What’s Good? (Best of Winter TV 2017… & Iron Fist)

I haven’t done one of these in a while.

I guess it’s hard to make lists of what’s good in the world of entertainment when the real world is going to hell in a hand-basket… a hand-basket made of shit.

Once again, Legion, you’ve summed up my feelings precisely.

I know we can’t read tone and inflection on the internet. And sometimes the actual meaning of what we want to say is lost in its misinterpretation. So I’m gonna need for all of you reading this to picture the next sentence with ALL the sarcasm. (ALL OF IT!!!)

“The United States is in a really good place right now.”

“Is that supposed to be some kind of a joke?” “Hey. Hey. Hey. He didn’t mean it like that.”

So instead of spending all day in fear, I have chosen to escape to the land of nod. You know what I mean. While we wait for the next embarrassment, the next offense or the next outrage, I’ll be looking for the next distraction until the revolution starts. (which will not be on TV by the way).

Personally I blame the internet for all of this, but that’s a story for another time.

“Does that mean we WON’T be needing the goat?”

The goat stays.

What follows is a list of TV shows that are freaking unbelievably good and entertaining and well-written and sexy and escapist and brilliant and words fail me. And while it is true that I have talked about most of these in the past… THEY’RE STILL AMAZING.

I think Winter is my favorite TV season.

Let me explain…

“Get on with it, Melvin.”

The Americans is back and better than ever. That show has been consistently good from day one and will go down as one of the best in history.  Bates Motel is having their best season as well. Vera Farmiga has actually turned it up a notch (give the woman an Emmy already). Girls on HBO, just a couple of weeks ago, aired the best episode in its entire series run. A brilliant stand-alone story, that featured Matthew Rhys from The Americans by coincidence, which was just a conversation between a young writer and her creepy literary idol. (Rarely do I watch a show and then watch it again right after. I’ve already watched the episode three times. I wish it were a movie). The Superheroes on the CW are kicking ass on a weekly basis (even DC Legends has gotten better now that it’s embraced its fundamental silliness and monumental nerdy-ness).

Jane the Virgin lost its virginity but did not lose its creativity or its charm. And there are lots of new bisexual characters on my favorite shows. (That list is coming soon… it’s mostly women this time. Not my fault. There’s a shortage of bi men and an abundance of bi women recently. I’m not complaining. Well, I’m kind of complaining. I’m both complaining and not complaining. It’s confusing… that’s a joke). Star Wars Rebels has been amaze-balls this season. Running almost parallel with the events of Rogue One and setting up A New Hope (I almost want to spoil it but I can’t). BEN!!! (I couldn’t help it). Black SailsHomeland the list goes on.

But I’m not talking about any of those shows here today.

“Am I wrong or did he not just talk about them?” “Here comes the part we’ve been waiting for, sire.” “Well don’t just stand there. Keep cranking that monkey.”

What follows is a list of ten absolutely fantastic (relatively new) TV shows (with one notable exception…One of these shows is actually complete and utter garbage. But we’ll get to that one later… okay it’s Iron Fist… I can’t keep a secret).

So ask me the question already…

Go ahead.

Ask me.

Not THAT question, you idiot.

WHAT’S GOOD?

I’m glad you asked.

The Expanse (SyFy)

Developed by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby

Based on The Expanse series of novels by James S. A. Corey

Starring Thomas JaneSteven StraitCas AnvarDominique TipperWes ChathamPaulo CostanzoFlorence FaivreShawn DoyleShohreh Aghdashloo & Frankie Adams

“It’s been too long since we’ve had a really kick-ass space opera.”  – George R.R. Martin

We’re in season two now, so if you don’t know The Expanse, you’re a little late to the party but there’s still time for you to catch up. There are three main factions in the 23rd century: Earth (Earthers, Inners, Tumang), all the power, all the resources, United Nations controlled, corrupt bureaucrats and corporations;

“Is that a gun in my pocket or am I just happy to see you?” “It better be a gun.”

Mars Colony (Martians, Inners, Pomang), lacking in resources but making up for it in military might, they put all their effort into building a strong military because they were tired of being Earth’s red-headed step-child;

“Unte kowlting gut, to pochuye ke?”

and The Belt (Belters, Outer Planets, Beltalowda), the workers, born in space, mining asteroids and the moons of Jupiter for water and other resources, no resources of their own, no military, but without them Mars would have no way to get water. Without them Earth corporations would have no leverage over Mars.

Kewe to pensa ere The Expanse, beratna?

There’s a war coming between Earth and Mars. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t read the books but it’s like winter in Game of Thrones; that shit is right around the corner. And yes I just compared it to Game of Thrones. The Expanse is THAT good. Great performances, great story, great direction, fantastic special effects. The Expanse is quite possibly the best thing on TV right now with a language all its own.

But while The Expanse might be the best thing on TV right now, it is not my favorite thing on TV right now. My favorite thing is…

The Magicians (SyFy)

Created by Sera Gamble & John McNamara

Based on The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Starring Jason RalphStella MaeveOlivia Taylor DudleyHale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer BishilRick Worthy & Jade Tailor

“Did you bring me little cakes?” – Umber (Horned Golden Ram God of Fillory)

The Magicians is like if Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a baby and that baby grew up to be as hot as Emma Watson is right now. Oh my god, I love this show so much. Seriously.

Queen Margo and King Eliot

The Magicians is also in its second season and if you’re not watching it… I don’t know, I question your judgement. This show is sensational. And I know I’ve said this a bunch of times but I’m just going to keep right on saying it. I love everything about this show. I love the cast. I love the writing. I love the world. I love the story. And I love that it is the most bi-friendly TV show since True Blood (and you know how I love to see healthy bisexual representation on my TV).

“Is he talking about bisexuality again?” “We get it. You like guys and girls. We’re over it.”

This show has it all. Magic. Mystery. Adventure. Comedy. Time travel. Six-fingered bad guys singing show tunes. Large magical creatures wearing diapers. Hot teachers. Hot librarians. Hot students. Hot teachers and hot librarians hooking up with hot students. Little cakes. Did I mention the little cakes?

The Royal Family

Just watch the show.

Next… more magic.

Emerald City (NBC)

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Based on the Oz book series by L. Frank Baum

Starring Adria ArjonaOliver Jackson-CohenAna UlaruMido HamadaGerran Howell, Jordan Loughran, Joely Richardson & Vincent D’Onofrio

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” – Dorothy Gale

Okay Emerald City just ended its first season and I see a lot of people putting it down but I, for one, enjoyed it. You know me. I’m all in for a good re-imagining of the classics. And with Emerald City, Tarsem Singh created my favorite version of the Land of Oz. A steam punk meets Song of Ice and Fire meets Cirque du Soleil, Land of Oz with giants and warring factions and flying monkey drones and outlawed magic and witches… and guns. And witches with guns. I really liked this show.

‘I am the Wizard of Oz.” “I thought you were the Kingpin.” “Can’t a man be both?”

In fact, I loved it. And I sincerely hope it comes back for another season and I hope Tarsem directs every episode again. Because it’s so gorgeous that I wanted to watch each one again… and I probably will. If I ever find the time. There’s so much good TV.

Next… I don’t even know what to call this one. It’s not a superhero show.

Legion (FX)

Created by Noah Hawley

Based on Legion by Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz

Starring Dan StevensRachel KellerAubrey PlazaBill IrwinJeremie HarrisAmber MidthunderKatie Aselton & Jean Smart

“What is your name?”  – Jesus (from the bible)

“My name is Legion. For we are many.”  – Legion (also from the bible)

Okay. Okay. I watched the first episode of Legion, the new comic book based show from the creator of Fargo, and I was like, wow that was pretty bland. Then after the second episode I felt like I knew more what they were trying to get at and felt it was worth my time. After episode three I was seriously hooked. I loved the characters. I loved the sixties fashion. The tongue-in-cheek attitude. It’s amazingly original and fun and I was completely wrong about it. Well anyway, we’re six episodes in and it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my fucking life… IN MY LIFE!!! It is frightening how good this show is. Frightening. (I think I’m gonna cry… seriously)

“So tell me are we inside your mind or outside your mind right now?” “I don’t know.” “Well that’s kind of scary don’t you think?” “Scary is not the word for it.”

Legion is about a powerful mutant. The back-story is that he’s Professor X’s kid (they may or may not keep this for the show but it doesn’t matter) and he’s got reality warping powers. Basically he’s the most powerful mutant on the planet (possibly in the universe) with awesome god-like powers. Now, that would be boring for a story because basically he can do anything he wants at any time but… you see… he’s not entirely sane in his mind. Also he’s not entirely alone in there either. So most of the comic book takes place in his mind. His main bad guy is inside him. And if you’re thinking, well how the hell are they going to bring that to TV and make it enjoyable. They did it. They fucking did it. And I think I’m going to cry. It’s so good.

“What’s for dinner? Is it chaos again? Are we having utter chaos again?”

Legion is really good and done very well. Noah Hawley has done an excellent job. Fargo is one of the coolest shows on TV and Legion is right up there with it. But it still kind of frightens me because it could go so wrong so fast. I really hope it stays grounded.

And I also like seeing heroes coping with mental disorders in my fiction (almost as much as I like seeing bisexual heroes) It’s refreshing and it’s identifiable.

Oh shit.

To the list!!!

Top Ten Fictional Heroes with Mental Disorders:

10. StormX-Men – Severe Claustrophobia

9. Martin RiggsLethal Weapon – Suicidal, Manic Depressive

8. Tony Stark/Iron Man – Extreme Narcissist (comics), PTSD (movies)

7. Carrie MathesonHomeland – Manic Depressive – Borderline

6. Jason BourneThe Bourne Identity – Amnesic, Dissociate

5. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk –  Multiple Identity Disorder, (Split Personality)

4. David Haller/Legion – Schizophrenic, (see also Demonic Possession)

“That’s me. Everybody dance.”

3. Bruce Wayne/Batman – Obsessive, Compulsive, Social Phobic

2. Sherlock Holmes – Obsessive, Compulsive, Narcissistic, Sociopath

1. James Bond – Dissociate, Extreme Sociopath (Bordering on Psycho)

It was a quickly thrown together list with very likely mislabeled or misdiagnosed disorders but it was fun to compile.

But anyway. I love Legion on FX. I love the casting. I love the story. I love that it’s funny and absurd and romantic. I love that they respect the source material, making it the most original and creative television show in history. Legion is almost too good. Nope. It is literally too good. Because shows that are this good do not last for long (And just thinking about it going away makes me want to cry).

Next… Aliens

Colony (USA)

Created by Carlton Cuse

Starring Josh HollowaySarah Wayne CalliesPeter JacobsonAmanda RighettiTory KittlesAlex Neustaedter & Isabella Crovetti-Cramp

“I’m sorry if I still have a little crush on Sawyer and Carl’s mom.”  – Mel 

Colony is finishing up its second season and it was better than the first. Colony is the story of Earth after alien invasion. Humans are separated into colonies by force and into two factions; Collaborators and Resistance, by necessity.

“Sawyer?” “Yeah, Carl’s mom?” “Do you think Mel will be able to imagine us as anything other than those two characters?” “With our clothes on or off?” “Good point.”

The two lead actors are both very hot, which adds to my enjoyment of the show (sue me. I’d like to have sex with both of these people Is that so wrong? Should I keep that to myself?). Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies play Will and Katie Bowman. One works for the authority and the other runs with the resistance. But it’s not like they’re on opposite sides. They are on each other’s side. It makes for a great story. And the writing is what I like best. Colony has a good premise. And a good mystery. And Carlton Cuse doesn’t slowly drip out the answers like he’s done in the past. We start learning about the aliens early on. But there is still a lot more to learn.

“Just as long as nobody moves and nobody mentions Prison Break we’ll be fine.”

The stories are gritty and cool and suspenseful. And the action and the political drama make Colony one of the best shows on TV right now. And season two cranks up the suspense and brings the rest of the family into the story. So they’re turning into a family of bad-asses and I love that shit.

Let’s move over to Netflix

Love (Netflix)

Created by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin & Paul Rust

Starring Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust & Claudia O’Doherty

“I once had sex w/ a guy whose dick was so small I thought it was a clitoris.” – Bertie Bauer

Love is the story of two broken people trying to make a relationship work. It is quirky and funny and absurd (but in a yeah that could totally happen sort of way). It stars Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust, one of the shows creators, who is not the best actor but embodies the character to a Woody Allen type level. But Gillian is the stand out here for me. She plays this fragile warrior sex addict to perfection and I just want to scoop her up and plop her on my couch. Him, not so much.

“Him not so much? What does that even mean?” “Well at least he doesn’t want to plop you on his couch. Plop me? Is that a euphemism? Is that a sex act?”

I find him more annoying than likable but it’s not a deal-breaker because it’s a very well-written show. And he is a three-dimensional character. I just sometimes wish he had cast another actor to play his part. But look at me, I’m finding fault in something I love. Blowing a little problem out of proportion. Like some kind of self-sabotage. Ignore me.

Do people still smoke? Is that like still a thing? I don’t get out much.

Love is very funny with a lot of great minor characters. The two main characters both work in entertainment, her in radio, him in TV. And the show spends a lot of time on their separate lives. On their work and on their friends. So when they come together, it’s almost like two separate shows connecting through them. It’s a brilliant structure.

“I’m not Woody Allen. I’m not even Jewish. I’m Catholic. And this… this is not Annie Hall.”

And I’m sorry I insulted it before. It’s always only been about them. I mean I like Catastrophe too. Catastrophe is a great relationship show on Amazon. But the characters aren’t as likable. Don’t get me wrong, I think Catastrophe is very funny. And it’s not like I like Amazon more than Netflix. And it’s not like me and Netflix were exclusive or anything. But look at me, talking about another show and another network in my review. I really suck at this.

“This oughta shut you up.” “You said that into my mouth.”

Let me explain. You see, I’m sort of TV addicted and it’s hard for me to commit to just one show or just one network. But I think I’m ready. Can we start over?

Travelers (Netflix)

Created by Brad Wright

Starring Eric McCormackMacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman & Patrick Gilmore

“I distracted myself from the fear and terrorism by thinking about things like how the universe began and whether time travel is possible.”  – Malala Yousafzai

Here’s a show I just discovered on Netflix and was completely blown away. Travelers is a time travel drama like Continuum meets Quantum Leap meets 12 Monkeys. It is some of the tightest time travel writing around. This show is extremely well-written and intelligent and deals with Time Travel paradox in a smart and original way.

Protocol 4 – Don’t Reproduce

But, by far, the best thing about Travelers is the characters. Each of the “travelers” from the future assume the identity and take over the body of a person from our time who is about to die. Seconds before they die. So, first they have to save their own life and then they become that person. And from that moment on they have to pretend to be that person who should actually be dead, all the while knowing only what they learned about them from social media and computer databases in the future. Not the most accurate.

Protocol 1 – The Mission Comes First

The travelers have a precise list of protocols that govern their actions. This is another fantastic part of the show. Like mini prime directives (from Star Trek) that control their behavior so that they don’t do too much damage to the time-line. But if you know time-travel shows then you know that’s laughable.

Protocol 3 – Don’t Take a Life. Don’t Save a Life.

Travelers is an action and adventure show that’s good just from that perspective but it’s the drama in assuming and continuing the life of some one who would have died, that makes Travelers truly outstanding. This is some brilliant writing. With good performances. And a great cast.

Protocol 5 – In The Absence of Direction, Maintain Your Host’s Life

Travelers is fantastic and it has been renewed for a second season… THANK THE DIRECTOR. (that’s a Travelers joke. It’s very funny. Just watch the show)

Next… from Brazil…

3% (Netflix)

Created by Pedro Aguilera

Starring Bianca ComparatoJoão Miguel, Michel Gomes & Rodolfo Valente

“People who would go to an art house cinema and watch a (foreign) movie and read subtitles… it’s a small percentage.” – Steven Zaillian

The 3% is a science fiction drama from Brazil. Watch it with the subtitles people. I know that means you have to actually pay attention and you can’t look away for a few seconds to check your phones but it’s worth it for the original performances and not just the English dub. But if you need to watch it dubbed then watch it dubbed. I’ll just sit in quiet judgement. It really doesn’t matter. The story is awesome either way.

Michel Gomes as Fernando Carvalho

3% is an intriguing story about an overpopulated city in the future and a “process” they use to decide who gets to live in a Utopia just offshore. Only 3% get selected, young people, and they only get one chance to make it through the trials… the process.

Bianca Comparato as Michele Santana

Of course there are other things going on. There are machinations behind the scenes and politics and a rebellion against the process. And then of course there is a love story. And a story of survival. And redemption. And… the show is awesome. I kid you not.

3% has Tough Guys with pipes

But the main story follows several “candidates” as they go through the trials. It’s like The 100 meets The Hunger Games meets Logan’s Run. It’s very good. There are eight fantastically suspenseful episodes of the first season. But I honestly don’t know if it’s as good dubbed as it is with subtitles. I watched it with the subtitles on because I’m all like sophisticated and shit. But you can always switch back and forth, if you’re easily distracted. (I’m just kidding. I kept forgetting that there were subtitles. And I would look down to check my phone. And then realize that I didn’t actually understand what they were saying when I wasn’t looking. It was awful… the internet has destroyed us).

3% has Heartbreaking Romance

3% is a really cool Brazilian Netflix series that has been confirmed for a second season.

And then there’s…

Iron Fist (Netflix)

Iron Fist Poster Not Found. #IronFisted

Created by Scott Buck

Based on Iron Fist by Roy Thomas & Gil Kane

Starring Finn JonesJessica HenwickTom PelphreyJessica StroupRamón RodríguezSacha DhawanRosario Dawson & David Wenham

“His fist glows, he’s got a beard, he has enemies. Boom. Now let’s do the team-up thing.”  – Marvel Television

I know. I know. Let’s slam on the brakes for a second. Iron Fist is horrible. It is awful. It’s like instead of a script they had an eleven year-old kid flailing his arms and making kung-fu noises. “And then Iron Fist goes BAM. And then the bad guy is like POW. But Iron Fist’s got him in a headlock and WOOSH and then a kick and then a punch… got it? Okay? ACTION!!!” and yes the kid was also the director.

He actually farts and was trying to play it off by beating one of her students and that makes more sense than what happens on the screen in Marvel’s Netflix’s Iron Fist.

No honestly, it’s the worse show. But look at it this way. The Defenders can only be better. There’s no way it could be any worse. Iron Fist is total garbage. Netflix had painted themselves into a corner. Daredevil was amazing. And then Jessica Jones was even better than that. So then season two of Daredevil was only pretty good and we’re like maybe they leveled off but then… Luke Cage was fucking great too. It was too much good. And they had already committed to release The Defenders. So all they had to do was put out an Iron Fist series. And you get to a point where there is just too much good. And all that’s left on the creative pile is crap. The Defenders or Iron Fist or both was going to have to be crap. It’s the nature of the universe. It’s just basic physics.

Sometimes they have to sacrifice acting for fighting ability and sometimes they have to sacrifice fighting ability for acting chops. It’s rare when they sacrifice both for naturally curly hair.

So what Iron Fist did was it took one for the team. It used up all the negative space. It sucked up all the crap. And it lowered expectations for the team-up. Iron Fist is as relatively bad as all three of the other Marvel Netflix origin seasons are good… combined. It’s that bad. It’s so bad that The Defenders is going to be Earth-shattering by comparison. You can’t get worse than Iron Fist without losing subscribers. You also can’t make something that cheesy looking and not realize it. The sets are laughable. I thought I was watching old Star Trek reruns. They show the kid being beaten by monks in what’s supposed to be a monastery in a mystical city but they look like they’re in a re-purposed janitor’s closet. It’s bad.

Why does Iron Fist have an erection? Does anyone know? And why is he on a Star Trek planet?

It’s impressively bad. The dialogue is practically offensive. It’s so awful. They used to sneak out of the monastery to have donkey meat? Where is this donkey meat cart located? Or are they killing someone else’s donkey, eating a very small part of it and leaving the rest to rot? Unless he’s talking about sucking a donkey’s dick, it makes absolutely no sense. I can’t start talking about the show critically because I’m just going to get angry.

“No questions… yes, you have a question?”

But I’m still recommending that everyone watch Iron Fist. You’ll want to turn it off after episode three but don’t. And no it doesn’t get any better. It actually gets worse. There’s no humor. There’s no romance. And the so-called bad guys are totally right. Danny Rand is an awful person. As one guy puts it. He’s the worse Iron Fist ever. But… Oh my god. There’s a scene where Iron Fist is being chased through a crowd and to blend in he picks up a mask and puts it on his face. DOESN’T CHANGE HIS CLOTHES or his jacket or anything. He isn’t facing the guy chasing him… like as if that would matter anyway. But then he loses the guy because he doesn’t see him wearing that dumb mask. There is no way they couldn’t tell what they were making was garbage. There’s no way they couldn’t tell. It had to be made shitty on purpose.

“Yes we did just fly to China on a private jet and kidnap someone and take them back to America with us on that same private jet… why do you ask? Is that hard to do?”

So now I’m convinced that Iron Fist was made bad on purpose. And I want to thank the makers. They took a bullet for the team. Pour out a little for the dead on arrival Iron Fist. I mean it is monumentally awful. Truly, truly awful. But it can only serve to make The Defenders look incredible by comparison.

And lastly one pilot from Amazon…

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Pilot)

Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino

Starring Rachel Brosnahan, Tony Shalhoub, Marin Hinkle & Alex Borstein

“Women are smart and funny. Get over it.”  – Eric Cartman

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is about a 1950’s housewife who decides to become one of the first female stand-up comics. It is a fantastic period drama about comedy from the creator of Gilmore Girls. And it has that quick-witted Gilmore Girls style to the writing and the dialogue. But the best part is the marvelous Rachel Brosnahan in the title role.

“Who makes a toast at her own wedding? I do.”

Mrs. Maisel is the story of the most amazingly funny and smart and cute and remarkable woman. It is hard (really hard) not to fall in love with her. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is like Mad Men meets 30 Rock meets I don’t know Buffy? It’s the story of a pioneering female comedian in the late fifties. Maybe she’s Phyllis Diller. Maybe she’s Carol Burnett. Maybe she’s amazing.

“Yes my phone has a cord connecting it to the base. That’s how you know it’s the fifties and not the eighties or the nineties. Why do you ask? And where the hell is my microwave oven?”

She’s awesome. I love funny women and the show makes you fall in love with her almost immediately as she deals with the 50’s era and then accidentally discovers that she has a talent for making people laugh. It’s just a pilot right now but please check it out. It’s the best they have this season on Amazon. I watched them all. There’s not a lot of good there. And I hope The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel doesn’t get buried in that pile because it’s great even when compared to established shows. It’s just a thousand times better than the other pilots this season.

“Dear Diary. I can do so much better than this schmo. Love Midge. PS. I have half a mind to tell the driver to take me to Mel’s house. But it’s the fifties and he’s a negro.”

And I really really really want to see more of her… of it… I mean the show… of the show… okay I’m in love with the character. Bring her back. I have a thing for funny smart women (Fictional, Non-fictional). I always have. It’s a sickness. I find smart and funny women sexy as all hell.

Watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Pilot Season… please.

So that’s what’s good.

Find these shows. Watch these shows. Love these shows as much as I do. And then you’ll be all caught up and ready for the return of Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Dark Matter. Just to name a few.

“Om Mani Padme… um… um… I want to say Om again but that can’t be right.”

Man. When I was a kid there was like a handful of superhero shows and a few more space adventures and a couple of sword & sorcery shows, but they were mostly all crap.

You kids have it so much better than we did.

We had to watch crappy science fiction on TV all the time.

AND YOU NEVER THANKED US!!!

– Mel

Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Star Trek Beyond

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures)

Star Trek Beyond Poster

Directed by Justin Lin

Written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung  Based on Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

Starring John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris PineZachary QuintoZoe SaldanaKarl UrbanAnton Yelchin & Idris Elba

Star Trek Beyond starts off a little weak but it comes on strong in the second half delivering the same (new) Star Trek action and excitement and laughs and cool shit we have come to associate with JJ Abrams and the Trek Franchise. I really liked it.

Verdict: SPARED

star-trek-beyond-bridge-crew

I had a problem with the story of Star Trek Beyond early on. There was a lack of discipline and naval or nautical clarity. They’re not military, I know, but it is a space vessel with a hierarchy. Are there no regulations? But anyway. Then for some reason when anyone from the crew are asked who they are they all need to give their full names. Everybody uses their last names. That’s how it’s always been. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura. We get it. You’re a fan and you know the character’s first names. And I know it seems petty but it bothered me a lot. But then the movie got really exciting and I forgot about all that crap.

Star-Trek-Beyond-Idris-Elba

Beyond is a good story. Simon Pegg does a great job of distributing the action. This is truly an ensemble cast. Where the original series was very Captain Kirk-centric. Or at least the top three. Kirk, Spock and McCoy got most of the screen time. Here Simon Pegg gives everyone a meaty role in the action and everyone a chance to be the hero.

Star Trek Beyond with Sulu and Uhura

The new Star Trek movies have great music. I love Michael Giacchino‘s score. It’s a nice mix of old and new and brand new. But there are also some classic tunes from Public Enemy and The Beastie Boys included in the soundtrack. And I don’t entirely hate the new Rihanna song Sledgehammer. The two rap songs play a large part in the plot which is pretty cool too. You know how they love that classical music.

star-trek-beyond

Star Trek Beyond is well-directed and I love the new cast. With the welcome addition of new allies and menacing villains and a great mystery and overwhelming odds, Justin Lin does a fantastic job of keeping the whole shebang moving and the mystery interesting. The franchise says goodbye to Leonard Nimoy in the movie with a touching and beautiful tribute that brought more than one tear to my eye. And they also honor Anton Yelchin’s passing, tastefully, in the end credits.

star-trek-beyond-simon-pegg

Star Trek Beyond is a fantastic installment to the new Trek franchise. Fun, exciting and entirely Trek. Some say it feels like a run-of-the-mill science fiction action film just wearing a Star Fleet uniform, but I disagree. The writers are clearly huge fans and the plot, the action, the dialogue and situations are pure Star Trek goodness. And I enjoyed it a lot more than Into Darkness. Beyond represents a return to form for the series.

STAR TREK BEYOND

RIP Anton. RIP Leonard. Good job guys. Bravo.

– Mel

5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD in September (Plus 2 Edition)

This installment of 5 Quick Reviews of 5 Movies on DVD is Super-Sized because it contains the six (count ’em six) DVDs that I review this month, including 2 extended reviews of movies I saw in the theater that are coming out on BluRay this month but also a review of a movie from 1996 that I saw for the first time a week ago. (It’s the Doctor Who Movie) That’s right that’s SEVEN movies.

SPECIAL NOTE: My Star Trek 2 and Iron Man 3 reviews include spoilers. Big ol’ nasty spoilers that will ruin the movies if you haven’t seen them yet. Be warned. They are both marked but the entire review in both cases is one big spoiler.

To the reviews…

Now You See Me (Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate)

Now You See Me Poster

Directed by Louis Leterrier

Written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Common, Michael Caine & Morgan Freeman

Now You See Me is a fun little movie. It’s not very good but it’s a fine distraction. It has a decent heist story. But I kind of wished the magic in it were either less fantastical or a little more so. It swings back and forth and back between possible magic, highly improbable magic and downright bullshit. But again it’s a fun movie. It’s not the best directed film or best acted but I really liked the story. The premise is pure fantasy but I like all these actors. It has a great cast and it has a good twist.

Now You See Me

So as long as you don’t take it too seriously, Now You See Me is a fun distraction. Sure there are other things you could be doing with the two hours, but if you’d rather not be doing those things that you should be doing (like rewriting) then Now You See Me is a decent waste of time.

That’s how I would describe it. Now You See Me is a waste of time but it’s a fun waste of time.

Rent it.

And now for the spolier-athon…

Star Trek: Into Darkness (Paramount Pictures)

Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman & Damon Lindelof

Starring John Cho, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Peter Weller & Anton Yelchin

ALL SPOILERS ALL THE TIME

SPOILERS!

Into darkness was not as good on the small screen as I remember it being in IMAX. It is, in essence, a remake, or a reboot, of the best Star Trek movie ever made; Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and I remember being excited that it was… just that, a remake of Wrath of Khan, when I was in the theater and it took me by surprise and everyone was yelling and clapping and all that fun crap but now that the fireworks are over with, I’m a little annoyed.

Kirk and Spock

Into Darkness just isn’t as re-watchable as some of the other Star Trek films. (J.J. Abrams’ first Trek I’ve watched more times than I can count and it gets better every time) But Into Darkness is as campy as The Voyage Home. Its dialogue is, at times, as moronic as The Final Frontier. It doesn’t have the awesome space battles that are the hallmark of Wrath of Khan and The Undiscovered Country. And worst of all, they bring back a dead Captain and explain it about as well as they did in Search for Spock. It is the worst parts of the Star Trek films that I didn’t like while forgetting to include the best parts of the ones I did like.

Star trek Into Darkness

I’ve watched it once in the theater and I watched it once on DVD and it’s like they are two different films.

The first one being an exciting Star Trek alternate timeline story of Kirk & Spock against Khan that even sets up the possibility of Khan returning in future films like he’s Kirk’s arch-enemy or something. The old trilogy formula of saving a heroes arch for the second movie. Loved it.

Khan

The second one is a tired and inadequate rehash of an already great story. And a filmmaking and writing copout of epic proportions. Even at times extracting scenes from the previous (and better) movie then twisting them a bit so as to annoy the shit out of me.

Khan

So I say these are two different Star Trek: Into Darkness films; The event movie that is an exciting time at the theater, And the campy, crappy, constantly reminding me of a better movie remake that should be avoided.

Skip it (It’s just not as good when you have time to think about how bad it is)

Next up on spoiler theater…

Iron Man 3 (Walt Disney Studios)

Iron Man 3

Directed by Shane Black

Written by Drew Pearce and Shane Black  Based on Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck & Jack Kirby

Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce & Ben Kingsley

ALL SPOILERS ALL THE TIME

SPOILERS!

After watching Iron Man 3 on DVD I am less offended by the The Mandarin debacle. It is still horrible and watching while knowing the twist makes the filmmakers attempts to fool the audience even more annoying. There is an entire scene in the movie that is included just to fool the audience and for no other reason. However, upon re-watching, I noticed that the rest of this movie is very very good. I think it may be the best of the Iron Man films… And except for that huge glaring mistake and the line at the end where Guy Pearce says “I am the Mandarin.” (That still angers me) it’s pretty fucking good.

Iron Man 3 Stark and Suit

The story is fantastic. Iron Man 3 has some of the best acting in the series. Some of the best banter in the series between Stark and… everyone. I loved the PTSD storyline. And I really liked the evolution of Pepper & Tony’s relationship.

Iron Man and Pepper

I even like the bad guys and how Stark created them in the beginning. A nice circle. (I like a nice circle). So, basically, if you just remove the name The Mandarin from Ben Kingsley’s character or say that he is pretending to be a villain from the 60’s called The Mandarin, (who is dead) then you have a perfect film. All I am asking for is a little respect for the source material. (just a little bit)

Iron Man 3 screenshot

Iron Man 3 is so close to being a perfect film. So close. And I think that is what annoys me most.

Rent it (It’s good but I don’t know if I will ever forgive them)

END SPOILERS!!!!

END SPOILERS!!!

next movie…

The Great Gatsby (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Great Gatsby

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce  Based on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher & Jason Clarke

The Great Gatsby doesn’t take itself seriously enough. For one, the choice of contemporary music dates the film a great deal. With a period film like this one, that creates some musical confusion. The film already has a music period. A period with some ridiculously good music. Sure it’s not rap and R&B but there is some truly fantastic 1920’s jazz music that folks used to swing to. And they could still have added a contemporary flavor to it. It would have been awesome.

Jay Gatsby

But what Baz Luhrmann does in Gatsby takes me completely out the film. Every time I hear Jay-Z’s voice it feels like a gimmick. I like the story. I loved Leo in it. Carrie Mulligan is exquisite. So really it is just the music that I had a problem with. It is a BIG problem.

Carrie Mulligan

And I like Baz. I loved his Romeo & Juliet and I thought Moulin Rouge was pretty fucking good. But the Great Gatsby is not good. Because it suffers from the contemporary music. It’s not a musical. It’s a party. A party in the 20’s where they are dancing to rap music. But I think the music is indicative of a larger problem. The film just doesn’t take itself seriously enough. So why should we. It feels like a waste of time.

Skip It (It’s a waste of time just like Gatsby’s parties)

Disconnect (LD Entertainment)

Disconnect

Directed by Henry Alex Rubin

Written by Andrew Stern

Starring Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Alexander Skarsgård & Max Thieriot

Disconnect is an incredibly anti-internet movie. Don’t go on the internet. Don’t chat. Don’t buy stuff. Don’t make friends. Don’t watch porn. The internet will kill you. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.

Disconnect

Disconnect is too long and too serious. I laughed twice all movie. I have laughed more times at a funeral. (not hyperbole. I have) This movie is like an After School Special or a PSA on the overly-religious network about the DANGERS of the internet. Nice casting. But enough with the tear-jerker directing. And the music is a crime against cinema. Disconnect is like one of those school assembly movies that they make you watch in the auditorium after something tragic happens to a kid you didn’t even know that well.

And this movie sucked. Oh man what a crappy movie.

Skip it. (Tear-jerker, Made for TV, After School Special, piece of crap)

The Iceman (Millennium Films)

The Iceman

Directed by Ariel Vromen

Written by Ariel Vromen and Morgan Land

Starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans & Ray Liotta

The Iceman is intense and ultra-realistic. I liked it for the psychological study of a sociopath. A psychopathic hitman with the sweetest family and no emotion. The Iceman is scary good.

The Iceman

The Iceman has great performances and a cool premise that’s well executed. It’s a brutal movie but it’s meant to be brutal. Michael Shannon is fantastic. And this is some of Winona Ryder’s best work since Heathers (I love that movie) The Iceman is a hidden gem that should not be overlooked.

The Iceman

Based on the true story of mob hitman.

Rent it. (It’s an intense and brutal movie that is not to be taken lightly)

Doctor Who The Movie (1996)

Doctor Who The Movie

Directed by Geoffrey Sax

Written by Matthew Jacobs

Starring Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Eric Roberts & Daphne Ashbrook

Oh, how I wanted Doctor Who The Movie to be good. But it was worse than I feared. Oh, the camp. Oh, the crappy dialogue. Oh, the fact that nothing actually happens in the movie. No really… there is no plot!!!

Doctor Who

We spend the first act on the regeneration. The slowest regeneration in Who History. The second act on Eric Roberts standing in a green room and chewing the virtual scenery while Paul McGann plays it dumb and meets the girl. And then an idiotic third act that would have been better had the entire cast turned to the camera and yelled “Magic!” while doing jazz hands.

Fade to black.

Paul McGann

What a dumb movie. And I expected dumb but it’s also empty. I wasn’t expecting that. Useless. Why would you waste a regeneration on this crap? They must have thought this would be the last Doctor Who. Luckily the 2005 restart came along to erase this from memory.

Skip it (It’s not worth the time unless you’re a Doctor Who completest)

So To Recap…

Star Trek: Into Darkness is not that good and I don’t think I will ever watch it again.

Iron Man 3 is not that bad but I need to get over the twist if I’m ever going to watch it again,

Doctor Who The Movie is not that good and I’d rather watch any episode of Doctor Who than watch it again.

Disconnect is not that good and I’d rather be surfing the internet than watching it again.

Now You See Me is not that bad and a pretty good waste of time. I may even watch it again.

The Great Gatsby is not that good and an awful waste of time. I can’t watch it again & you can’t make me.

The Iceman is very good and I may watch it again.

See you next time movie fans

– Mel

Star Trek: Into Darkness Quick Review

I saw the new Star Trek movie tonight.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

I’m not going to say much about it. Just post a few stills (study them at your own risk) and a few words. No real spoilers. (god if someone had spoiled this movie for me I would have been pissed) So here’s my take on the new Star Trek movie.

Star Trek: Into Darkness in 5 words…

Into Darkness

YES

Benedict Cumberbatch

YES

Kirk, Spock & Uhura

YES

Alice Eve

YES

Um...

YES

Enterprise

Go see it. See it on a REALLY BIG screen. In my opinion, it’s better than the first one. (and I loved the first one)

– Mel

Star Trek Into Darkness Teaser Trailer

I see you multiple Iron Men and raise you…

Soooooo fucking psyched.

new Star Trek Teaser Trailer is such a tease.

J.J. Rocks.

If he brings the same fun and excitement to the new Star Wars then I will have to bring an oxygen tank to the theater with me.