<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Movie Reviews]]>Thu, 22 Apr 2021 08:48:01 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Review of Godzilla vs. Kong]]>Sun, 04 Apr 2021 18:57:04 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-godzilla-vs-kong1
By Dave B.
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When Godzilla goes on a seemingly unprovoked rampage in Florida, Kong and his human allies trek to his ancestral home in an attempt to uncover a power source that will stop the King of the Monsters. But some of the people involved in this mission have another agenda and they’ll put the world at risk to accomplish their aims. 
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As a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, I often have to suspend belief and just accept certain elements of imaginary worlds. And that’s ok. It can help one to fully embrace a story and enhance a welcome sense of escapism. But Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t just ask viewers to suspend belief. It requires them to turn off their brains, and that’s rarely a good thing. Frankly, the Godzilla vs. Kong plot doesn’t make sense, the story is poor, and the character development is just about nil. On top of that, there are so many inconsistencies that it boggles the mind. How did this guy learn to expertly pilot an experimental aircraft in like three seconds? How did this company build an underground maglev system under the entire world, but not spend a dime on basic security? How did this guy who was seemingly in Florida a few hours ago meet up with his daughter in Hong Kong in the blink of an eye? I’ll probably never get answers to these questions, so it’s likely for the best that the movie wasn’t interesting enough for me to get too worked up about them. 
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That’s not to say that Godzilla vs. Kong had nothing going for it. The movie is relatively family-friendly, which is a plus for those with families who may want a little break from fare directed at the youngest of children. The monster fights were all pretty entertaining and the CGI is definitely good. But I can’t help but think that, considering over $150 million was spent making this movie, it may have been wise to have spent more than a few cents to develop a decent story that is at least moderately compelling and internally consistent. Brian Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes is a bright spot as far as the performances go, but it’s abundantly clear that the Hayes character (a paranoid conspiracy-obsessed podcaster) is the only character that received even a bare minimum of thought and effort from the writers, so it’s hard to blame the cast for lackluster results in that area.
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I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Overall, Godzilla vs. Kong is bad. It’s saving grace is that most people who would take the time to watch it likely have fairly reasonable expectations about it. So long as the action is good, most viewers will probably be content. But for me, that’s not enough, so I am not recommending this movie. Unless you’re completely emotionally invested in the Warner Bros. multiverse, watching this movie is going to feel like a waste of your time. 
Service: HBOMax
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Rating: 4.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League]]>Sun, 21 Mar 2021 21:51:34 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-zack-snyders-justice-league
By Dave B.
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​If you’re reading a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League you likely already know enough of the film’s history and premise, so I won’t go deeply into them. In short, it’s a superhero team-up featuring DC comics stalwarts Aquaman, Cyborg, The Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They square off against the villain Steppenwolf and his master, Darkseid with the fate of the Earth in the balance. 
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I prefer to judge a film on its own merits, so I’m going to do my best not to compare this with the previously released version of Justice League. That said, claims that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is some sort of masterpiece are exaggerations in my view. It’s a decent movie. It’s tonally consistent (meaning nearly unrelentingly dark and foreboding). The action sequences are good, and help prevent a four-hour long movie from feeling excessively long (unlike, let’s say, “The Irishman”). And frankly, Zack Snyder’s Justice League likely would have been a good foundation for the future of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) because it does a good job of setting up future threats in a way that makes one want to see the future of this fictional world. 
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However, in no way, shape, or form is Zack Snyder’s Justice League a great movie. While it’s runtime doesn’t feel oppressive, it still does feel a bit bloated. A great movie attempts to balance complete storytelling, a compelling narrative, and concision. The film fails at the third of those. Furthermore, the performances in this movie mostly range from “decent” to “annoying” to “wooden”. It’s hard to feel an emotional connection to the movie because too many of the actors don’t seem to feel one. 
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Fans of Zack Snyder and his previous DC movies should definitely see this version of Justice League. It’s a true interpretation of the director’s original vision for the film and the fact that it’s available to audiences at all is a minor miracle. That said, if I had paid to go see this film in a theater, I’d probably be a bit pissed. It’s not good enough to justify sitting in public for four hours, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. The fact that it’s on HBOMax is the only reason that I can recommend this film (even if somewhat tepidly) to viewers beyond diehard fans. If you aren’t a fan of comic book inspired movies in general, or the DCEU in particular however, you can safely give this movie a pass. 
Service: HBOMax
Runtime: 242 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Terminator: Dark Fate]]>Sun, 14 Mar 2021 19:07:22 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-terminator-dark-fate
By Dave B.
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Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), the latest instalment in the Terminator series, serves as a reboot of the long-running franchise. It introduces a new savior of humanity, a new bodyguard, and some familiar faces, battling against another artificial intelligence bent on wiping out beleaguered human survivors in the future by altering the past. 
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Die-hard fans of Terminator movies are likely to dislike Dark Fate, if for no other reason than it represents a SUBSTANTIAL departure from canon. In fact, viewing it as an alternate timeline is the easiest way to fit this film into the Terminator universe. That said, despite the changes to the franchise, Dark Fate is okay. It’s action sequences and visual effects are good, the movie mostly has good pacing, and the acting performances are enthusiastic. That makes for a movie that is entertaining throughout. 
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Where Dark Fate stumbles is in the areas of plot and character depth. Both are generic in a way that has become all too common with the Terminator movies that came after “T2: Judgement Day”. Roles are static and the plot is absurdly predictable. No matter how entertaining a movie’s action scenes may be, if you know exactly that a thing going to happen, when a thing is going to happen, and who is going to do a thing, that movie can’t fairly be considered “good”.
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I see Terminator: Dark Fate as a nearly ideal “Sunday Hangover" movie: it doesn’t require much mental effort to watch and if you find yourself unwilling  (or unable) to change the channel while it’s on, you won’t mind too much because all the chases, explosions, and general carnage are mostly fun. Dark Fate doesn’t deserve any rewards, and it’s understandable that some people may have a strong aversion to the franchise’s new direction, but if you’re in the mood for some mindless fun, this is a movie that I would recommend to you. 
Service: Currently on Amazon Prime
Runtime: 128 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Review of WandaVision]]>Sat, 06 Mar 2021 17:32:14 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-wandavision1
By Dave B.
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​Following the events in “Avengers: Endgame”, Wanda Maximoff is bereft over the loss of her love, Vision. Eventually, she ends up in the town of Westview, somehow living the life of her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, the town has been cut off from the world, the residents mentally enslaved and living false lives, and her activities are being televised. As her idealized life begins to exhibit a dark underbelly, Wanda must face her past in order to embrace her future. 
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First of all, I want to give credit to Marvel for its risk-taking. WandaVision is a weird show and it could have easily flopped. It initially takes the format of a 1950s-era sitcom and subsequent episodes are formatted as sitcoms of the following decades. It’s a weird way to present what is fundamentally a superhero TV show and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. That said, it’s extremely effective at holding viewers’ attention and mostly effective as a means of conveying the deep emotional trauma that Wanda is struggling with. The show is filled with humor, love, excitement, and despair and all are presented with a deft touch that I found extremely compelling. To be honest, after the second or third episode, I found myself craving Fridays so that I could see what would happen next in the town of Westview. 
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That said, WandaVision is lacking a some things that would have made it a great show, instead of just a very good one. Most notably, the end of the series is not emotionally satisfying because there is no real sense of redemption. The audience is meant to empathize with Wanda’s plight, and we largely do. But there is no public accountability for her horrific actions (despite those actions not being entirely her fault). Viewers have come to expect a catharsis when we’re given stories where heroes stumble. Not providing that catharsis can be ok when it is intentionally withheld and serves a larger point. WandaVision’s omission in that regard feels more like a cop-out than anything else. The show ends on an exciting note, but not an emotionally satisfying one. 
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Initially, I wasn’t initially expecting much, but it turned out that I liked WandaVision. A lot. There’s nothing that I crave more than a unique television show or movie that is also entertaining and WandaVision definitely checks that box. I highly recommend it to pretty much anyone, especially fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But despite the creativity that suffuses the series, it’s hard for me not to feel a bit let down that the strong emotional thread woven through the show becomes a bit frayed at the end. 
Service: Disney Plus
Episodes: 9
Approx. Episode Length: 40 Minutes
Rating: 7.5/10
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<![CDATA[Website Review: Tremonster Films]]>Wed, 24 Feb 2021 18:59:43 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/website-review-tremonster-films
By Dave B.
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I don’t often get asked to review websites or online services, but when I do, I almost always say yes. It’s a nice change of pace from reviewing movies and television shows, plus I get to find some interesting websites that I may have not been exposed to otherwise. Case in point: Tremonster Films
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What is Tremonster Films and What Does it Offer?
Tremonster films is a new subscription streaming film service that “offers artistic, culturally significant and entertaining Film Festival quality short films for event screenings or on your personal device for education, enrichment or just a good time.” In other words, it’s a streaming service for short films. If you’re not familiar with short films, despite often operating with relatively limited budgets, they can offer some of the most creative and insightful film experiences that you’ll find, packed into bite-sized packages. The films on Tremonster generally have runtimes that range from a few minutes to around 20 minutes. 

Films on the site are divided into three sections. The Preface section contains older short films that are personal favorites of the site’s curators. The Compilations section contains “The Feed” which allows subscribers to access all the films on the site, and “Family Feed” offers a selection of family-friendly short film fare. Lastly, there is the Collections section, where subscribers will find the newest releases. The first collection contains six films. The second collection will be available on Friday, February 26, 2021. New Collections are expected to be released every five weeks throughout the rest of the year. 
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Who is Tremonster For?
​Perusing the site makes clear that Tremonster is primarily aimed at three sets of users: short film creators, short film exhibitors, and short film fans. Creators get increased exposure for their films, exhibitors can show the films in a wide range of settings from festivals to classrooms and can develop relationships with creators, and fans gain access to films that they may otherwise have not been able to see. Overall, it seems to be a win-win-win situation for all parties involved and it’s a creative way to help strengthen the short film ecosystem as a whole?
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Is This Service for You?
A subscription to Tremonster will run you $3.50 per month and the site offers a 3-day free trial. From a functionality perspective, the website works well. From a content perspective, it appears that Tremonster intends to grow at a regular, reasonable pace and offers high-quality content. Here’s a small sample of some of the film topics that you can find on the site:
  • Sunday Dinner - Comedic modern take on family tradition that is passed down through the generations.
  • Rice Ball - Heartfelt film of a father and son mourning the loss of his wife and mother over Rice Balls.
  • Second to None - Animated dark comedic short of twin brothers battling to be the world's oldest person.
  • Soil Carbon Cowboys - Documentary from all over North America about farmers protecting their lands.
  • Hai - A modern day lost in translation romantic comedy bridging language and cultural differences.  
  • Backstory - A time lapse depiction of the highs and lows of the human experience.
Tremonster intends to update the platform’s look, feel, and functionality, so changes to the design and layout of the webpage will occur, but that’s normal with a new business and as it currently stands, the site is intuitive and easy to navigate. So, if you’re a creator, exhibitor, a fan of short films, or just curious to discover what short films are all about, you should definitely give Tremonster Films a look. 
*Author’s note: The author received no compensation for this review but was granted subscription access in order to evaluate the offering.
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<![CDATA[Review of The Expanse: Season Five]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2021 17:58:06 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-the-expanse-season-five
By Dave B.
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​As humanity continues to explore new frontiers through the alien gate network, trouble is brewing closer to home. A Belter faction, led by a charismatic and ruthless leader, has gained dominance and launches an audacious plan to throw off the yolk of the inner planets forever. The crew of the Rocinate, scattered around the solar system, must face this new threat individually. But can they overcome their new adversary and all survive the oncoming storm without each other?
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I’ll just state this plainly: Season 5 is easily the best season of The Expanse. And that’s quite an accomplishment as The Expanse has consistently been a great show throughout its existence. All of the aspects that made The Expanse great (including excellent performances, strong script, impressive special effects, and a masterful understanding of both individuals and humanity) combine flawlessly to create a masterpiece of reality-based science fiction. And while all of the performances are great, I’m specifically giving special kudos to Cara Gee who plays Camina Drummer and Keon Alexander who plays Marco Inaros. They don’t share much time onscreen this season, but the intensity of the direct and indirect interactions between the honorable (but conflicted) Drummer and the villainous (but brilliant) Inaros are portrayed perfectly by these actors and serve as the basis for the most engaging storyline this season.
Despite all of the wonderful things that I can say about Season 5 of The Expanse, I’m not going to give it a perfect rating. The fact that there’s a stretch of three or so episodes where one of the main characters spends nearly the entire time crying annoyed me too much to do so. I fully admit that some people may feel differently, but I personally have a limit on how much continuous crying a character can do before my empathy for them wanes. The Expanse surpassed that limit by a lot. 
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Despite not being perfect, Season 5 of The Expanse is absolutely “must-watch” television. It’s easily in competition with the best seasons of the most recent iteration of “Battlestar Galactica” for best space televised opera ever. If you’ve been a fan of previous seasons of The Expanse , definitely keep watching it. If you’ve never seen or heard of The Expanse, Season 5 is so good that you should start the series from the beginning so that you experience it in its full grandeur. 
Service: Amazon Prime
Episodes: 10
Approx. Episode Length: 52 Minutes
Rating: 9/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Disenchantment: Season Three]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2021 19:33:10 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-disenchantment-season-three
By Dave B.
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In the third season of Netflix’s animated comedy Disenchantment, Princess Bean is beset by enemies on all sides as a conspiracy to overthrow her father, King Zog, results in her being burned at the stake as a witch. Through harrowing escapes and intrigue, Bean and her allies experience love, loss, and betrayal while doing their best to protect the kingdom of Dreamland from a plethora of nefarious plots. 
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Disenchantment is one of those shows that is easy to love, but difficult to like, at times. Similarly to the series’ first season, the show maintains high marks for the quality of its animation, likeable characters, and for being consistently humorous (but not often uproariously hilarious). As a bonus, season three further expands the world in which the characters interact, making the various obstacles and conflicts that they face feel as if they have meaningful consequences. 
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That said, during this season of Disenchantment, the plot meanders. It often feels as if a story twice as long could be told in as many episodes if the writers could focus on driving the plot forward in a deliberate way instead of having it be an afterthought. Once again, Disenchantment isn’t really bingeable. While individually, each episode is entertaining and enjoyable, taken as a whole, the season can be a bit of slog. There’s plenty of character development, but it feels less important than it should as current plotlines abruptly end or pause without rhyme or reason and plotlines from the first season, that were thought to be concluded, are seemingly randomly reintroduced. The way this show’s overarching plot is handled is often jarring and occasionally confusing.
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If Disenchantment’s writers can ever strike a good balance between character development and plot advancement, this could become a top-tier show. It’s funny enough, creative enough, and unique enough to stand out in the world of animation. And in fact, I recommend this season of Disenchantment to those who have watched the previous seasons. But until it reaches a point where I feel like watching more than one or two episodes in a row, I can’t recommend this as a season or a series that new viewers should take the time to start. There are better entertainment options on which to spend your time. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 10
Approx. Episode Length: 27 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Alice in Borderland: Season One]]>Sun, 10 Jan 2021 16:06:41 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-alice-in-borderland-season-one
By Dave B.
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As a slacker and his two friends hide from the police in a Tokyo train station bathroom stall, an odd event occurs. They emerge from their hiding place and discover that everyone in the station, and the city, has disappeared. As the friends navigate an abandoned Tokyo, they stumble across a series of games that test their teamwork, intelligence, physical abilities, and loyalty. They quickly discover that the cost of losing is death and non-participation is not an option. As they struggle to escape and discover the purpose behind this new reality, their bonds of friendship are tested and they learn the truth of themselves that they hide from the world.
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Alice in Borderland isn’t going to win any awards. It’s moderately predictable, the performances range from mediocre to good, and there are more than a couple of times where the actions of characters don’t really make much sense. Plus, if you object to near-constant violence, this show is likely not your cup of tea. All that said, if you can make it through the first 15 minutes of the first episode, Alice in Borderland may become one of your favorite recent “guilty pleasures”. 
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​Unlike many shows that are highly bingeable, Alice in Borderland doesn’t rely on cliché cliffhangers at the end of every episode to keep viewers thirsting for more. Instead, it combines intensely emotional (and tragic) situations, compelling mysteries, and pervasive violence to keep viewers constantly on the edge of their seats and thirsting to know what will happen next. Alice in Borderland effectively plays upon the emotions of viewers to make them care about what happens to characters who are trapped in a situation that nearly defies comprehension. Plus, for those who may be turned off by extreme violence, it should be noted that while the carnage often seems random, it’s not excessively gory and is nearly always clearly in service of furthering the show’s plot.
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In short, Alice in Borderland is fun, engaging, and once you finish it, you’ll be wishing that the season was twice as long as it is. I HIGHLY recommend this show. It’s brutality is leavened with a deep-seated sense of humanity, compassion, and understanding of the human condition. This show may not be for everyone, but for those who make it through the first episode, you’re in for a hell of a ride which I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll love. A second season has already been confirmed and I for one can’t wait to fall further under Alice in Borderland’s spell when it’s released.
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 8 (dubbed)
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Rating: 8.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Wonder Woman 1984]]>Fri, 25 Dec 2020 21:59:33 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-wonder-woman-1984
By Dave B.
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​Princess Diana has spent the decades that have passed since the WWI helping people as she can, but while doing so, she’s closed herself off from the world, emotionally. When a magical wish-granting stone is discovered, Diana must choose between saving the world from those who would abuse the stone’s power, or holding on to the only thing she’s ever truly wished for. 
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I intentionally passed on reviewing the first Wonder Woman movie, not because I didn’t like it, but because, despite liking it, I felt that it wasn’t as good as most people thought it was and I didn’t feel strongly enough about it to bother defending my opinion. With Wonder Woman 1984 (WW84), I may be in the minority opinion again, but in the other direction. That’s because WW84 is better than its predecessor in some important ways. 
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Most importantly, a smaller cast of significant characters makes WW84 more approachable in that it allows viewers to develop attachments to characters without overly spreading their emotional energy. I cared more about what happened to our heroes an hour into this movie than I did throughout the entirety of the first film. The performances in WW84 are also better. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are solid, as expected, and Pedro Pascal is good. But Kristen Wiig’s performance stands out. She makes Barbara Minerva even more of a relatable and sympathetic character than she was already written to be. WW84 also contains a sense of awe and joy that is infectious. Some of the most wonderous parts of the movie are watching Steve (Pine) walking around learning about a seemingly miraculous future. 
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That said, there are some flaws with WW84. For starters, it’s long. Specifically, it’s about 20 minutes too long. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to watch this movie at home, because if I had seen it in a theater, I would have started getting antsy at the two hour mark. That’s not because the movie is bad, but it’s occasionally unevenly paced and, more than occasionally, a bit absurd. For example, I’m pretty sure that flying an airplane through fireworks is such an obviously bad idea, that no one in their right mind would actually do it. I’m also not a fan of the 1980s. Seeing it glamorized always sets my teeth on edge considering how awful it was for a lot of people. Many who watch this movie will be too young to remember the 1980s, but I’m not, and outside of some of the music, the decade generally sucked in every conceivable manner. And perhaps most annoyingly of all, WW84 doesn’t feel complete, despite its lengthy runtime. There are loose threads, especially involving what happens to the “villains”, that make the film feel less than satisfying. There’s no cathartic payoff and that’s a problem considering the time investment required to watch this movie and the emotional investment that this movie seeks to garner. 
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All in all, WW84 is good. It’s better than the original. But it’s definitely not great. I wouldn’t have felt as if I had wasted my money if I had seen it in a theater, but I’m glad that I had the option not to do so. Is this movie worth spending a few hours of your day in front of a screen? Sure, why not. You’ll likely enjoy most of it. But you’re also unlikely to be blown away by any part of it.
Service: HBO Max
Runtime: 151 Minutes
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Travelers: Seasons One through Three]]>Tue, 15 Dec 2020 19:57:26 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-travelers-seasons-one-through-three
By Dave B.
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Far in the future, with humanity on the brink of extinction, specially trained teams journey to the early twenty-first century to reshape the flow of history so that the cataclysms that led to such a wretched future never come to pass. These Travelers have their consciousnesses implanted into individuals moments before they were historically recorded as dying and receive orders from the future to carry out large and small tasks that are designed to help humanity’s development. But history is not necessarily easy to change. Will the Travelers succeed at forging a new path for humankind? Or will they discover that all of their efforts are in vain and that human destiny can’t (or shouldn’t) be changed?
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Normally, I would review each season of a multi-season show, individually. However, with Travelers (2016-2018), there’s not much fundamental difference in quality between the show’s three seasons. And in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. Travelers feels very much like a “Netflix algorithm” show (such as the lackluster first season of “Another Life”). Don’t get me wrong, Travelers is far superior to “Another Life” in nearly every way: it has decent writing (especially for having a plot that revolves around time-travel), relatively strong performances, and some truly heartfelt moments that help to create an emotional connection with the show and its various characters. But there’s a cliffhanger-y quality to Travelers that, despite making the show wonderfully bingeable, also can make it feel as if the show uses cheap tricks to foster a sense of addiction. I can live with that, but it’s not exactly a desirable trait.
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There are two aspects of Travelers that are more problematic for me. For starters, despite being fairly well-written from a character development standpoint, from a time-travel consistency point of view, Travelers is often lacking. I still maintain that the only show or movie that I’ve seen do time-travel well on a consistent basis is “Future Man”. The issue is that for time-travel (and especially for changes to timelines) to make sense, they have to be extremely well thought out ahead of time. Travelers too often gives the impression that it is making up rules and consequences on the fly. That may not bother some people, but it annoys the hell out of me. 
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An even bigger issue is that the main team sent back from the future to make changes to the past is often completely unprofessional and incompetent. In reality, sending such unqualified people on missions of such import would insane. The fact that their fundamental incompetence is used to drive such large parts of the story is nearly infuriating and detracts from what is otherwise a pretty good show. If your plot movement relies primarily on the near-constant ineptitude of what is supposed to be a highly-trained team of professionals, that’s a problem.
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Overall, Travelers has more positive than negative aspects, but the things about it that bother me hit all of my particular sci-fi pet peeves. My enjoyment of the show basically required me to not think about the show while watching it. But since I did enjoy Travelers for the most part, I am going to recommend it. The characters and character development in the show are strong enough to offset my issues with the plot construction and evolution. If you’re looking for a time-travel focused sci-fi show to binge watch, you can do much worse than spending your time on this one. 
Service: Netflix
Episodes: 34
Approx. Episode Length: 45 Minutes
Rating: 6/10
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