these people tick.

One large change is Vanya, the seventh child, looks to have more interactions with the rest of the Academy. On my recent reread of the first volume of the comic, which this first season seems to be based on, I noticed she barely says two sentences to Diego before she goes to SPOILER and SPOILER happens. It makes sense that if you cast Ellen Page in a role that you give her more to work with.

A welcome change is we are given brief introductions with character names for all the grown children. In the comic, names are rationed out at one or two an issue. Yes, this is realistic in regards to speech patterns but terrible when trying to keep several characters straight in your mind.

Mild spoiler: Another character(one that I have wanted to see more of) that was mostly absent from the comic appears in the first episode and might get more appearances in the rest of the series.

Rating for this first episode: 4.5/5

Bird Box Quick Review/Thoughts

I just finished watching Bird Box on Netflix. I liked it with a few caveats that would be mild spoilers that I’ll talk about at the end.

The movie is about a woman, Sandra Bullock, and the young children living in a post-apocalyptic world trying to make a journey to a safe haven. Through flashbacks, we learn what happened to the world and how the woman ended up where she is.

Content warnings for suicide, blood, implied and mild gore, close-ups of eyes, imaginary voices.

I found the movie to be very tense and unsettling. More thriller/suspense end of the horror spectrum than shock/gore. I’m not normally a horror fan because most end up in high in shock/gore which I don’t like. Suspense horror pushes my fear/anxiety buttons in a way I do like. The payoff isn’t the point. Not knowing what but knowing something is out there.

Bird Box pushed those buttons in the best ways.

Rating 4/5

Spoilers in the read more.

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Transformers: The Last Knight Watch Log

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Originally posted on my Tumblr.

I’m watching Transformers: The Last Knight and I just want to scream at how ill-conceived this movie is.

***

I’m an hour and half in and I just remembered the movie started by introducing a kid sidekick, who had her own robot sidekick, that we last saw forty-five minutes ago. Anthony Hopkins is an absolute terror in this movie as he swings from distinguished gentleman to demented old man. Hot Rod has a FRENCH ACCENT FOR NO EXPLAINABLE REASON!! He also has a gun that slows down time. ALSO, the movie needs to decide if these robots bleed green blood or can just fall apart for comedic reasons.

One more thing before I continue this movie: if a character starts a sentence in one location he can not finish it in another. That is not how conversations work even in movies.

***

There is so much wrong with this movie but the worst part is it isn’t a complete movie. If Unicron had only been hinted at then it would have worked as a sequel hook. Until Cybertron arrived and started wrecking earth, Unicron felt like the pressing matter at hand. Also, was Cybertron draining power from Unicon? Did the good guys save Unicron? I’m unclear on that point and many other points. I am torn between wanting to know what ludicrous plot they were going to come up with in the next movie and wanting to scrub this and the previous three movies from my mind.

Rating 1/5

I am looking forward to the Bumblebee movie, which is not directed by Micheal Bay. The transformer designs look much better and hopefully it will be the start of a new series.

Short Random Movie Reviews

Originally posted on my Tumblr.


 

Ant-Man and The Wasp

I went to see the latest Marvel movie today and I really liked it. Like the previous movie, it’s comedy-action with a solid plot. The Wasp gets plenty of action scenes and never gets sidelined. I really liked Ghost, one of the main villains. The recent run of Marvel movies have had great villains like Vulture, Killmonger, and Hela. Ghost continues this trend of villains with understandable motivations.

Fyi: There is a scene after the diorama credits and then another at the end of the regular credits. The last end credits scene is entirely skippable, has no bearing on any other movies, and is not worth watching.

Rating 4/5


 

Monster Trucks

I just watched Monster Trucks, a movie about monster trucks that have literal monsters for engines. It’s a “kid and their monster” type of fun movie. Overall it’s a well made movie with a goofy concept. There aren’t any glaring plotholes and the minor ones can be ignored if you just want to have fun. The characters are pretty shallow but likable. Mostly white cast except for Danny Glover who appears in the beginning, disappears for the bulk of the movie, and then reappears for a couple of scenes near the end.

It’s not art but it was fun to watch once.

Rating: 2.5/5


 

Bright review

I just got done watching Bright on Netflix and I liked. The biggest praise I can give this movie is: it doesn’t get bogged down trying to explain two thousand years of alternate history with elves and orcs and pixies and dragons.

The world just is this urban fantasy and people live there. A centaur cop shows up in the background for like five seconds. A dragon flies through the clouds over LA. Orcs have block parties. Pixies are pest creatures like wasps. Nothing is explained in great detail but because the characters interact like their world is real, it makes sense.

Beyond that, it’s an action cop movie with Will Smith and an Orc. The race metaphor gets hit a little too hard at times. A couple of scenes feel like they linger so Will can ad lib a joke or two but it’s done with restraint.

Rating 4.5/5

Justice League Watch Log/Review

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Originally posted on my Tumblr as I watched the movie.

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I’m just about to start watching the Justice League movie. Let’s see how bad this is.

***

I’m about halfway through the movie.

Cyborg’s storyline is kinda cool. I liked Barry Allen’s storyline when I saw it in the tv show. Also, they need to cool it with the Barry is horny for Diana “jokes”. Aquaman’s backstory is so ill-defined and so far in the background that if I didn’t know it already it wouldn’t make any sense. Atlantis and merpeople are just a thing now I guess. I don’t know what Diana’s storyline is except to fight and look sexy. Also, Diana has super speed too now I guess. Batman is Batman; so that’s ok.

The action isn’t really wowing me and the plot doesn’t feel super engaging. Maybe it’ll pick up in the second half now that the team is (mostly) together.

***

Yeah having the team together helped a lot. I wish there had just a little bit more of them interacting. Not for the movie to be longer but if they got together like twenty minutes sooner.

Diana’s story came into focus in the second half of the movie a little better. Something about coming out of the shadows and being a shining beacon of hope. We don’t really get to see her take charge of the team just hear about it while they save Batman.

Btw Bruce letting the Kent’s farm get foreclosed on makes no sense. You can not tell me that he wouldn’t have been keeping on eye on Martha Kent after getting her son, Clark Kent aka Superman, killed. At the very least he would have kept the mortgage paid up. That woman has lost everyone in her family. Bruce, my parents are dead, Wayne would not have let her lose the farm too.

That Russian family that briefly appears throughout the movie is obviously there to make the danger personal. Mostly I was confused about what was special about them in particular and later surprised that there were other civilians in the area as well.

Overall not as bad as I thought it would be.

Rating 3/5

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Random Doctor Who Reviews

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These are a couple of short reviews of Doctor Who episodes from the most recent series. Originally posted on my Tumblr.

My Beautiful Ghost Monument

I just watched the newest episode of Doctor Who. Fairly average Doctor Who episode but the ending, the Doctor reuniting with the Tradis, was marvelously heartfelt. The Doctor has a quick moment of gender confusion that felt very familiar to me as a trans woman. From the first episode, I loved that the Doctor being a woman was not presented as a problem or an issue to constantly commented on. I hope we get more passing (no pun) moments of “trans-ness” (for lack of a better word).

Rating 3.5/5


 

Doctor Who: Rosa Parks

So, I’m several weeks behind on Doctor Who but I’m getting caught up.

The “scifi bad guy” felt lacking in motivation besides being a racist from the future. The “current day bad guy”, aka white people, was horrifically realized without being over the top. The very matter of fact way they enforced segregation and their own “superiority” over black people felt the right kind of wrong.

Vinette Robinson, who played Rosa Parks in the episode, was great. Quiet but with steel bracing her every word. I am glad that the episode showed her as involved in the activism of the time and not just a tired woman.

I was struck by the similarities between the bus driver running off the bus to call the police and the continuing present-day trend of white people calling the police on black people for existing in what they perceive as white spaces.

Overall, I liked the episode but it is emotionally intense in a way that means I probably won’t watch it very often.

Rating 5/5

Gillian Reviews Venom

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Sunday night I went to see Venom after work. It was kind of a late showing, 9:15 pm, and I was debating with myself a good portion of the day. The trailers didn’t really grab me and combined with a general critic consensus of “it’s a bad movie” along with the handicap of being unconnected to Spider-Man, I had pretty much made up my mind not to see it.

Then I listened to a podcast review and heard something that piqued my interest. Near the end of the movie, Venom the symbiont admits he is a loser. He’s smaller than the other symbionts and can’t form as many different weapons as they can.

Forget the trailers; they’re straight up lying to you about Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiont’s relationship. Yes, Venom speaks with a deep gravely voice and yes he kills and eats people but he and Eddie have a much more equal relationship. You could even say it’s symbiotic. But seriously they bicker with each other like an old married couple and it’s kinda cute. The symbiont controlling and threatening Eddie never really happens in the actual movie.

Also, forget the comics because the absence of Spider-Man changes a lot of Eddie and Venom’s motivations and personalities. Surprisingly Venom without Spider-Man works fairly well. There are a few things that just carry over without much explanation, like his appearance and name. It’s never stated in the movie but the big white eyes are just what these symbionts look like. Also, his name, Venom, is just his name for no reason. These are minor things that I feel don’t break the movie.

The actual story is pretty straightforward with no real twists or turns which is fine for a super anti-hero movie. It’s not high art but it’s serviceable. The transition from second to third act is a little rough with some surprise motivations and character development but it’s still a thousand times better than Spider-Man 3. There is a mid-credits scene that sets up a sequel that I would be willing to watch.

I ended up enjoying the movie and will probably watch it again once it hits a streaming service. It is a departure from the comic character in many ways which may be a deal breaker for some people. This slightly new take on Venom was refreshing to me. It’s a new origin story for a familiar-ish character.

Rating 3.5/5

Gillian Reviews Power Rangers

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Power Rangers is the reboot movie of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tv series.  It presents a slightly darker and grittier version of the Power Rangers but not as dark and gritty as the “fan-made” short film that came out a couple years ago.

The plot is simple: a group of kids gain superpowers and must defeat the evil enemy.  While I liked most of the characters, they weren’t the characters I knew from the series.  They are present in name but with different backstories and character traits.  There’s a little shuffling of races to avoid matching with their ranger color and the cast ends up slightly more diverse because of it.

My main nitpick with the movie is that the five kids have no connection with each other or reason to work together until the film says they have to.  I rewatched the first episode of the tv series after watching the movie and I buy those kids as a superhero team more than the movie’s kids.  They’re all friends and supportive of each other and just nice kids.  I’ll admit the show is a little rough to watch twenty-four years later but the characters are the rock of that show.

On to the costumes.  I did not like the design of the armor.  I get they were trying to avoid referencing the tv spandex too much but the low rent, bio-techno, Iron-Man look isn’t good.  The color scheme is inconsistent across the armors with some having patches of white and others having shades of their primary color instead.  It’s a nitpick but it bothered me as a fan of the old show.

The zords were honestly hard to look at.  They looked like rejects from a Transformers movie.  The mastodon zord had six legs for some reason.  I did like that they had a chance to fight separately which they rarely did in the show.  The Megazord was something of a let down since it wasn’t made from combining the zords in Voltron-esque sequence and instead combined offscreen into a giant robot that looked like the five robots had been melted down and recast into a man shape.  Easily the most recognizable sequence from the show is the zords combining and it gets cut out and turned into a non-reveal since it was a foregone conclusion that they would be combining their zoids.  Another nitpick from a fan of the show.

In fact, lots of things bothered me about the movie as a fan of the show.  The movie is a fine superhero movie but is a below average Power Rangers movie. I will admit I came very close to tears during the emotional climax of the movie. The characters aren’t my Power Rangers but I’m in my late 30’s and the movie was aimed at a younger demographic.

Rating 2.5/5