<![CDATA[Nothing To Say Here - Dave\'s Movie Reviews]]>Tue, 16 Jul 2019 01:36:02 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Review of Into the Dark: Culture Shock]]>Tue, 16 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-into-the-dark-culture-shock
By Dave B.
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Into the Dark: Culture Shock (Hulu) follows Marisol, a young Mexican woman, as she tries to make her way to the United States to provide a better life for herself and her unborn child. The journey is fraught with danger and betrayal, but the most terrifying threat that Marisol faces is beyond imagining. For her, the American Dream is about to become a horrifying nightmare.
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Culture Shock is basically divided into two halves. In the first half, Marisol does everything in her power to escape her destitute hometown and make her way to the United States. The storytelling in this section is powerful and represents the strongest human interest element in any story of the Into the Dark anthology. While the first half of Culture Shock represents horror on an individual level, the second half deals with horror in a more institutional, but no less terrifying sense. Marisol finds herself in a seemingly idyllic representation of the American Dream, but one that just feels wrong to her on every level. The determination that she displays to uncover the truth is laudable.
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With immigration being a major issue in the United States at the moment, Culture Shock is timely. It’s also likely to be controversial, as it humanizes people who are often viewed as a faceless group instead of as individuals. That said, the movie isn’t scary in any conventional sense, but it does a good job of creating a pervasive sense of unease in viewers. It’s easily the most well-written entry in the Into the Dark series and I recommend it.
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Review of I Am Mother]]>Sat, 13 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-i-am-mother
By Dave B.
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In I Am Mother (Netflix), humanity has been wiped out after a devastating war against their robot creations. In one remote facility, a robot (Mother) tasked with caring for and preserving human life begins to fulfill its programming by restarting the human race. She raises a child (named Daughter) from infancy up to her teenage years and everything is going smoothly until a mysterious stranger (Hilary Swank) arrives at the lab, desperate for help. Daughter, having been taught that the outside environment is toxic and that humanity is extinct, seeks to bond with the new arrival. But she soon discovers that her idyllic existence is not what it seems and Mother has been hiding horrifying truth’s from her. 
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​I’ve been extremely critical of Netflix science-fiction movies in the past. Most of them have decent premises and good special effects, but largely fail in execution, often because the writers of them assume that their audiences are stupid. I Am Mother does not fall into that trap at all. It’s well-acted, visually compelling (in a very stark/sparse/bleak way), and (most importantly for me when it comes to science-fiction) written intelligently for an audience that is assumed capable of figuring things out for themselves. It clocks in at just under two hours long, but it’s easy to watch and immerse oneself into despite its dearth of action and slow-pace. 
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Although I wouldn’t pay to see I Am Mother in a theater, it’s a good addition to any streaming service and represents a much needed improvement in Netflix’s science-fiction movie offerings (Netflix’s science-fiction TV shows have generally been much better with a few exceptions, most notably the first season of Lost in Space). Fans of thoughtful science-fiction should definitely add I Am Mother to their watchlists. However, it’s relative lack of activity, limited settings, and extremely small (but talented) cast, means that this movie may lack broader appeal. In other words, if this movie sounds appealing to you, consider watching it by yourself and only recommend it to a select few.  
Rating: 6.5/10
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<![CDATA[Premieres 2019: July 12 - July 18]]>Thu, 11 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/premieres-2019-july-12-july-18
By Dave B.
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"Premieres" will feature official trailers and synopses from what I feel looks like the most interesting (or the only, in some cases) original programming coming out in the subsequent week on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and elsewhere. In no way to these previews represent recommendations or reviews. My intent is to post this segment each Thursday or Friday, but we'll see. Enjoy!
3Below: Tales of Arcadia: Season Two - Netflix, July 12
Synopsis:
​"
The second season of executive producer​ ​Guillermo Del Toro’s ​DreamWorks Tales of Arcadia: 3Below​, finds Royal aliens, Aja and Krel cleaning up the mess that was left behind after their epic victory against General Morando’s bounty hunters. Still reeling from the betrayal by their bodyguard, Varvatos Vex, Aja and Krel continue to bravely defend themselves and their “Earthling” friends against powerful dangers old and new, all while attempting to fix their damaged Mothership and return to Akridion-5."
Point Blank - Netflix, July 12
Synopsis:
​"
When his pregnant wife is kidnapped and held as collateral, Paul, an ER nurse, must team with the badly injured career criminal and murder suspect under his charge in order to save the lives of his wife and unborn child. Pitted against rival gangs and a deadly ring of corrupt cops, the unlikely duo find a way to survive together in the fight of their lives. A gritty, action-packed thriller starring Anthony Mackie and Frank Grillo."
The Art of Self-Defense - Netflix, July 12
Synopsis:
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A dark comedy set in the world of karate. The film centers on Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), who is attacked at random on the street and enlists in a local dojo led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), in an effort to learn how to defend himself. What he uncovers is a sinister world of fraternity, violence and hypermasculinity and a woman (Imogen Poots) fighting for her place in it. Casey undertakes a journey, both frightening and darkly funny, that will place him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor."
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<![CDATA[Review of Spider-Man: Far From Home]]>Wed, 10 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-spider-man-far-from-home
By Dave B.
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In Spider-Man: Far From Home (Marvel), the world is coping with the loss of some of it’s most beloved heroes, particularly Iron Man. Meanwhile, Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, is preparing for a class trip to Europe and hopes to woo his secret love interest. But a new threat has arisen and Parker must choose between being a “normal” teenager and accepting the mantle of the world’s savior bequeathed to him by Tony Stark.
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​Let’s start with the good: Spider-Man: Far From Home is a solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is a decent introduction into Marvel’s next phase of onscreen storytelling. It’s pace drags a bit at times (especially near the beginning of the film), but there’s a lot of action, the CGI is ok, and the story generally keeps moving. The performances are good and Tom Holland is still the best Spider-Man that we’ve yet seen on film. Plus, the stakes are oddly compelling: the destruction of the world isn’t always at hand, but as an audience, we keenly feel (on many levels) the importance of Spider-Man winning his battles both against his enemies, as well as those against his own insecurities.
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All that said Spider-Man, in its current MCU incarnation, needs to move on from the character being an awkward high schooler, sooner rather than later. Parker’s romantic travails do provide some occasionally hilarious comedic fodder, but more often than not, they slow down and muddle a story that already has a lot of moving pieces. Besides that, if there’s one glaring problem with Far From Home, it’s that it doesn’t completely succeed at being it’s own film due to being designed as bridge between Marvel movies that came before it and those that will come after.
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I’ll admit, part of me is probably slightly biased to see the flaws in this film after recently seeing (and being blown away by) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But Spider-Man: Far From Home is just not a great movie in my view. It lacks the audacity of Spider-Verse and the sense of, well…homecoming that’s in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Far From Home serves it’s purposes: it entertains while making it unambiguously clear that Marvel has entered a new era. I both like it and recommend it. I just don’t think that Marvel fans need the incessant reminders that things will never be the same that Far From Home beats into us.
Rating: 7.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Stranger Things: Season Three]]>Mon, 08 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-stranger-things-season-three
By Dave B.
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​In the third season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, the gang is growing up and romantic relationships test their bonds of friendship. Meanwhile, a secret Russian experiment threatens to unleash the Mind Flayer upon the world. Can the Hawkins crew re-forge their bonds in time to save their town and the world?
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I have mixed feelings about this eight episode season of Stranger Things. It’s undoubtedly entertaining and extremely easy to binge watch. The story is interesting and the addition of Maya Hawke to the cast as Robin, works perfectly. She’s a gem. The show is also quite emotionally moving, particularly the final episode. It manages to be dramatic and heartbreaking in ways that fit well with the story. 
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But for me, there’s definitely something a bit off in Season Three. It’s hard for me to nail down, because it’s more of a feeling than an objective observation, but the episodes don’t always feel “crisp”. The show manages to avoid any major and inexplicable detours such as Season Two’s awful “The Lost Sister” episode. However, for almost the entirety of this season, the cast is separated from each other, both literally and figuratively. Some of the interpersonal dynamics that viewers have grown accustomed to in previous seasons are gone just due to a lack of proximity between the characters. Yes, that’s a good representation of growing up, but it also increases the number of moving pieces in the plot. In some ways, viewing Season Three is like watching three distinct shows. Also, I personally almost always find teenage emotional drama to be overwrought, boring, and ultimately poor for a show’s pacing. Stranger Things definitely suffers from a bit of that problem.
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Ultimately, my issues with this season of Stranger Things don’t diminish the show’s entertainment value. It’s still easy to lose oneself in the world of Hawkins and that’s why we watch the show. There are some real bright spots in Season Three, I definitely recommend watching it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the writers do for Season Four. But I also feel that the show is at an inflection point: it’s often sprawling instead of focused which is kind of weird for a show that takes place in a small town and frankly, this season’s emotional resonance doesn’t always make up for the fact it’s large cast and multiple plotlines don’t always feel like they do all of the characters justice. 
Rating: 8/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Catch-22]]>Sat, 06 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-catch-22
By Dave B.
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Based on the classic satirical novel of the same name, Catch-22 (Hulu) follows Yossarian and his bomber squadron as they fight their way up through Italy in the final act of the European campaign of WWII. For Yossarian and his compatriots, it seems as if the war will never end as the number of missions they must fly in order to be sent home is constantly raised. Yossarian tries every trick that he can think of (except for some of the most obvious ones) to try to avoid the missions and postpone what he sees as a pointless death in a war that is nearly won.
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Here’s a little known fact about me: “Catch-22” is my favorite novel, bar none. I had a great teacher in undergrad who taught us how to read it (an odd concept, but if you’ve ever read the book, you know that some instruction in the proper way to understand and interpret it is a definite plus) and opened up the world of literary satire and absurdism to me in a way that I’ll forever be thankful for. The six episode Catch-22 miniseries does a decent (but not exceptional) job of capturing the spirit of its source material. 
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The parts of Catch-22 that I appreciate the most are the performances (which are excellent) and the cinematography, which manages to goregeously contrast the horrors of war with the beauty of Italy. From a production standpoint, Catch-22 is a great show. My main issue with Catch-22, however, is that it comes of as more of a tragedy than as a satire. The two genres can certainly go hand-in-hand and often the best examples of one include hefty dollops of the other. But part of what made the novel so great (and what the show doesn’t convey as well nor as consistently) is that hierarchy, and the bureaucracy that enables it, have been and continue to be, two of the biggest sources of human misery. In the show, Yossarian comes off as more of a coward that can be empathized with, than as one of the few people in the world who have retained their sanity and ability to reason and can make audiences laugh at his (and our) existential predicament. Plus the show’s efforts to capture the book’s macabre/absurd humor often fall flat due to being dramatized instead of allowing viewers to draw their own mental and emotional conclusions.
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In short, Catch-22 doesn’t fully capture the spirit of the novel. In no way does that make the miniseries bad, but it places it in an awkward position: those who have read the book are likely to come away disappointed and those who haven’t are unlikely to recognize the story for the epically subversive gem that it is. Nevertheless, I recommend Catch-22. It’s beautiful, both in scenery and acting, and is worth the five hours or so of your time that you’d have to give to watch it. Just don’t go into expecting a completely satisfying representation of the original material. 
Rating: 6/10
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<![CDATA[Premieres 2019: July 5 - July 11]]>Thu, 04 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/premieres-2019-july-5-july-11
By Dave B.
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"Premieres" will feature official trailers and synopses from what I feel looks like the most interesting (or the only, in some cases) original programming coming out in the subsequent week on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and elsewhere. In no way to these previews represent recommendations or reviews. My intent is to post this segment each Thursday or Friday, but we'll see. Enjoy!
Harlots: Season Three - Hulu, July 10
Synopsis:
"
Set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London, Harlots continues to follow the fortunes of the Wells family. Margaret (Samantha Morton) has been sent to America in chains; Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville) is vanquished and in Bedlam. It seems that the Wells girls can free themselves of their mother’s feud, but running a lucrative brothel brings new enemies. Meanwhile Lydia, in her darkest hour, still finds a way to bite. Inspired by the stories of real women, Harlots is a powerful family drama as explored from the female perspective. The series hails from the creative team of Moira Buffini, Alison Newman, Alison Owen, Debra Hayward and Alison Carpenter."
Cities of Last Things - Netflix, July 11
Synopsis:
​"
This arresting tale from Ho Wi Ding, told in reverse-chronological order, reveals one man’s fraught inner world and the circumstances that led to a life-altering decision."
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<![CDATA[Review of Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse]]>Mon, 01 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-spider-man-into-the-spider-verse
By Dave B.
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​We all know the general outline of the story: In Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (currently on Netflix), teenager Miles Morales finds himself thrust into the role of Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He faces incredible odds, suffers devastating losses, and manages to find a way to stand up again. It’s a tale as old as time (or at least as old as human storytelling) so the key to tell it successfully is to do so in new, creative, and compelling ways. Spider-Verse accomplishes these goals and so much more. 
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I’ll save the suspense: Spider-Verse is probably the best new movie that I’ve seen in my year-plus of reviewing movies. All of the main characters are likeable and relatable, the soundtrack is great, and the animation is both quirky and sophisticated. From a purely technical perspective, Spider-Verse is about as good as it gets when it comes to American animated feature films and televisions shows
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​More impressively, I would go so far as to contend that Spider-Verse manages to do what no other superhero movie has done: make a plausible case for it’s title character to supplant Superman as the global representative of American values in the this generation. I’ve made no secret of my issues with Superman both as a hero and as a storytelling device. Heroes that are always good and nearly all-powerful aren’t just boring, they’re also impossible to relate and aspire to. In Spider-Verse’s depiction of Morales and other alternate universe Spider-Beings, we’re presented with heroes who are powerful and “fortunate” to have acquired their power, but who are not INHERENTLY better than humankind as a whole nor so overpowered that they can’t conceivably lose. As an audience, we like Morales (and the other Spider-Beings) because they strive, suffer, and overcome just like we do. 
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I have nothing negative to say about Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. For many movies, a 116 minute runtime can feel long, but I would not have minded another 15 minutes or so to this film. It’s combination of heroism and humor (and it’s VERY funny at times) is a delight. I can’t recommend it more highly and the only reason that I’m not giving it a Perfect 10 rating is that it doesn’t inspire in me the same depth of feeling that as the two members of that rarefied list. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, now’s the time. I promise you won’t regret it. 
Rating: 9.5/10
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<![CDATA[Review of Good Omens]]>Sat, 29 Jun 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/review-of-good-omens
By Dave B.
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The apocalypse is nigh! In Good Omens (Amazon) the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and demon Crowley (David Tennant) have a forbidden friendship that’s been developing since the dawn of time. When the end of the world draws near with the birth of the antichrist, the duo must confront the powers of both heaven and hell to protect the Earth that they’ve both grown to love. 
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​In six, hour long episodes, Good Omens manages an impressive amount of worldbuilding, accompanied by a humorous take on human history and courtesy clever writing, filled with fairly dry British humor and narration by God (Frances McDormand). At its core, Good Omens is less about the world’s impending doom and more about the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley. Sheen is good in his role as the wayward, hedonistic, but good-hearted angel, but it’s Tennant who really steals the show (not a surprise, at all). He perfectly portrays Crowley as evil and full of avarice, but ultimately redeemable and lovable. The dynamic between the two main character definitely carries the show.
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​And that’s a good thing because some aspects of Good Omens are…less than ideal. For a show about the apocalypse, Good Omens does a rather poor job at conveying a sense of impending doom to the audience. Instead of dread, the end of the world feels abstract and surreal, which is a bit off-putting. There’s nothing wrong with setting a buddy-comedy at the end of the world, but it never feels as if the end is especially relevant and that deprives a lot of the actions and decisions that take place in the show from having a sense of importance and contributes to the problem that although none of the episodes feel egregiously long, the show isn’t the easiest binge-watch, as there is little urgency to find out what happens next.
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Overall, Good Omens is a good show that is well short of greatness. It’s nearly unitary focus on Aziraphale and Crowley is both a strength and a weakness, as it highlights talented actors who benefit from having good chemistry together and good writing, while diminishing the importance of the show’s overall setting and plot. I’m glad I watched Good Omens and I do recommend it. But it doesn’t live up to its potential. In short, watch it for Tennant (and Sheen). Most of the rest is just window dressing.
Rating: 7/10
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<![CDATA[Premieres 2019: June 28 - July 4]]>Thu, 27 Jun 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://nothingtosayhere.com/daves-movie-reviews/premieres-2019-june-28-july-4
By Dave B.
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"Premieres" will feature official trailers and synopses from what I feel looks like the most interesting (or the only, in some cases) original programming coming out in the subsequent week on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and elsewhere. In no way to these previews represent recommendations or reviews. My intent is to post this segment each Thursday or Friday, but we'll see. Enjoy!
Spider-Man: Far From Home - In Theaters, July 2
Synopsis:
​"
Peter Parker returns in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the next chapter of the Spider-Man: Homecoming series! Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent."
The Last Czars - Netflix, July 3
Synopsis:
"
When social upheaval sweeps Russia in the early 20th century, Czar Nicholas II resists change, sparking a revolution and ending a dynasty."
Stranger Things: Season Three - Netflix, July 4
Synopsis:
​"
It’s 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana, and summer’s heating up. School’s out, there’s a brand new mall in town, and the Hawkins crew are on the cusp of adulthood. Romance blossoms and complicates the group’s dynamic, and they’ll have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart. Meanwhile, danger looms. When the town’s threatened by enemies old and new, Eleven and her friends are reminded that evil never ends; it evolves. Now they’ll have to band together to survive, and remember that friendship is always stronger than fear."
Into The Dark: Culture Shock - Hulu, July 4
Synopsis:
"
Told in Spanish and English, this thriller follows a young Mexican woman in pursuit of the American Dream, who crosses illegally into the United States, only to find herself in an American nightmare. "
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