pontram

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Reviews

Liu lang di qiu
(2019)

One Gigantic Mess Of A Nice Watchable Movie
In terms of world building, showing the size of buildings and machines, making the audience a part of what's happening: This is first grade, like 2012 on steroids. In terms of character development, continuity, final cut, story development, and believability (suspension of disbelief): This is one of the most ridiculous productions of the last decade. It's not that the Chinese couldn't make a decent screenplay that could be appreciated from North to South and from East to West. They can, I have seen enough interesting chinese movies, the first one was "Raining in the Mountains" from 1979, if I remember correctly. However, this movie is simply bad scripted and directed. It's too rushed, and so there are a lot of scenes where you ask yourself, what is going on. There are scenes where you won't understand what the characters are doing. There are some impossibilities, or at least some parts of the fiction that are crucial but barely mentioned, far from any explanation. But a good science fiction movie does take the time to introduce at least a few of its concepts to the audience . This movie doesn't do that. 3,5 Billion people had to die during the process of stopping Earth's rotation, and not a second is spent how these people had to die. How the decisions were made who survived and who not. For instance, did China say, Brazil can't be saved, because they cannot keep up ? Or was MOSS already involved, marking every second human as not worth to be saved ? Like Thanos in Avengers.... However, the movie is worth watching even with english subtitles. Technically it is up to date - no wonder, the CGI is made by international companies and probably ate up 90% of the budget. Since US Science fiction is currently mostly Marvel and DC Superhero stuff on the verge of Fantasy, or for children, like Transformers, one can find some hard Sci-Fi here, but characters and acting are clearly not on par with the visual quality of the movie.

Ghosts
(2019)

Not my perception of British humor....
...with all that grimacing and with those lukewarm jokes in the first episode. The concept though is great and has the potential for a really great show, but you need capable writers for that. However, after watching episode two and three, the show grew on me. After the main character is injured in episode one, she is able to see and hear the ghosts, communicate with them. The process to learn to live with the ghosts takes most of episode two and is quite difficult to bear sometimes (multiple screams ahead....), but then episode three does open wider perspectives and some more nuances for the audience, and, more relaxed scenes. In short words, it gets better, and that's why I gave 6 Stars instead of 5 or 4. I hope that the show will further evolve with the coming episodes, it's still just a huge waste of potential...but a relatively nice one.

But I'm still not sure how a media landscape that produced Monty Python & sons (daughters) could give birth to this production, but okay, that was 40 or more years ago...

Black Summer
(2019)

Solid Zombie action, but too serious
Black Summer somehow reminded me of the old TWD games. They were very tension-rich and scary. Now, Black Summer (I hesitate to abridge the title) isn't as slow (except the Pilot episode) as the TWD games, from episode two on it takes momentum and speeds up. There are certain really gripping scenarios, as the producers may have learned from TWD which situations are drawing attention from the audience the most. The characters though, stay flat from the first to the last episode. We learn early, this isn't a charcter driven drama, it's solely based on the thrill of being hunted and being mainly helpless and (over a long time) being inappropriatedly armed. So, when the people in TWD have all got their fair share of weapons and ammunition, most of Black Summer's people are fleeing from Zombies. I liked that. We've had enough Americans armed to the teeth in the past seasons of TWD and co. But of course, at some point they get their machinery, and how they accomplish the task of getting it, is not one of the best parts in the series, in terms of continuity, logic and script consistency. After that, the show mutates to a slaughterfiest, of Zombies, of course, but that's why I had to take 1 star from the six I initially wanted to rate it. Shooting around, however professional it is directed and executed, is just boring, as seen in season 8 of TWD and many other movies. Asides from that, Black Summer is a solid and sometimes very gripping piece of a B-Class Zombie show. It is made on limited budget, but all settings are well done, acting is quite ok and decent, and directing / cut is satisfying. If one have some appetite for a kind of a reboot of TWD (mixed with FTWD because of the "people like you and me" approach), with much less talking, but with gripping situations and people struggling with fast and capable Enemies, one can give Black Summer definitive a try. The complete season is only about 4 hours, so it's an evening's binge-watch. But beware, if one seeks for humor or anything like Z Nation, this is simply not there. Black Summer is probably the least funny Zombie series I've seen. It may not be very deep, but it also certainly doesn't want to be that. It has a certain charm, maybe too, because the actors are fresh, and it isn't easy to elude that. At least for me.

Nightflyers
(2018)

Don't Believe the Haters.
After 2 episodes, I like Nightflyers. Except for the intro of ep.1 (which is hopefully only a possible ending, not the real), I would say it's decent. It has atmosphere and a lot of good actors (a few lesser good, too), and some BSG feeling (the ship). It's not flawless, and there are some stereotypes, and superficialities. For instance, security personnel / spaceship staff is very very one dimensional. I always wonder how writers (past and present, novel and script) do imagine the hiring procedure of such people. But it's an adaption of a very old book (which I haven't read), so there have to be some remnants of that time. And how could a story be interesting without the proper amounts of idiots ? If everyone on board would be smart and slick, that would be boring. Or too difficult to elaborate. But besides of that - the plot holds back enough mysteries to make me curious for more. In contrast to some critics here, I think it's not a mess and not confusing, not incoherent and not ridiculous. You can throw such accusations easily at The Expanse (especially season one), at BSG (especially season four), at many other good series, too, but if you do as such, you have to substanciate them. Nobody does that. And Nightflyers simply does not offer everything in the first ten minutes. Maybe that's too much for some people. But I like that. Except for the main actor Eoin Macken, whom I find a bit stiff and uninterested, I like the cast very much. Especially Maya Eshet, Jodie Turner-Smith and David Ajala. They are all more or less strange characters, and relatively fresh faces. Sam Strike is a bit of a wild card, but he did good until now. Overall, those two episodes earned my 7 stars. Let's see, if that holds.

Patient Zero
(2018)

Not bad, not great, but okay
This production has its biggest deficiency in missing directing. It seems that the director here could not contribute much, except a vision of the underground environment. Leading the actors or improving the script wasn't on his agenda, I assume. The plot isnn't really elaborated, the script not very mature, the main actors don't show that much involvement, and production values are not the best. The whole movie is bit of a mess, but surprisingly, it wasn't that bad, Though most things here are cliché, beginning with the charcters, to the relations and most of the dialogs, which sometimes seem to be taken from a Lego construction kit for post-apocalyptic movies, there are some little enhancements, which save the movie from total failing. One enhancement is of course Stanley Tucci's part, who has the easiest work, as the script serves him and him only, where it works against Smith and Dormer for most of their lines - and they both aren't charismatic enough to compensate. But many reviews here criticize the accents, and that is the one point I wouldn't ever do, since it hastn't any real impact on a movie's quality. The premise itself is flawed, as the virus doesn't kill or zombify people, but makes them violent - but not against already infected ones, as it seems (it is said that they roam the surface in packs). So it is a mild Apocalypse, after which we all may live together again but with much roaring and grumbling. Doesn't sound that gruesome for me.

The Walking Dead
(2010)

The Show Became a Zombie Itself (with Anger Issues)
It began as the ultimate Zombie Apocalypse show. It was vibrant, adventurous, thrilling, a good place to feel disconnected from the world. One could have felt like being amidst the survivors and share their struggles. But when Alexandria came in, the show began to run in circles and to eat itself up. It began to stagnate. Sure, it had its moments, and Morgan was a very wise addition to the story and to the cast. But nevertheless, things began to fall apart, like the teams' brain power. They were not the brightest, but they were not dumb. Later, it seemed that they got depression with progressing idiotism. The writers forgot why humanity survived and prospered in the first place. Hint: It's not because we were the strongest in the world, at the time. However, it got ridiculous with the appearance of Negans' character, following the dumbest of all possible preludes - a mass murder, orchestrated and carefully executed by our heroes. Does anyone wants to identify with murderers, however deep and metaphorical that was meant ? - Even as a comic, that could not work. There, not only the writing got sloppy, but also direction and cut. Sometimes my forward button vibrated, and I realized that a 50-minutes-episode had only 10 minutes or so of relevant runtime. The rest was ordinary stalling, to fill the emptiness until the season finale. Now, after season 8, I am done with it, and I would recommend to the producers to end the show soon. There hasn't been anything new or important for about three or four seasons, except more violence and senseless killing, it's time to bury it properly.

Annihilation
(2018)

It Could Have Been a Masterwork
Based on the experience watching it, I would have given "Annihilation" 8 or even 9 stars. But based on the many things where this movie fails, I can't give more than six stars. Where it shines: -Fantastic music and scenery -Great Digital effects -Atmosphere, sense of wonder -Full of Tension, good pacing Where it fails: -Lacks any plausibility -Making no sense at all -Completely missing character development For the positive attributes I feel no need to explain them, for the negative the following has to be said. If you want to make a film that lasts in the audience's memory, you have to minimize the amount of "suspension of disbelief". If a movie is entirely constructed to fit the needs of the production and not the needs of the audience, something went wrong. "Annihilition", while utterly beautiful, haunting and fascinating, during its best moments, suffers of very unbelievable premises. Remember, there is an event that is unpreceded in history, and even today it would not be possible to hide a growing anomaly that huge for a year. Further, the idea to send a platoon of armed women into the anomaly, without the possibility to report their sightings directly, is completely ridiculous. Even, or just because there were other teams before, which did not return. Who wants to waste people ? You could keep sending teams, until the alien lifeform consumes a continent, with no success. There should be countless other, much smarter options to get a picture of the situation, but of course we have to follow the dumbest of them for only dramatical purposes. However, on the inside, there are some completely unnecessary violent encounters, which are only there to create fear and a kind of tense that should not have found its way into this movie. I did not take "Annihilation" for an "Alien" or "Predator" horror-action thriller, but more in a "Solaris" or "Stalker" direction. The idea of an experimenting nature, without any other primary purpose or a mindset like ours, is a great one, and executed properly, but only in fragments and in the end. I wonder if the movie wouldn't have benefitted from another thirty minutes of exploration and transformation. So, while everything could have been great with a bit more overthinking, "Annihiliation" only partially succeeds in being impressing. On top of it, it gives us only a bit of a definition for the main charcter, the others are only shadowly persons. In the end, you may feel tricked, as you think you have seen a good movie, that is in truth not such a one.

Wellington Paranormal
(2018)

Death Valley without the Gore but good humor
In 2011 there was a shortlived mockumentary called "Death Vally", probably made by MTV, and probably cancelled because it was too grown up, too political incorrect, too violent. I liked it very much because of the firtst two qualities. "Wellington" clearly has a similiar concept, but is not violent. On the contrary, the two main characters don't have guns but have to share one taser, though they are Police Officers in New Zealand's capital, which gives the show its name. During the first 4 episodes, there are no shots fired, no guns are waved, and nobody is beaten to death or mauled. I appreciate that. As a mixture of many paranormal shows and comedy there are thematically mostly connections to the "X-files" (as announced in the signation music), and paranormal investigation shows, combined with a bit of Stan and Ollie, or Mr.Bean, if you want. The humor is very dry, everybody takes himself or herself very serious., and jokes are always floating by in dialoguwe, so you can easily pick up one from the stream. The main actors (they have partially the same names as their characters) are very talented and sympathetical, Production values, script, direction and cut are all very professional, despite one may think that there can not very much budget in it. You never miss anything, and sets are meticulously prepared. For the humor, it is mentioned here that it's especially or even only working for New Zealand, but I can assure you, that's not the case. I had enough laughs and smiles to enjoy these episodes, and I am from the opposite side of the planet, and clearly not a native speaker. But I had to use english subtitles because of the fast dialoges, and sometimes i had to rewatch a scene. However, for this very nice and carefully composed new series, I give 8 stas.

Harrow
(2018)

It doesn't want to be Dexter
I only watched this show in the first place, because of Ioan Gruffudd, since I liked him very much in "Forever", and since I missed him after the show's unjust cancellation. "Harrow" is a Procedural, and as one of these it is pretty formulaic, like "Bones" over its many seasons. But it has also some interesting sidelines, like a partially disturbed daughter, who plays the homeless drifter out of rebellion, or because of other reasons that have to be revealed (I am through ep. 07), and a big mystery that involves a body, sunk by Harrow himself, that lands on his own table for forensic examination.

One complaint here is that there is a strong resemblance to "Dexter", which is a complete misunderstanding of the first two episodes. Remember that Dexter is a serial killer, who channelizes his need for killing by viciously executing criminals who somehow escaped the legal system. He is deeply psychotic and a sociopath, though sympathetical and, sometimes, even justified.

Harrow's work isn't anything like that, it's not even as bloody or gory as "Bones" is sometimes. Harrow himself is just an intelligent, capable, very good looking, with a voice of silk speaking chaotic Pathologist, most likely as he was in "Forever", but without the immortality.

Every episode is structured alike, the said body from Harrow's secret gets some attention and progress, problems with his daughter and related to his ex-wife come to light, and a case is solved. And, since the main character seems to be solo since a long time (as he is very good looking, but also a nerd), he also gets kind of a love story.

These ingredients, combined with decent acting, a bit of humor, and good production values make "Harrow" one of the better shows, if one wants to be entertained nicely. The father-doughter-troubles are somewhere interesting for me as a father of two daughters.

I agree on some complaints that not every script is the most ingenious, there are some strange outcomes which may or may not be facepalm-worthy, but since "Bones" did that on a weekly basis (with additional SF elements) and succeeded, why shouldn't "Harrow" do somithing like that, too ?

As a German native speaker, I do also realize that Ioan Gruffudd does have an accent a bit different than most of the other actors. But I do not understand the complaints, which are very similiar to those about other productions in the U.S., where foreigners play. By the way, it is nowhere said up to now, that Harrow is an Australian or spent his whole life in Australia.

I give "Harrow" show a 7, hoping that it will see a second season.

Lucifer
(2015)

Best Advertising for Christianity
Lucifer is a serial to easily fall in love with. First and foremost, Actor Tom Ellis has found the role of his life. And secondly, the concept is what you may call geniusly in its simplicity. Basically, Lucifer Morningstar is a Christian being from the old testament and is also Satan. He is not necessarily evil, but an antagonist of mankind. In the show, he is also one of the archangels, calls God his father, and has taken a vacation from boring old hell. He has several powers, like invulnerability, but he looses them if he is near Detective Chloe Decker, whom he assists in solving her crime cases.

So the great mythology of Christianity is broken down to a simple cop show ? Yes, but it is so much more. It is a concept that can seduce atheists like me to accept the many legends and the 'universe' of Christianity, at least for nearly an hour every week. There is no other show or movie that believes in god as truly as 'Lucifer', and if you read that by accident, take a moment to think about. I think that the church should pay notable parts of the production costs of 'Lucifer', because its simply the best way to advertise Christianity in our times.

Why ? one may ask, doesn't it undermine the biblical word by sympathizing with the Devil ? - I say no, it gives us another view of what the Devil is, here he is a being that suffers from social and human weaknesses, like ruthlessnes, hubris, arrogance, and many more. On top of it, he IS all those weaknesses. In order to become an accepted member of society, he must learn to overcome himself. Its a constant process that is quite utilized in the series. Aside from this part, the show could not be watched without accepting the whole Biblical Storyline from the beginning of times until now. There is never any doubt that Lucifer is an angelic child of God, that there is heaven, hell, well-meaning demons and his mother Lilith. And that he has wings.

A very important thing is lightheartedness. With Lucifer there is always a smile or a small laugh around the corner. It has its dramatic parts, yes, but nothing that weighs too heavy. Sometimes, in the better episodes, its a bit melancholic. Sometimes it is a bit too obviously comedic. And sometimes, Lucifer's behaviour gets on your nerves, I concede that. But luckily, there are enough other characters around him to dampen that, and intersting storylines, of course.

Which is the third backbone of the show. With the thick frame of a Cop serial, and the celestial canvas, there is enough room to paint on. Rarely 'Lucifer' gets boring, as he is in permanent conflict with his absent father, his present siblings and his own existence. Like any of us, which has to be said for once.

Btw, I have read most of the 'Lucifer' comics, and I must say that I am relieved that the TV show is only inspired by them, and did not take that road. I doubt that a fundamental tone as serious (and bloody) as in the comic, would be as enjoyable and watchable as the TV show today is. As a comic for the end of days it made sense, but several shows with such a serious tone already failed. Not to my surprise, I must say, because I am convinced that the approach of the Church today to her people should be very different from that in past, would she want to be considered relevant in the coming decades. Which means, Christianity has to keep up with the times, like Lucifer does in the show.

Shortbus
(2006)

We need more movies like this
Shortbus is very high on the list of my most beloved movies. I can not avoid to call it a masterwork. And why is that so ?

It is a deeeply human movie. It has so many facettes, like comedic, sensual, pornographic, sad, senseful, atmospheric, toughtful, and many other things. It's a vibrant view on the lifes of some outsiders or people who don't fit in functionwise, and are searching for magic in their live, which is provided through the club shortbus as a catalysator. The movie is much too far off the main road to be swallowed in one session. It has to be watched sometimes, so one can find always new aspects and details.

While going very deep into some sad or explicit situations, Shortbus alwas stays lighthearted, not taking itself too serious. Acting is partially phenomenous, it's often more being than acting, so that I had the impression of sitting between those characters and watching them living, losing, hurting and hoping.

In the end, I am always a bit sad the movie is such a loner in the landscape. The concept is so easy, and not even its creator managed to make a follow-up. It's the actual proof that modern cinema can be glorious, intelligent, erotic, sensitive AND enjoyable. I do not want to believe that this proof will be the only one in decades.

We need at least a couple more movies like this, since we are all existing through sex and emotions, and we should enjoy the short time we have. At least, I need. And because I always feel good and lighthearted, in a way healed, after watching Shortbus.

Travelers
(2016)

Season One Highly Recommended
This show was a surprise for me when it was released in fall 2016. Yet another time-travel series ? Yes, but this one is different. Since sending living bodies/matter through time would need a nearly infinite amount of energy, in this case only consciousnesses are sent back as data packets into human hosts who are known to die at a specific time. Their mind is then completely overwritten along with their memories, not unlike when you format and overwrite a harddisk.

The transfer process isn't as spectacular as, say, materializing a Terminator, but it's very painful for the hosts, and we see them suffer, starting from a certain point of a countdown that is shown for that person's estimated time of death. I assume that harddisk don't feel pain when reformatted, but these people do. So be prepared to watch people suffer agonizing pain for a short time.

The Travelers, who don't have names, but numbers, have each specialized expertise to form a small team that can operate in their past, which is our present. Their objective is to prevent the environment becoming nearly uninhabitable in the future, a development that is assumed to be caused in our presence by certain events.

The story follows the members of one team of those travelers, beginning with their transfers, dealing with their new lives, new bodies, with the past of their bodies' former inhabitants, and so on, until they can build their team and eventually perform missions.

All this is very well filmed, acted and shown. Personal stories are not handled superficially, the level of character development ist quite high, since it must handle the personal life of the host bodies before and after the transition, which means two different persons, one of them dead but alive as a social memory, the other one alive but has to integrate, coming from a totally different future, where is no way to return to, but also no purpose.

Season one is a fine piece of entertainment, with some fresh faces and some surprises, a bit like a new incarnation of 'Mission Impossible'. There is also some fatalistic humor present, like in the 'X-Files'. The wonderful cast is very well selected and capable. Writing and Directing are also great. Production values are fine, too, so there are no reasons not to enjoy the show, except one doens't like SF or basically a time-travel based story. Other reviews here state that it gets more 'soapy' later, and being 'predictable'. For the first label, that depends. You can call 'Battlestar Galactica' the greatest SF-soap opera, and you can call 'Game of Thrones' a soap opera too, you aren't wrong. It's the level of soapiness that matters, and 'Travelers' has little. In terms of predictability, I think that this is very absent in this show, and if one manages to finish the first season, one would be surprised by several aspects of the stories' progress.

For Season two I have mixed feelings. From my perspective, the writers kind of went on a vacation, because they did so well in season one. They left their story and their characters back at home, which led to seven or eight rather mediocre episodes, until they maybe returned (mentally) for a big final arc, which seemes forced or constructed. The main mission - saving the future - got out of view earlier, not only for the characters, but also for the story itself. If I think back more accurately, this outcome slightly announced itself during the last third of season one, when the stories began to lose their initial perspective. At least, acting was even better in season two, but from a certain point on, not even the best actors in the world can save a doomed book.

I definitely hope for a third season that connects better with the first one, but at the time I write this, we do not know what Showcase and Netflix will decide.

Drifters
(2013)

Needs Definitely More Episodes
'Drifters' is sometimes unbelievable funny. The three girls in the center actually aren't girls anymore, they are women, but occasionally extremely childish, helpless, deceitful, or, among other 'features', simply dumb.

They always fail on an epic scale with their versions of loving, being happy, finding a job, standing on their own feet, finding the right partner, being smart, being popular and so on, because if they achieve something, they are messing it up, always.

Now, one would think that they aren't likable, but they are. Very. After every failure they manage to overlook its reasons and continue to stand tall, despite any embarrassments.

This is one of my most beloved comedies, and it's always sad to have only six episodes a season. I'd like to have sixteen.

Extinct
(2017)

A decent little Sci-Fi Show
Despite what some reviews are saying, this serial is not a bad one, and since there is no big hype about it, if watching it without high expectations (of gore, violence drama...you name it), one may be satisfied. I have binge-watched eight episodes, and I was.

It is one of those serials which don't want to be masterworks, but are a bit above mediocrity for their budget, consistent in their storytelling, not sloppy, not childish, not overacted, not boring, simply entertainment at a pleasant level.

Plotwise, 'Extinct' starts with stealing from 'Stargate','Falling Skies' and some 'Wayward Pines', but all with much less people around, and less production budget. Also, with much less turmoil, violence and shooting. Though adventurous, it's also somehow relaxed (at least the first 6 episodes).

The first episode seems a bit unpolished, that may be due to the production finding together, but also due to my own perception, reconciling myself to this kind of plot and environment. The premise of unknown beings, reviving humanity after her extinction done by an alien race, was not easy to swallow. And, of course, out of pure water revived humans with some spandex clothes on them, but that seems to be owed to the target audience, which is an American family.

But the show evolves, to my surprise, when the main characters are developed, when connections between them are revealed, when some of their backstories come to light, and when some questions are answered, of course leading to new questions.

Acting is solid, sometimes surprisingly good, despite you may read differently somewhere. All characters are convincing, though the actors aren't big names. But they do good work, supported by solid directing, and a subtle, mostly ambient soundtrack.

Visual effects are not so rare, of course not spectacular, but well done and believable. The flying drones do feel naturally, as if they were really there. The tad of spacecraft CGI seems OK to me. Scenery (mostly the settlement) are totally adequate.

A word about the author and the content. Orson Scott Card may be a controversial figure, because of his theories about sexual orientation, with which I deeply disagree, or because of his faith group. But it would be self-righteous to prejudice this show, because there is nothing in it that reflects the slightest indication about sexual morale or religious mission, except one short scene, where a child suggests a prayer that is then performed by his parents. I wasn't offended by that, as it was the only one related to belief, yet I felt it simply a bit out of context. There are several dialogues later, where the concept of faith in higher powered beings is questioned, faith that relies on the delivery of a service in return by that being(s).

It seems that the two remaining episodes will air together in November.

Electric Dreams
(2017)

It Needs More to Fascinate
The first episode reminded me, like others here, of Brazil, mostly because of the female main character, who has a (not so small) resemblance to 'Jill'. The story is quite interesting, though the topic itself is somewhat outworn. But there simply isn't enough time (or too slow pacing) to convincingly elaborate a multifarious story and setting, it's only a snapshot of a world where oppressed and demeaned "telepaths" (called "Tees", would you believe that ?) are beginning to revolt, when the public anger against them and their abilities is also raising to dangerous levels, and when the government seems to be (deliberately ?) helpless.

At this point, I would say, the makers of this episode have failed gloriously with what they tried to achieve , but they succeeded rather good in producing a solid dystopic SciFi episode without feeling the necessity to care about its possible further developments.

The second episode was, after an interesting introduction, quite a disappointment for me. Geraldine Chaplin is without a question a great actress, but not even she could carry alone the weight of a script that leads (literally) to nowhere - seen from the rationalist's point of view. An enthusiast would object, of course, and would suggest a proper use of imagination, but there aren't enough hints for me to go there.

This episode failed for me not as glorious as the first episode, since the story obviously does want to escape with us from a (our ?) pointless existence 600 years in the future, with someone who vaguely has a clue about the great old days - that should ring some bells - to the mythical land called 'Carolina', and the escape goes not as wonderful as planned, if one doesn't want to die for that experience (yep, that was my spoiler).

Or I misinterpreted that story, however.

In the coming episodes there will also be some big names, but as I already said, even the greatest actor and the best team cannot overcome a rather unformed script, so let's only hope for improvements.

Barely 6 Stars for the high artistic and intellectual claim (= Ph.K. Dick) of the show that it cannot fulfill for me.

This episode failed for me not as glorious as the first episode, since the story obviously does want to escape with us from a (our ?) pointless existence 600 years in the future, with someone who vaguely has a clue about the great old days - that should ring some bells - to the mythical 'Carolina', and the escape goes not as wonderful as planned, if we do not want to die for that experience (yep, that was my spoiler).

Or I misinterpreted that story, however.

In the coming episodes there will also be some big names, but as I already said, even the greatest actor and the best team cannot overcome a rather unformed script, so let's only hope for improvements.

Severe 6 Stars for the high artistic and intellectual claim (= Ph.K. Dick) of the show that it cannot fulfill for me.

Star Trek: Discovery
(2017)

About a Girl
This review is related to the first two episodes. Finally, Discovery has arrived in our universe, much anticipated by the starving community of Trek lovers. And also much hated in advance, for what was seen in the trailers, by many die-hard Trekkers - lens flares, rubbery Klingons, darkness... Was it worth all that rumor ? Yes and no. And no. Because, astonishingly, those two episodes are only a prequel to the remaining episodes of that season, so it was a prequel to a prequel. As we were introduced to that at the end of episode two. Boom, did we just watch a reboot before the real reboot ? OK, that's new. We'll see where it leads to.

A lot of characters we learn to know in the first and second episodes will not be in the third. That was surprising, and I do like being surprised, but not quite in this manner. Carefully establishing characters and then ruthlessly killing them off is something that should remain with TWD and GOT, it may be a 'modern screenplay' thing to never trust the current composition of the ensemble being durable, and it may be funny (for some people), or good for the budget of a show (nobody dares to demand a raise), but (for me) mostly it's sad.

The second 'no' is for the expectations. If they were high, only the main actress and the atmosphere satisfied (but both tremendously). Storytelling did clearly not, as 'Discovery' always tries to be 'modern', but stumbled where it clearly wanted to be interesting. The Klingons were interesting, but, as one of them in 'Enterprise' would have said, 'they talk to much'.

And here's the yes: What the first episode loses in speed with world building and cultural observation (after it's finished one may think where those forty minutes where gone to), the second episode catches up. Action, explosions, destruction. Not quite on a Battlestar Galactica level, but technically OK. A little 'devious' (and approved) bombing, a hostage taking combat mission that refers - at least I think so - to the first Abrahams movie, performed by the seemingly only two combat-capable persons on board the Shenzou - the two leading females. That's where Star Trek begins to peep out.

Acting is very solid, Sonequa M-G from TWD is a great choice, and the Lt. Saru dialogues are often humorous and not one-dimensional. James Frain as Sarek seems to be not completely comfortable with the amount of reluctance he has to perform as a Vulcan.

Summary: In those two episodes there are many great moments, and sometimes we can see every Million running down into environment and CGI. It is a different approach, much like 'Enterprise' was different then. But it's not that great to bend the knee or to fall in love, at least not with the show. The main actress may be a different case. But it's enough for me to be eager for what's coming next.

For now, it has my 8 stars, despite all its flaws.

And no, there aren't so many lens flares ;-)

The Knick
(2014)

Great history lesson, but too much Drug Addiction
This show would have been a true masterwork, if it wouldn't be so obsessed with the main character's drug addiction.

But first, the ensemble of actors is really great. Even small roles are cast with great actors, and even supporting characters get their own little (or bigger) story-line. Clive Oven may have had the role of his life. I did not find any weak moment with him (nor his fellow actors, I must add). The director obviously have realized his talent. I do not know why Soderbergh doesn't make more shows like this, since he has quite a hand for supporting his actors.

Then the production - it's a beauty in pictures and depicts perfectly the time and atmosphere of that period. Wherever a scenario takes place. And that's sometimes in the operating theater - gruesome !

And the details - I often found myself searching the invention of this and that, and it's mostly correct. It inspires one to investigate the most simple things which are so common for us today, but which had to be carved out by suffering great losses, with much observation, sometimes under great pressure. One main statement of the show (as I understood it) is that we can call our selves lucky to live in such modern times and not then.

The story itself - which is about the interwoven fates of people related to the hospital - I found very interesting and diverse, despite I am otherwise not very interested in hospital shows. I gave it a try, and I was hooked.

A strange thing is the experimental/minimal music, that may be sometimes irritating, or unfamiliar, but I found it always quite fitting and driving.

One advantage of the early 20th century (for addicts) was, that Heroin, a medical product (by the German Company Bayer, which is now a huge corporation) that could be purchased freely by everyone. The main character here of course comes from Opium to Heroin, and his addiction is too much observed and accompanied for my taste. It seems a bit, that the authors admire that addiction in some ways I cannot fully follow, because drug addiction is today much more of a problem than then. Therefore, sometimes I got tired of watching a drug addict struggling with his addiction, withdrawal, relapse. That's worth another show.

But that is the only thing I have to criticize. 'The Knick' was really worth the time spent, a great series.

Some operation theater scenes are very bloody and can be disturbing, so be warned.

Star Trek: Discovery: The Vulcan Hello
(2017)
Episode 1, Season 1

About a Girl
This review is related to the first two episodes. Finally, Discovery has arrived in our universe, much anticipated by the starving community of Trek lovers. And also much hated in advance, for what was seen in the trailers, by many die-hard Trekkers - lens flares, rubbery Klingons, darkness... Was it worth all that rumor ?

Yes and no. And no. Because, astonishingly, those two episodes are only a prequel to the remaining episodes of that season, so it was a prequel to a prequel. As we were introduced to that at the end of episode two. Boom, did we just watch a reboot before the real reboot ? OK, that's new. We'll see where it leads to.

A lot of characters we learn to know in the first and second episodes will not be in the third. That was surprising, and I do like being surprised, but not quite in this manner. Carefully establishing characters and then ruthlessly killing them off is something that should remain with TWD and GOT, it may be a 'modern screenplay' thing to never trust the current composition of the ensemble being durable, and it may be funny (for some people), or good for the budget of a show (nobody dares to demand a raise), but (for me) mostly it's sad.

The second 'no' is for the expectations. If they were high, only the main actress and the atmosphere satisfied (but both tremendously). Storytelling did clearly not, as 'Discovery' always tries to be 'modern', but stumbled where it clearly wanted to be interesting. The Klingons were interesting, but, if one of them in 'Enterprise' would have said, 'they talk to much'.

And here's the yes: What the first episode loses in speed with world building and cultural observation (after it's finished one may think where those forty minutes where gone to), the second episode catches up. Action, explosions, destruction. Not quite on a Battlestar Galactica level, but technically OK. A little 'devious' (and approved) bombing, a hostage taking combat mission that refers - at least I think so - to the first Abrahams movie, performed by the seemingly only two combat-capable persons on board the Shenzou - the two leading females. That's where Star Trek begins to peep out.

Acting is very solid, Sonequa M-G from TWD is a great choice, and the Lt. Saru dialogues are often humorous and not one-dimensional. James Frain as Sarek seems to be not completely comfortable with the amount of reluctance he has to perform as a Vulcan.

Summary: In those two episodes there are many great moments, and sometimes we can see every Million running down into environment end CGI. It is a different approach, much like 'Enterprise' was different then. But it's not that great to bend the knee or to fall in love, at least not with the show. The main actress may be a different case. But it's enough for me to be eager for what's coming next.

For now, it has my 8 stars, despite all its flaws.

And no, there aren't so many lens flares ;-)

The Orville: About a Girl
(2017)
Episode 3, Season 1

Glad to be Surprised
Here in the comments I see many reasons why this episode was good, or even great, and only a few why it was bad. I was very good entertained by this episode, and I felt from the very beginning (well, that interracial dating joke had to be, hadn't it ?) the sense of Trek as it should be. The ending may be unexpected, but for a show like this, it was simply brave and completely in line of what had to be said to this topic.

And the topic was a very sensitive one. It has multiple layers under the surface, it's, amongst others, about parents making the right decisions for their children. There are a lot of people who suffered from gender change in their early childhood, simply because doctors didn't realize their gender. But that's only one aspect. Another is the question, if one-dimensional thinking, especially when "life-changing decisions" are pending, can be harmful (though indeed well meant).

Everyone should ask him/herself, if in the situation of the baby, how should it be - would it have been better for him/her to be changed or to be let untouched, risking a childhood of being an outcast ? One could talk about this for hours, finding endless other related topics and arguments, therefore I consider this episode as inspiring and thought-provoking, furthermore unpredictable and unconventional (yes too many people think of too many conventions that this show should fit into).

And I am thankful for not being lectured by the morals of this episode but entertained by its thoughtful approach.

And, btw, I was NOT confused about Klyden and the 75 year-rate of born females. I thought it is to be expected that a society would make up this low rate, while in fact it is much higher.

The Orville
(2017)

I think we need The Orville
After 2 episodes: A solid and lighthearted Trek ripoff that amuses often and bores rarely. Of course not perfect, it manages and succeeds in combining comedic scenes, adventure, and the bow before the classics. All in all, entertainment as it should be. In addition, world building, graphics, acting and cut are at a surprisingly good level. The only criticism I have is that 80% of the pilot's main features were in the trailer(s). That may be good for CGI, but not for jokes.

To the professional critics: This is a good example how far their verdict can be from the audience's - on Rotten Tomatoes currently 20% against 86%. It almost looks as if the critics wanted the show to fail, instead of embracing something fresh and unexpected.

Though I grew up with the love for Trek and SciFi in general, and enjoyed Galaxy Quest very much, I do also like The Orville very much, and I don't blame it for not being both Trek and GQ. To the contrary, I appreciate that. Star Trek was sometimes very serious and when it tried to be funny,it often failed (for me), being ridiculous. Except for the 'Tribbles', of course. Galaxy Quest, while being very funny, was clearly a comedy on the brink to slapstick (ingeniously avoiding to cross that line - or even not). The Orville has it's own approach, and that is definitively a plus.

I am eagerly waiting for the next episodes. For now, I give 8 stars (I do that rarely). Lets see if that holds.

The Strain: Extraction
(2017)
Episode 8, Season 4

Worms infested the Author's Brains
I never took 'The Strain' serious as a show, but admittedly it has its moments, most of them with the characters of Setrakian and Quinlan, some with Palmer, Eichhorst and Fet.

In previous episodes we learned that the drug 'Warfarin', historically a rat poison, is also poisonous and lethal for the Strigoi. In Episode seven Eichhorst made the mistake to drink Setrakians blood, who took a big overdose of Warfarin before (how long does it take for that drug to be completely in the human blood stream, one had NOT to ask), and so he was weakened enough to be finally beheaded by his enemy.

That hurt the Master, because he lost his executioner, and you may NOT ask yourself, why the Master is such an idiot and had not the foresight to make some others to be second in command, but OK, the script didn't let him, so he was really stung (also strategically) by his Padawan's demise.

***Begin Spoiler*** In this episode, we expected Satrakian to be healed, but, surprisingly, he had to die. Not that it matters for the show in its final stage, with only two episodes left.

Since we already witnessed that blood thinner kills Strigoi, it is to expect that the infesting worms are at least affected by the drug that made their previous owner foam....which could give the 'White' that Eph previously made the opportunity to do its work and heal and strengthen Setrakian, or at least help him survive the Warfarin overdose.

But no, nobody in the gathered group has the idea to use an UV light for testing the victim for infestation, nor did anyone suggest to wait for the outcome. Quinlan has to do the final job of mercy, and we don't see if Setrakian was really infested by living worms. Guess why ? After that, the group argues about the deployment of the nuke, which three of them brought to NY with great efforts and in great danger. Since the nuclear winter is already here (the world = USA, as ever), induced by one or more (there would be needed hundreds for that) nukes, it would make sense to destroy the Master with one, but someone (Eph) has reservations. Dying Setrakian had revealed another ominous plan. So many people in the city (which was already nuked once). ***End Spoiler***

In this episode (along with the complete Season 4) the facepalm-moments are so frequent, one thinks the show's authors are in a race to surpass themselves for the Guiness Book of Imbecility.

SGU Stargate Universe: Light
(2009)
Episode 5, Season 1

Swimming in the sea of energy
One of my most favorable SF-Episodes, mostly because of the visuals and the music. Unfortunately, here is the beginning of those annoying V-logs, always crying for the fwd button. Which cost the episode the 10/10.

When the ship plunges into the corona of the star, it seems to take a deep sip of pure energy, "to replenish its reserves". The line "This is what Destiny intended from the moment it entered the system" is from this episode.

Of course everyone knows that the crew cannot burn in the sun's atmosphere after only five episodes, of course you see that we aren't flying towards the center, but the moment itself is celebrated with breathtaking CGI fireworks in cinema quality.

After the second climax with the rescue of the 17 "settlers", the episode ends with a discord, instead of a great relief. That may be disappointing, but follows the rather dark and disillusioned tone of the show.

Blood Drive
(2017)

The old Concept Vampir Ltd. in new Plateau Boots
First, 'Blood Drive' is not as bad as some posters a ranting here (but also not as good as it is praised by some).

I am through episodes 1-9 now and felt mostly competent entertained. It's mildly funny, extremely gory, morally questionable, and sexually aggressive, when not offensive. But also is it well directed, well told, and well cast (equal to well played). I cannot see any major flaw in the main corner points of this production, for what it wants to be, and what it is then.

The only thing I am a bit concerned about is the character of Grace, who is introduced as a blood harvesting, ruthless, conscienceless driver, only to be presented later as a very concerned sister who sacrifices literally everything to find and rescue her sibling. Even living in a world where a life is worth less than a full gasoline tank, I would have severe problems with someone who shreds people for the next few miles on the road - all her otherwise good intentions could not balance this out.

Aside from this, the conflict between 'Ceremony Master' Slink and Heart Industries seems a bit constructed, and it is not really clear up to now, what the mighty company wants with black cop Christopher, except unlimited access to his bodily fluids.

But 'Blood Drive' is of course not (always) to be taken serious, but yet one can think of it as a blood soaked metaphor about the current state of the U.S.A., especially with the 'scar'. a giant fissure, that introduced the (North American) Apocalypse, probably because of environmental destruction like fracking. A scar like this is also dividing the U.S.A. ethnically, politically, and otherwise, probably since the Civil War.

So, there is a bit more under the hood of that show than a simple beer can opener. It clearly nods to a number of Post-Apocalyptic movies and to a certain style called 'Grind House', where hardliners in movie history of course disagree, because the authenticity criteria aren't fulfilled....whatever they are. And there it is again, the scar - even with such a fruitless question.

However, for me is the show not quite in a league with other Syfy productions, like 'Z Nation' (but better than 'Aftermath' or 'Wynonna Earp'), since it is less humorous and less well scripted (for now). I give it 6/10.

The old concept i mentioned in the title is the novel 'Vampir Ltd.' by Czech Author Josef Nesvabda. A (now called cult-) movie was made in 1981 or 82, based on the novel, called 'Upír z Feratu' or 'The Vampire from Ferat'. The story is basically about racing cars, manufactured by a company named 'Ferat'. They win every competition, but it turns out that they are running on blood. In this case it's the driver's blood, who can be exhausted until death. I remember seeing the movie in the 90's on TV, enjoying it's dark humor and of course the absurdity and the astounding quality. The main character is played by a Dagmar Veskrnová, the later wife of the now deceased former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
(2016)

Great until the Finale
Great Actors, great Visuals, a nice Story, and a renowned director - what could possibly go wrong with a movie ?

Well, almost nothing for that matter, but some things nonetheless went wrong with 'Miss Peregrine'. First, Eva Green. While it's always a pleasure to watch her, she is clearly underemployed for her possibilities, which we had the honor to witness in the series 'Penny Dreadful'. Next, the time loop concept, which is a paradox in itself - the first question that occurs is why people do not age inside a loop, despite they live a linear non-looped life. Which is practically eternal life, something that the bad guys want for themselves and do not see that they would only have to ask for nicely ? - Well its doubtful that someone like Ms. Peregrine would maintain a personal loop for those monsters... - And next, the villain is somehow colorless, even if it's Samuel L. Jackson, and even if he and his fellow Monsters do eat their victim's eyes before/while/after killing them, which (the eating) is quite graphically shown, including a big heap of extracted eyes. Which leads me to another question, who is the target audience, adults or minors ? - I also had to scratch my head about the sometimes used term 'soft parts', which in my translation only means genitals, not the eyes.

But those are the smaller malfunctions. The real failure of the movie begins when it gathers speed, after (Spoiler ahead) an absolutely breathtaking scene with a sunken shipwreck that is brought to life by the children's abilities (ignoring any physics and the reason why this ship sunk, of course - where is the big hole in its bottom). Before that, the movie is quite entertaining and fulfills its purpose of introducing us to its world and its characters, never boring, though a bit slow paced. But, to add another facet, at this point every possible mystery the movie had until then, is revealed and gone, which is also disastrous for a environment that breathes mysteries. There is nothing more lurking around the corner than a bunch of monstrous not-so-much-frightening thugs.

So when the movie is clearly announcing that "now it's showtime, please fasten your seat belts", which is after 1 hours 30 minutes (!), it actually slows down and processes the way to the end in a series of rather less impressive, less imaginative events. I had the impression that the director and writer lost their interest in their child after those one and a half hours, after they brought it to life so well. And despite the movie's anti-climatic direction, it also feels more and more hasty executed towards the end. There is also a moment which shows that the abilities of two of the children alone, if used much earlier, would have saved the day with ease.

However, on the bright side is, that finally the main characters - a young boy and a girl - are sympathetic and reasonable, although some of their decisions are not quite comprehensible. While watching I thanked Burton for every minute I did not despise Jacob or Emma.

And of course visuals and scenery are simply a pleasure.

That I still rated it 7/10, considering all the criticism above, may show how near this was to a masterstroke.

Hardcore Henry
(2015)

Adrenaline Sucker
It is admittedly bold to make a film completely like a first-person-shooter. I remember the movie 'Gamer', which had large parts shot in this mode, and a remarkable scene in 'Kick-Ass' (2010) is alike.

The complete absence of any depth of character or any depth of a story is a pity, but understandable in this experiment. The movie rarely takes a breath (if it even does), at least to explain something. Explanations are mostly done during chases, between reloading, or while fighting.

So, if one is willing to follow 90 minutes of shooting, chasing, kicking, climbing and blood splattering in Russia, mostly Moscow, always at high speed / in nitro mode, this movie delivers. It also delivers some funny moments, and a comedic one-man-show by Sharlto Copley, who was the main reason for me to watch it.

The shaky and sometimes pixelated camera is a point where some people may quit, aside from the ultra violence. I for myself got used to a shaky camera since 'Star Trek V', and the violence here looks merely synthetic than real.

Which is the biggest criticism I have - the movie itself, yet filmed in the real world with real actors, feels synthetic. Well, that can be also my biggest compliment, take it as you want. The characters - if one dares to call the appearing persons so - are either too short-lived or too exaggerated to bond with one of them. But I understand that that may be intended.

Technically, the movie is OK, it was shot on a GoPro Action Cam on Purpose, with all it's advantages and disadvantages. The shakiness may be one thing that game players do not experience, because they prepare themselves for every camera move, while they are navigating.

A little guidance from producer Timor Bekmambetov maybe would have helped, to bring this movie out of it's niche, into our hearts, instead of being a pure Adrenaline sucker. I am a bit disappointed, because especially with a team that is mostly Russian, that should have been possible. At least, the humor is very Russian in large parts.

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