Reviews (753)

  • As a 1 minute and 19-second trailer, The Tattooist hones directly in on those who enjoy and appreciate a gory horror. Leading you to wonder, like The Story of 90 Coins, what Wong's vision would be like if he produced a feature-length film? From what it appears, flinching and twisting your face because of the visuals is very likely. Also, taking note of his previous work, it pushes the idea that while the hook may be the sights, with each prisoner being tested, perhaps their individual stories will be equally as compelling.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Supermom Handbook: Chelsea, Raven

    Being that Raven is the only one, seemingly, who works in the household, she takes her dog designing job seriously. To the point, she gets a little guilty about not being as involved in the kids' life as she perhaps used to be. Making it so when the principal guilts her about her lack of volunteering, in comparison to Chelsea who is planning a whole dance, it gets to her a little bit.

    So she ends up trying to bake 500 cupcakes. Which, considering Raven has been working late, leads to a few potentially dangerous situations. However, in the end, Chelsea reminds Raven of all she does for her kids. Be it making breakfast, tucking them in, and also that she could have just bought the cupcakes, messed them up a little bit, and voila.

    When The Anxiety Kicks In: Nia, Raven

    Nia is the more introverted twin. Because of that, the idea of too much attention and being made fun of gives her a bit of anxiety. However, with a mom like Raven, she isn't going to stand for her child not enjoying the life she works so hard for. So, she decides to level with Nia. She doesn't push her out of her comfort zone but rather tries to show her how much fun she could have and dances alongside Nia when it is time for the dance. Thus leading to what kind of felt like a rare Mommy and me moment.

    The Best Dance Ever: Tess, Booker, Chelsea

    Remember when Chelsea was living in Nia's room, felt guilty about it, then redesigned it for her? Yeah, it seems interior design, maybe even event planning, is Chelsea's thing. Problem is, her two most active volunteers are Booker and Tess. Two people who interact more in this episode than ever before, and honestly I would ship.

    That aside, they are trying to insert their ideas for a theme out of fears, due to a vision, the party would end up lame. Problem is, both are stubborn as hell. Tess wants an old school hip-hop theme and, thanks to his dad sending stuff from Texas, Booker wants a wild west theme. Leading to them trying to come to a compromise which would be the other person giving in. Problem is, neither vocally says, "We'll do what you want to do." Thus leading to both of their themes happening and causing a real mess. One which Chelsea gets full control over so that the party can still happen and the kids can have fun.

    Highlights

    It was Funny

    At this point, I'm adjusted to what Raven's Home is selling so my expectations have been altered. Not lowered, simply altered. So with that, I'm enjoying myself more, laughing at the antics of Raven and how deadpan Levi is just giggling as if was a tween.

    Nia having Anxiety

    Yet, I do still find myself maintaining some old standards, which are met every now and then. Such as Nia showing anxiety. I liked that she wasn't over the top about it, but had real concerns. Not even because of some social media elements or maybe a mental disorder, but a common fear of looking like an idiot.

    Which, thankfully, finally led to a moment between Raven and Nia that didn't make it seem like Raven's relationship with her would primarily be apologizing to the child. Instead, she gives motherly advice and gets to have some fun with her kid. Plus, being that Nia is a bit more self-sufficient than Booker, I bet Raven loved the fact her kids still need her. Especially outside of needing money for something.

    Mommy's Guilt

    As Shonda Rhimes mentions in Year of Yes, the idea of being a supermom is unrealistic and kind of damaging. You are an entire person and while your kids are an important part of your life, there comes a point you kind of have to accept you can't do absolutely everything for them. Something Raven learns this episode by trying to be a provider and show up.

    But what is the kicker here is that the principal dares to guilt her into doing something. Which, considering this man had to be at least 50, and surely been a principal for a few years, I'm kind of mad he didn't have the common sense to know not all moms have the time to volunteer. Much less, the guilt which comes from not being like a lot of mom's we saw in TV and films. Never mind Chelsea not chastising him about it.

    Though, the point still came across how Raven, thanks to being a single mom, is really overworking herself to try to maintain some sense of normalcy for her kids. On top of still being an active presence in their lives.

    Chelsea Actually Has Talent & Shows Maturity

    Since the first episode, I found myself wondering how in the heck has Chelsea been surviving? Yes, she did marry rich but what about before that? For the Chelsea we have seen thus far can't cook, is such an air head it is amazing she doesn't walk around with a helmet on and seemed far too dependent on her son to keep her life stable.

    Yet, that is all erased this episode, though likely will be back for the next. For there isn't that weird, barely functioning Chelsea this episode. She is fully in control of the planning for the dance and while a little stressed out, we really get to see her in her element. Making me hope, as they revert her back to the old Chelsea, they make sure to slip in she can function as an adult. It is just she is very much a weirdo.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    The Conversations

    Between Kelli, Molly, and Issa talking about the difference between working with Black people and white people, especially dealing with their comfort with you vs. making them comfortable, and the boys' conversation, I was in heaven. For again, these are the conversations you rarely ever hear. Especially on shows which predominately have Black casts. Much less, seeing three Black men as friends, not competing, just chilling and being brothers to one another, while surely nothing new, it touched me in a way. If only because their conversation dealt with something Lawrence was feeling insecure, maybe even vulnerable, about. And seeing a young Black man like Lawrence insecure and vulnerable, and it not being part of a joke, was meaningful to me.

    Then, backtracking to that Molly, Kelli, and Issa conversations, I was living! For while Insecure may be considered a "Black" show, it is on a network which hasn't really catered much to these kind of Black people. So for them to be having that kind of conversation on a network which wants to produce, despite the controversy, a show about if the confederacy won the civil war, tickles the hell out of me.

    Lawrence's Growth & That Apology Scene

    Arguably, Lawrence was the most immature character on the show. He was a grade a F*ck boy and while many, even myself in season 1, tried to make excuses for him, it became hard to continue that in season 2. However, after the Tasha situation, and with him being with Aparna, it seems that dead light bulb got replaced.

    All of which really came to a head during that apology scene. In those moments, you realize he understood that for him to move on, maybe have a healthy relationship with Aparna or any woman, he has to apologize to Issa. Be it for what he did to her or inspired her to do. He has to own that and not just lash out at her. Then, with Issa apologizing, it really makes it seem she wants to move on to. She wants him to understand her frustration, how, with what has been going on, or lack thereof, in her life, she was using him as a crutch.

    Sort of reminding you of the whole Black love thing with how "You're my King and I'm your Queen" is ideal, but doesn't always work. And, even when it does, it requires real effort to maintain. Thus correlating with the show's overall theme of being the type of show which exhibits a different side of Black culture. One not living in some ideal world, one which is overtly ghetto, or where its lead is some professional who has an excessively messy life. I mean, yeah, Issa got issues, but her means of coping isn't really hurting anyone but herself. She isn't murdering anyone or sending them to jail. She is just creating a catalyst for her own and other people's growth. Like how all interactions between two, or multiple people do.

    Making it where when she ends up at Daniel's doorstep, you realize that it might not be a step back for her. Through that conversation with Lawrence, what surely was a hard one, but has maybe led to them being capable of being friends again (As shown by him sending a Facebook friend request), I think she got the same closure Lawrence needed. Thus allowing her to really give Daniel a chance and for them to maybe start fresh. For with her learning to communicate with Lawrence after all that happened, those lessons learned could allow Issa and Daniel to work things out. Though I might be optimistic in thinking so.

    Molly Back in Therapy

    Everyone on this show needs therapy, but sadly only Molly has taken the steps toward finding someone and semi-consistently going. Though let's be real, Issa can't afford it and the stigma, much less being a Black man, maybe what keeps Lawrence from it. But, back to Molly, considering her going back to Dro, it helps us understand more of this ideal she keeps fighting to obtain. Of which seemingly colorism is part of the picture.

    I mean, how else can you explain her seeing two dark skinned Black men, of different sizes, both who treat her right and would be good for her, but her being like "Nah, I'll go for the light skin, tall, and married one." How else can you explain it? Well, hopefully in therapy we'll get to hear Molly dig into her issues. For I can't imagine her opening up to Issa about this. If only she may fear getting checked over it.

    Criticism

    How Long Can This Show Survive on Its Leads Not Being S...

    While I can't say how the Issa situation may go, I'm being optimistic, and whether Lawrence truly turned a corner, Molly, arguably, hasn't learned a damn thing. Yet, for most of the season mind you, it seemed none of them did. So you have to wonder if this show may let these characters mature or may try to rely on them being F*ck boys and whatever the female equivalent is to help compensate for its lack of over the top drama?

    But if the show didn't have ho-tations, F*ck boy antics, and whatever Molly is doing, would we even talk about it? Yet, at the same time, I don't know how long the legs can be for a show which focuses on those things. Granted, you can't quickly compare Insecure to any show on TV right now, maybe some web series, but I don't think that'll make it where this show can go on past a 4th or 5th season. Assuming they stick to 8 episodes per season.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Disclaimer: I was given a link by writer/director/ and actor Keyvan Sheikhalishahi to see this movie.

    Summary

    Marge (Agnès Godey) is haunted by her past. Of which two men seem to be the main things keeping her up at night. One being her ex, who claims she ruined his life, Walter (Götz Otto) and the other being her nephew Christian (Keyvan Sheikhalishahi). Someone who comes to her home because Marge fears for her life. But, in the end, we are led to question whether Christian can do anything at all for his dear aunt.

    Highlights

    It Puts You On The Hunt As Soon As It Begins

    No sooner than you begin the movie do you know something is off. That Marge isn't telling us the full story and she can't be relied on for the truth. And with that cast limited to three people, it makes it so every move and interaction you scrutinize. "Is this person telling the truth?" "Is this person real?" "Am I overthinking things?"

    Making it so the film calls for you to watch it with someone to theorize and talk throughout. Then, once it is over, question whether you were presented with more misdirection or if what you saw was the absolute truth.

    On The Fence

    You Have To Give It Some Leeway To Really Enjoy It

    This is the 2nd film of writer/director/ and actor Keyvan Sheikhalishahi and I think that has to be taken into consideration. Both in terms of the positive, him getting a film like this done and also the negative, which is that the writing and performances aren't without criticism. For example, as interesting as the mystery is, I couldn't say the characters are a driving force behind it. If I was to forego the leniency being given since this is a short, much less an indie movie, I would come down on this hard.

    The reason? All the characters are kind of forgettable and a touch generic. Marge is a shut-in with regrets, who we never see leave the house. Walter is a man who feels jilted and haunts Marge like a ghostly figure and Christian is like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Just without any type of personality which makes you wonder if he is dead.

    Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)

    The main reason I'm labeling Vesper mixed is because it pushes you to give excuses. There is this desire to note Vesper is a short and an indie, alongside writer/director/ and actor Keyvan Sheikhalishahi still gaining experience. However, even with the need to excuse some things in mind, I would still give it to Sheikhalishahi for the tone is well set and the story does lead you to wanna play detective.

    Leaving Vesper ultimately feeling like an "on the job learning" type of film. One which, for those privileged enough to know about Sheikhalishahi, you'll get to see a young talent grow from something with the potential to, one day, become a fully realized auteur. Someone who may be what the movie industry needs to return thrillers, maybe even the horror genre, to its glory days where, between goosebumps and scrutiny, you actually felt engaged by the film and not just waiting for jump scares.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    Black Love

    It's increasingly rare for a Black character's parents to not be interracial or for them to not pursue an interracial relationship. Which isn't to imply I have anything against those who are in or pursue such. More so, it has usually come at the cost of getting to see Black Love and all of its delights. So with seeing Dani's parents being Black and she attracted to the Black guy over Duckie, I mean Freddie, it warmed my heart a little bit. For despite culture not being written into either Dani and Cameron's characters, just seeing the rare depiction of two Black "teens" together was nice.

    Criticism

    Dani's 180-degree Turn

    Can someone explain how Dani goes from someone who is focused and perhaps introverted to someone who would get drunk at school? I get there is supposed to be this weak reasoning about how popularity played a hand, but am I supposed to take that seriously? This does claim to be a comedy.

    Yet, being that Dani just quickly becomes self-absorbed and a bit of an ass, it really makes me wonder if I missed something? Yeah, Dani notes she was jealous of Alexa's life but how does that lead to a character who was trying to use social media to support the animal shelter she works at to being egocentric and ruining all she has ever worked for? I mean, we are led to believe Dani is a smart girl, right? Surely, someone who has tortured her consistently for years suddenly coming to her house talking about being friends has to raise a red flag right? Especially after you started dating their ex.

    It could be perhaps I've seen too many movies similar to this, but come on!

    It's Just a Sorry Excuse For A Comedy

    #RealityHigh reminds me of the sad attempt that was Death Note to represent what it is like to be a teenager. Something just feels off, condescending, and out of touch about how everyone is written. Even if you are supposed to look at it through the lens of this being a comedy. Take Broussard (Peter Gilroy) for instance. He clearly is supposed to be a comedic character but it just never clicked who is he supposed to be funny to? I don't believe my sense of humor is mature so shouldn't jokes about the principal's last name be funny? Shouldn't Broussard's antics make me laugh vs. make me roll my eyes? Could it be I have finally become an adult?!

    Nope, it is just between being cringey and so bad you can't even call it campy, those tasked with making the film funny try too hard or not enough. Making the writing, and their performances, seem like something they should be embarrassed about. Especially John Michael Higgins as Principal Dixon. Though, similar to Eugene Levy, arguably he doesn't seem that choosy when he picks roles. He just so happens to luck into a good one every dozen or so.

    Last Minute Inclusion of a Gay Couple

    Similar to Paranorman, a character we are given the total impression that they are straight, are discovered to be gay. Which I'm only criticizing since it was done for shock value, if not a joke. Which, with it being 2017, it makes me hope that one day, we will do better.

    On The Fence

    The Little People

    Be it Shannon (Michael Provost) and Holly (Anne Winters), Freddie to a certain degree, among the rest of the supporting cast, there are times you really do want to invest in them. However, in the case of Freddie, you are giving a severely watered down version of Duckie from Pretty in Pink. Then, with everyone else, it really seems #RealityHigh only wants to go so far to show how complacent people get about bullies when they aren't the one being teased or harassed. Which is a shame for, at least when it comes to Shannon and Holly, there is a cute romance and story there. However, sadly they are barely given enough screen time for it to have some oomph.

    Overall: Negative (Skip It)

    Cameron and Dani's relationship is cute, but that's about it. Dani's transformation into an Alexa type does not click as something that can or should make sense what so ever. Add on a lot of moments which seem like they should have been funny fall flat, and it leaves you with the impression that Netflix might be back to focusing on quantity over quality.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Traitor Alessand: Alessand, Azazel, Favaro, Kaisar, Nina, Jeanne, Rita

    So, Alessand kills El (Mugaro) in cold blood. Favaro sees him run off and brings El to Rita in hopes that he can be saved. Alas, even despite being a holy child, he dies as overly dramatic music plays in the background. This leads to Azazel and Kaisar fighting, due to Azazel believing it was Kaisar's allies that got the did the job. Then, to make things worse, after Favaro reveals it was likely Alessand, the idea Charioce gave the order is floated around. With that in mind, Jeanne is ready for vengeance. Especially since, way back in episode 11, likely earlier, Charioce threatened to kill El (Mugaro) to Jeanne's face.

    But what makes this situation truly bad is that it was for naught. For when Alessand decides to run to join the Onyx Knights, their leader decides to humor him. He shows the gem he has to have implemented and shows how some people die to become Onyx Knights. Leading the coward to back away and realize he killed El (Mugaro) for nothing.

    Preparations for War: Nina, Jeanne, Azazel

    Jeanne returns, with Sophiel, to the land of the gods and walks up on the still sulking Lady Gabriel with purpose. She reveals her son is dead and she will lead a rebellion. Which brings a twisted smile to Lady Gabriel's face. Leading to Jeanne seemingly becoming a saint again and announcing to mankind her intentions.

    Meanwhile, Azazel goes to see Lucifer to convince him to take up arms as well. Problem is, Lucifer has little desire to be part of two losing battles so he dismisses the idea. However, with the idea that it will be a two on one against mankind, and hearing Jeanne's announcement, he calls all of his generals to prep for war.

    Leaving Nina. As before, she tries to suppress her feelings and uses cleaning as a means to cope. However, with seeing El's body the way Rita left it, that triggers something. It reminds her of how she saw her father, after he died, and it leads to her asking Favaro if he thinks what everyone says is true. Of which he can't confirm or deny, but with what he has done thus far, it makes Nina's mind clear. She will have to stop, by one means or another, Charioce.

    Highlights

    The Death of a Major Character and The Call To Action It Triggers

    For quite some time now it has seemed Shingeki no Bahamut – Virgin Soul has gone under the radar. I rarely see it mentioned and even when I go onto Amazon to watch episodes, it isn't like some shows which have tons of one line to multi-paragraph reviews. A part of me wants to attribute that to it being one of the first major, at the time of its release, programs for Amazon Strike, but as noted before, the main problem may be that it is consistent.

    Something which usually is a good thing. However, consistency with this show has been that it never got worse but there haven't really been any spikes either. Maybe around the time Favaro finally appeared there was a little pop, but there was never really that moment where you had to gush to anyone and everyone about this show.

    Which makes El's death such an important thing. For, if I recall right, even in the first season, we didn't really get a major death. People lost their limbs, yes, Amira did disappear but no one we were asked to grow attached to died. So with El's death, it creates quite a stir. That is, despite him being a new character. Since now this central figure to most of the cast gives everyone a passionate reason to go after Charioce. Something that before, let's be real, there wasn't a strong reason to do so. Yeah, in Eibos is something overpowered that can do massive damage. Yet, at the same time, the consistency of this show caused such complacency that it is like hearing your little cousin got suspended from school, which happens every year. You just hunch and keep it moving.

    So I'm really looking forward to the moment where we have demons and gods facing Charioce and this ancient weapon which seems to be from before Gods and Demons came to Anatae. Which is something I still cannot fathom, but what shows really dive deep into their mysticism and creation theory? Especially if that isn't central to the plot?

    On The Fence

    The Overly Dramatic Music Playing as Rita Tries To Save El (Mugaro)

    Maybe it is just me, but I felt like the dramatic hymn music which played as Rita was trying to save El was overkill.

    Alessand

    I appreciate Alessand's part in this yet also feel like him killing El should have been built up better. Not the actual act but why he did it. For while it has been established he wanted prestige and all that, I feel like we were given too shallow of an answer to understand why he killed a child. A holy child at that.

    Now, if it was explained his family may have status but are low on the totem pole and he wanted to raise their rank, that might make sense. Maybe that, similar to Kaisar's father, his family got stripped of their status because of something that was done, again, then his desperation would make sense. However, with what little we know about him, he ultimately just feels like an ends to a means to make it so the final episodes have some oomph.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Disclaimer: I was given a link by Writer/ Director Jarno Lee Vinsencius to see this movie.

    Summary

    What began with a gruesome murder in 1633 evolves into a game by 1995. One in which we watch two children call out what is known as "Madame in Black." Which, at the time, does nothing but maybe produce something of Alex's (Demis Tzivis) imagination. Fast forward 22 years and they dare play this game again. However, now Alex and older sister Emma (Ida Gyllensten) have something to lose. First, their sense of safety, then potentially their sanity, but is the Madame In Black just a ghost or part of the characters' collective imagination? You gotta watch to find out.

    Highlights

    The Score

    Most horror movies are consistently good at two things: The first being creating jump scares and the second being having rich scores. I'm talking about the kind which can travel from making your hair stand to remind you how creepy classical music can be. All of which sets a tone to put you both in a relaxed state as well as paranoid for you know it is a trick.

    With Madame in Black, this is done throughout the whole movie with music which brings the quiet moments to life. Which helps you get into the head of the actors who are starting to get a sense of paranoia. Especially as they find Alex's claims of perhaps seeing the Madame in Black perhaps not just his imagination.

    Criticism

    Character Development

    One of the issues for a lot of horror movies, especially ones built around a killer who could lead a franchise, is that while the killer is presented as this interesting figure, the would-be victims are made to be disposable. Which is the main issue with "Madame in Black" for while Emma, Alex, and their spouses Sarah (Jennica Landén) and Harry (Kase Chlopecki) seem nice, why care about them dying?

    Are you supposed to just because of your humanity? The idea that you shouldn't want anyone killed violently? Well, to me, that isn't enough. On top of that, it the Madame in Black isn't like Jason, Freddy, Chucky, or the other icons in horror. If you don't call her out, she probably won't kill you. So to feel something for people who call out a tortured spirit? It is rather difficult. Especially when you only learn their name and who they are in a relationship with.

    Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

    When just speaking about the build up to when the Madame in Black appears, I have only positive things to say. The score drives the creepiness of the impending appearance of the Madame in Black and keeps you on edge. But, with us learning so little about the characters, it makes it so you don't really for them. Especially since they aren't innocent for they are the ones who called out this spirit.

    Hence the mixed label for, in the realm of horror films, you can see potential here. For all that really needs to be done is give us characters who we actively don't want to see die and maybe beef up the Madame in Black's backstory. For while a paragraph explaining how she died and saying said story became a children's game is fine, I think with just a little bit more done, there could be a new horror icon.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    Athena (Lexi Underwood)

    It's difficult to not be excited about the idea of a Black female lead kicking ass. Especially a girl like Athena who was specifically chosen to save the future. Now, granted, when we first meet her, Athena seemed robotic as hell as if Underwood was a stunt actress turned actor. However, it is explained to us that her robotic nature was actually her showing discipline and once she eased up that the only way was to kill Will, we see her soften up. She smiles, seems friendly, and I think as she grows used to the idea of having friends and the privileges the people in the past had, we may very well see Underwood make the most of this role. Perhaps to the point of, when she is older, taking on a Buffy role or becoming one of the few Black women who, in the ilk of Scarlett Johansson or Charlize Theron, alongside Angelina Jolie, can become a go to when it comes to action films.

    It's Comical At Times

    Though vulgarity is always what gets the quickest and easiest reaction out of me, I won't pretend some of the silliness presented on kids shows don't make me laugh. Take for example how Glenn is handled or how Gary (Braxton Herda), the school bully, are written and performed. Though I'm sure some may find them corny or eye roll inducing, they tickled the hell out of me. Especially Gary and his 20-second countdown to hitting people. That and just how strange Glenn is yet not so strange he seems like he was made to be laughed at.

    On The Fence

    The Effects Aren't The Best

    This isn't a blockbuster. So to expect the special effects to be top notched is ridiculous. However, for a kids' show, I thought they were quite good. Especially Athena fighting off a multi-armed robot in one of the first scenes and her arm gadget. Though, to be completely honest, when she gets shocked by her arm guard the acting was a little side eye worthy. At least from an audience point of view.

    Hailey

    While it is understood that something between adult Will and Hailey leads to the future Athena is trying to prevent, present day Hailey will give you pause. If only because it really seems someone is trying too hard, between the writer and actress. Because it is clear she is supposed to be this little trouble maker, with her multicolored hair and her trying to make fake hall passes. However, unlike Athena and Will, there is something inauthentic about her – even when you take into consideration the sci-fi elements. For something about her seems like she was written from the perspective of someone who wasn't a troublemaker. Someone who is trying to write based off some ridiculous idea of what a kid troublemaker would look and act like and it sort of takes the show down a notch.

    The Adults

    On one hand, we have Danielle. She is a mother struggling to pay the bills and you can appreciate this realness. After all, not every kid's show should, or needs to, feature a middle, or upper middle class, family. However, while I enjoy Danielle's representation of adults, unfortunately, Principal Rhodes (Thomas F. Wilson) is a sort of Disney channel version of adults. The bumbling kind who seemingly lucked their way into the position they are in. And while it is kind of explained to us how Principal Rhodes got his job, if you know anything about what it takes to become a principal, much less run a school, it makes it hard to take what this show is selling seriously.

    Overall: Positive (Watch This)

    I can't necessarily say, Will vs. The Future gets picked up, I'd watch it religiously. However, I'd at least check out episode 2 and 3 for there is definitely some potential here to be more than another kid series made to create merchandise. In terms of representation, it kicks ass. Story wise, Principal Rhodes sort of puts a damper on things, and Hailey needs to be reworked a little bit, but otherwise, it does draw you in to genuinely care what the future may hold.

    To the point that I could fully imagine this show going on for a few seasons and becoming a launch pad for the young actors. For the foundation set definitely gives each one something to work with. Be it Will coming from a single parent family (by way of his dad dying) that isn't in the best financial position, Athena coming from a future in which she didn't get to have a childhood and us getting to watch her experience things we take/took for granted for the first time and coming to further understand how Hailey became who she is and what part she may play in the bad future.

    Those things, all together, are why I'm hoping this gets picked up. For while I am not that big into sci-fi movies or shows, I do think others could get behind and like this. Especially because it is well cast and only needs a few, easy to do, adjustments to really be a notable kids show.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wedding Invite: Yukari, Nisaka

    To put it simply, Yukari, and whoever he wishes to invite, are invited to come to Nisaka's older brother's wedding. Which will probably be the focus of the next episode.

    Shuu and The Notice System: Shuu, Yukari, Ririna, Yajima

    Despite Shuu making it seem she was going to bring some real intrigue to the show, that was just a ruse. All we learn is that her grandmother came up with the notification system. That and she is a genius, as well as many in the ministry giving her free roam so that maybe she'd take over when she gets older. Now, as for the whole "Takasaki and Yukari are meant to be together?" Well, she backs down from that when confronted by Yajima.

    For while she got smitten with the idea the same way Ririna did, it isn't in the same way. Shuu doesn't understand Yukari's appeal and it seems her investment doesn't go past wanting to see Takasaki happy. Much less witness the moments this facade Takasaki had, which Shuu hated, get let down. Making it appear she probably isn't so invested in the two of them to the point she'd use her knowledge to mess with the system to send that fateful text. Thus leaving Yukari back at square one and Ririna once again put on notice.

    Leaving us still wondering who, in the long run, will Yukari choose? He compliments both girls and seems no closer to a definite decision. Though, it seems Ririna may be inching closer to throwing her hat in the ring. If only because it is brought up that since Ririna and Yukari made up, maybe even since they started being friends, Ririna has changed her disposition at school. Hence why she made multiple new friends and even girls she doesn't know come up to her asking for help in math. Things she hasn't taken notice of, but only recently has she really even acknowledged she may have feelings for Yukari at all.

    So, whether or not she may fight for herself, and her potential relationship with Yukari, or will still root for another young woman, who knows? Either way, it is still up to Yukari to either go along with the notice system or follow his heart. Something Yajima seems increasingly jealous he has the ability to choose.

    On The Fence

    So Are We Going To Be Given Reason To Invest In Either of Yukari's Potential Relationships?

    This episode provided details which I'm trying to understand how they may affect the end result of this anime. On one hand, we meet another member of Nisaka's family and that wedding may put things in perspective for Yukari. Yet, at the same time, he may just imagine both Ririna and Takasaki being married to him and may not come closer to any real decision.

    Then, with this Shuu backstory, I fail to even fathom what that was about. If she owned up to messing with the system, that'd be one thing. Especially if she was willing to argue with Yajima on the failings of the system her grandmother made. However, with her almost complete indifference in terms of the system and what happens between Yukari and Takasaki, I throw my hands in the air.

    Making that last part of the episode, when Yukari and Ririna are holding hands, and she grips his, perhaps the sole positive step forward. Since there has been this question of whether Ririna may ever step up and try to compete for Yukari. Especially since, thus far, she has done nothing but pushed Yukari toward Takasaki's direction. Yet, with how much she is changing, and people are noting it, maybe this might be the push she needs? Could it be, with how much she is learning about Yukari, she might actually be falling for him now? To be honest, I just want someone to make a move.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    The Complicated Romance

    There is a bit of a love triangle between Harry, Alice, and Austen. One in which, even when Austen is being petty, there is some difficulty in taking sides. On one hand, Harry is this young guy with all this charm and sort of helps Alice get her groove back. He sort of disrupts her life and reminds her what romance is. Maybe even passion.

    Yet, on the other hand, Austen is a charmer too. His main fault though is he has a history with Alice. He, like Harry, sometimes put his work before her and it led to her, and the girls, in the case of Austen, perhaps not feeling valued. Something we get to see quickly played out through Harry missing a dinner and it really helping to drive that, at this point in Alice's life, while she wants stability, she also wants that passion she had in her 20s too. Making the decision between the man she knows and this boy who is on his way difficult. Especially since the decision can affect her children.

    The Friendships

    While by no means do we see Alice fall apart, we are reminded by Harry that we are mostly seeing her at her best. At the beginning of Home Again we do see her having a bit of a meltdown, but we are reminded she is a single parent raising two young girls. Two girls who only really have her, and their grandmother part time, and there is this need to set an example. All the while, trying to give them the type of joys her father gave to her.

    Yet, Alice isn't super mom. So with George and Terry, we see them pick up the slack in the child rearing department. Terry in the form of watching over Rosie and, when Austen comes around, sort of being a red flag in terms of Austen's intentions. Then with George, we see him bond with Isabel in such a beautiful way. For, you see, Harry, Terry, and George are in pursuit of making films. Harry is the director, Terry the actor, and George the writer. So with Isabel being a bit introverted, yet with talent, he fosters her in a way. Thus allowing us to see this child bloom because this man, unlike her dad, sticks to his word and actually is there when she needs him.

    All of which you'd think may look or seem forced. However, the guys come into Alice's household like Mary Poppins and truly come off as a god send. Thus creating quite a few touching, and heartfelt, moments. Well, alongside some comedic ones since Austen doesn't like any of them and Terry is the most vocal, and physical, about his distaste for Austen.

    Criticism

    Alice's Professional Life

    The way it sounds, Alice has probably used her privilege, thanks to her father and mother's money and prestige, to spend most of her life finding herself. With that, it isn't clear what she does but try things out until she realizes she isn't good at it. Though, now at 40, it seems like it has clicked that she is good at interior design. Sadly, though, her first client is Zoey (Lake Bell) and that whole subplot is weird and I think the intention was supposed to be comical, but it flops in the pursuit.

    On The Fence

    The Forgone Father

    Alice's father is talked about for a good 5 or more minutes at the beginning of the movie, and his presence sort of lingers. George is a huge fan and when he sees the memorabilia, he freaks out. Lillian convinces Alice to have these three strangers in her guest house by noting how her ex-husband, who cheated on her, would have loved them. Then there comes the question of this other child he fathered and at times, it really makes you wish this man was alive.

    Yet, in some ways he is. Between Austen and Harry, and that extended background we get about Alice's dad, you get the idea that Alice falls for men who kind of remind her of her dad. Be it his charm, charisma, him not being the most dependable of people, it is something she is attracted to. Making it where, even though we don't truly get to meet Alice's dad, you do feel like, through those two men, you vicariously did.

    Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

    Do I necessarily think you need to see Home Again immediately, like this weekend? No. Is this even a notable film for any of the actors' filmographies? Absolutely not. However, what you get here is that rare mix of a film which doesn't try to dramatize a situation yet doesn't necessarily come off boring. For what it tries to do is really explore the importance of relationships and illustrate how each one affects the ones we have thereafter. It is perhaps one of the few films which, in my mind, practices trying to be subtle but doesn't lose your interest in the process.

    Hence the positive label. For while I think of Home Again as one of the films you need to watch multiple times, I do hope some writer sees what was done here and improves based on the example. For the Home Again was touching, without being Lifetime cheesy. Dramatic, but not to the point of being eye roll inducing, and really seemed to want to focus on one weird situation which may be something you'd only see in the movies. Yet, somehow, Home Again finds a way to almost trick you into thinking, if fate would have it, situations like this could happen in your life.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    Grace's Guilt

    We have been reminded usually with one or two scenes a episode that something is off with Grace. Usually in the form of her not sleeping well. Something we finally understand the reason why for. It isn't killing Mac, it is because her not saying something before makes her feel guilty about Faith. Which I'll admit is a bit of a curve ball, but it makes sense.

    After all, who knows how many came before Grace, but she could have said something when he tried to make a move on her. With that, Faith and all the girls she pushed to confess could have one less bruise on their memories. And maybe, just maybe, in Grace's mind, rather than having Mac's blood on her hands, he'd instead simply be in jail.

    Lady Mae and Grace Being Cordial

    Lady Mae and Grace walking side by side is a sight to see. Especially since for most of the series, they sat on opposing sides. But what really makes them being cordial something is now Lady Mae is opening up to Grace. Her showing vulnerability in the form of talking about her fears of what may happen to her when she gets older I could never imagine before. Not just in terms of her having this conversation with Grace, but anyone besides James to be honest. For as social as Lady Mae is, it's clear she has no confidant. So for her to choose Grace for something like that is a real milestone in their relationship.

    Criticism

    Where In The World is Kevin?

    *Taps on watch* hello? It has been a good amount of episodes at this point and we have not even seen him for us, the audience, to know where he is. Now, knowing how this show is, I complain this episode and we see him the next. Which I fully expect to happen.

    Jabari and Charity

    I've always struggled to get into Charity's character and storyline. Probably because, amongst all the drama everyone has, even the kids, she seemed rooted in some form of normalcy. Making her issues with Jabari, between wondering if he is gay or into her, part of the continued struggle to really take note of her.

    On The Fence

    Is Basie Gone?

    There has been this vibe since the show returned that they are looking to return to the core characters. To focus on just the Greenleaf family, especially those who are Greenleaf by blood, and they have been pruning off others who steal that shine. Mac was an imposing figure who, as the "villain" of the show, everything tied to him and anything not about him sort of seemed dull in comparison. A vibe Basie Skanks inherited with his smooth and vibrant method of speaking and performing. Yet, not the chicken has come to roost and it seems he has high tailed it. Thus meaning the most entertaining man on the show has left.

    Something I worry, as I constantly do with this show, how will they fill the gaping hole he has left? For it isn't like when Mac was sort of written off. Mac's storyline pretty much was either death or jail. With Basie though, he never did get his revenge and his charisma was infectious. To the point, it reminds me that I really need to look up the actor who plays him to see what else he has going on.

    This Isiah Storyline

    Zora is sort of turning into the teen Charity to me. In terms of her having a storyline which is kind of hard to get into. Not because of the subject matter, since I think it is important to display what a unhealthy teen relationship is. However, be it the writing or actors, once all is said and done this storyline just sort of rolls off on you. For, like with Charity, it seems more like the type of story to remind you this person exist on the show rather than exhibit how much investment there is in the character.

    To put it a different way. It is like, there are plans for the character in the long term, but in the short term? Well Zora, alongside Charity, are just given something so they don't fade to the back. Which Sophia is kind of doing right now since, I guess, only one teen on the show can be focused on at a time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Summary

    After the death of his little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott), Bill (Jaeden Lieberher) remains the only one who has faith that he is just missing. He isn't dead. Something his friends try to humor but it gets difficult after a while. Especially after they all have their introductions to Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård).

    With meeting IT, Bill's friends find themselves joining him in the hunt for this monster. Making a group which came together either for protection or to battle loneliness, into much more than the losers everyone thinks they are. For between facing their fears and sometimes ridding themselves of them violently, the would be losers prove they are perhaps the bravest people in Derry, Maine.

    Highlights

    This Adaptation Takes Advantage of Being on The Big Screen (And R) Perhaps the first thing that becomes abundantly clear is that this group of kids, they are not some PG "Gosh Darn" saying kind of group. Between talking about having sex with each other's moms, dick sizes, and cursing galore, we are given real deal teenagers. Of which, Richie (Finn Wolfhard) and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer) will be the main ones whose language will tickle you throughout the movie. Richie through him being a bit of a comedian (naturally), and his commentary causing constant giggles. As for Eddie, with his germophobia, among other things, he'll constantly make you roll your eyes, in a good way.

    With A Little More Feeling

    Another thing quite notable with this adaptation is that the child actors they got, they know how to do more than crack jokes or seem like awkward teens. Each one's backstory is given some real oomph so that the source of their fears actually has weight. Take Mike (Chosen Jacobs) for example. His parents in the movie died in a fire and while, at first, them being dead leads to some real eye roll inducing teen angst, when he speaks of it with the Losers you can see the pain that caused. Especially as he expresses what sounds like guilt over it.

    The same can be said when it comes to Henry (Nicholas Hamilton) and Beverly (Sophia Lillis). Their issues with their dads are something which you can strangely connect with, even if you have a good relationship with your own. For Henry, as much as he abuses everyone, even cuts into Ben's (Jeremy Ray Taylor) stomach with a knife, seeing him with his dad, sniveling, kind of made you feel bad for him. Then with Beverly, well… it isn't explicitly said or shown what he may do or has done, to her, but between anger and your skin crawling, the point comes across.

    Criticism

    Sometimes, Everyone Tries Too Hard

    Some kids are better at conveying their emotions than others. Bill usually holds it down, but every now and then he gets a corny line which makes you roll your eyes. Skarsgård does his best to seem scary, but even for those like me who shy away from horror movies, films in the thriller genre as well, some scenes you can tell should have been scary, just don't pop. On The Fence

    Pennywise

    Between Skarsgård's voice damn near sounding, at times, he is auditioning to do the voice for the next live action Scooby Doo movie, to him being more creepy than scary, he just didn't really do it for me. Yet, even though his jump scares were weak, I got startled about 4 times, I will say he did make Pennywise his own. He stripped away Tim Curry's comedic take on it and tried to bring about the more sinister side. Though, unfortunately, Pennywise was also allowed to look more pathetic as well. Especially as the kids started to not become afraid of him. So while he was presented as more creepy, unfortunately, the longer you see him, the more used to his antics you get. Sort of like the kids.

    The Romantic Subplot

    There is a love triangle in the movie between Bill, Beverly, and Ben. In it, Ben is really pulling out all the moves between his poem, being the one to awaken Beverly from whatever spell Pennywise puts her under and more. Yet, he is constantly curved. Something which is a bit heartbreaking to watch but does help setup what may happen in the sequel.

    But what has this topic on the fence is because it ultimately doesn't do much for the movie. It is sweet, authentic, and the setup is needed for the sequel, but ultimately everything that happens seems more for the sequel than this movie. Which sucks since the love triangle is kind of compelling to the point you do wanna see it get fully resolved.

    Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)

    I adore what the young actors did with their characters. They vastly improved them in comparison to what was done in the mini-series and truly left a mark. The kind I expect for Lieberher, Lillis, Wolfhard, Taylor, and Grazer, will certainly lead to bigger and better things. However, Skarsgård, as expected, falls into the trap of most modern villains. That is, the fear you are supposed to have of him being far too forced and while he gets point for his creepiness, after a certain point, be it because we see him too much or his tricks get old fast, you build up a tolerance.

    Hence the Mixed label. Mainly because the young actors overshadow the star attraction despite Pennywise being the selling point. For between him overstaying his welcome, to the kids just having such rich backstories and comedic scenes, you almost forget this is a horror movie with one of the genre's iconic monsters. For you serious, at times, get the vibe this is just a drama which features the kids all dealing with their trauma in their own unique way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    Jacqueline Reveals Herself As a Rape Survivor

    It's very important to me that social issues aren't episodic topics. For, as The Carmichael Show displayed, it isn't enough to just bring something up, you need to explore it. We've seen that in multiple ways with Adena with Islamophobia, how they handle her being queer, and even some of the lighter ignorance Kat had in terms of her praying and things of that nature.

    Now, with Jacqueline revealing she survived a rape, I don't expect this at all to be something brought up again. Even if it is once a season, I'd be surprised. However, it does matter Jacqueline revealed this because there is that question, like Mia had, about normalcy thereafter and what that looks like. Of which Jacqueline says there is no returning to the normal you once had, but there is a new normal. One in which, for her husband, there were some issues of trust, but look at them now. From the outside looking in, things are normal. She has him, two kids, despite her supervisor taking advantage of her, it didn't affect her career and look at her now.

    As for how she was able to move past that moment in her life, unfortunately, that isn't gone into. However, if Jacqueline really revealed to Jane, for an article or not, every last thing, it would have been really out of character. So just in terms of her presenting representation as for what a survivor looks like, how they can act, and how they can still get and reach every goal and dream they had before that one moment, means so much.

    There Being More to Work Than Numbers

    One of the things Kat probably isn't given enough credit for is how she tries her best to make her job about more than money and numbers. She explores social causes, is always for using Scarlet, or her own social media accounts, to push for some kind of justice, and that is how she finds intrinsic motivation. Yet, also she really pushes the idea that you are worth more than how good you are at your job. Also, the idea that work shouldn't be everything to you.

    Like with the Adena situation. With her, she is a personal challenge rather than a professional one. She stimulates Kat's heart in ways no one else does and while work, at times, is challenging and fulfilling, Adena is on a whole other level. She challenges the way she thinks, presents a different culture to understand, alongside how to date someone of the same gender. Those things, and many more, give Kat the type of fulfillment she can't get at work.

    Which I think presents another lesson. One in which, while it is nice to have it be something romantic, the goal should always be to make life more than just your day job. Otherwise, yeah, you maybe very successful, but what do you have to really show for it? An empty passport, an empty home, and a bunch of regrets? Work isn't just about paying bills but creating opportunities. Sometimes for others, but also it should be for yourself. After all, life is too short to just go through the motions and do things without passion.

    The HR Conference

    Though it isn't sexy, I love how much human resources has been a part of this season. Be it when Kat fired someone or this situation between Alex and Sutton. For it brings up real, nonpartisan rules and consequences. It reminds us that as much as this is a TV show and there, of course, is unrealistic drama, there are some sort of roots to the real world.

    Plus, with all the questions that were asked, it not only helps maybe someone understand the process, but helps push Jacqueline's story along. For maybe some may question why, past it likely ruining her career, she didn't say anything? Well, being interrogated like Sutton was, is probably just a taste of what would happen.

    So, in the long run, we get presented with all angles in terms of sexual assault. We get shown a survivor, both at a young age and someone a bit more seasoned. We're shown why someone wouldn't report and the unfortunate nonsense that can happen when you do. Yet, even without seeing someone who reported and got their abuser punished, Jacqueline helps point out how that doesn't necessarily fix things. Even if you survive and don't get blackballed, that moment then can define you and be part of your narrative. It still influences your ability and desire to be intimate and that is something that, perhaps, justice is unable to fix.

    Continuing To Show Hard Work and Initiative Pays Off

    Though perhaps unfair to say, to a point, one could argue that Kat and Jane, while they have had their struggles, Sutton takes the cake. So to see her really flourish with Oliver, even surprise him at times, makes me so happy. Especially since now he is trusting her and seemingly capable of now relying on her so that he can focus on other things. Since, in the long run, shouldn't your assist be your mentee you are training to become your legacy in a way?

    Not Being Afraid To Leave What Is Comfortable

    Jane could have really stuck to Scarlet until she eventually reached Jacqueline's position. Hell, after Jacqueline revealed she was raped to Jane, I figured that would have been the reason she stayed. Her mentor opened up to her, her of all people! Yet that wasn't the case. For which I'm glad. Not just because most shows would have had Jane do an about-face, but because it pushes the idea that you are, at any you have, there to learn and then either move up or move on. Well, at least if you are unhappy – as Jane was.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Beginning of Something New?: Lawrence, Aparna

    From what it seems, the banter of the last episode has evolved into what may very well be a relationship. Well, if Lawrence keeps the communication going. For while Aparna is into him, his trying to be secretive about their relationship, not going to fast and all that, might be raising red flags. However, it seems Aparna is willing to work with Lawrence – for now.

    I Can't Do This Anymore: Molly, Dro

    Things between Molly and Dro are going okay. She gets the occasional feeling of being the other woman, but it's fine. Well, at least until Derek's party where Tiffany has Molly nowhere near Dro and his wife Candice. Thus forcing her to really see how cute they are together and with her and Dro hooking up in the bathroom, and her being instructed to come out a few minutes after him, that might just be the last straw. (Especially since Lil Rel's character, out in Chicago, seems to want to check Molly out.) (Also, Molly finally has that salary negotiation meeting and gets rebuffed until her next annual review.)

    Conversations That Needed To Happen: Lawrence, Issa, Frieda, VP Gaines

    Derek's birthday party isn't only awkward because of the Molly, Dro and Candice situation. It is also the first time, in a long time, Issa and Lawrence are in the same room. Something which is a bit prickly since Lawrence not only brought some girl but also blocked Issa on Facebook. Which, after she storms out, and for some god awful reason Lawrence decides to follow her, leads to a serious argument. One in which Lawrence pretty much questions how long Issa might have been cheating on him, much less with how many people. Issa counters with how long she supported him and asking what ever happened to woot woot. Making Aparna suddenly showing up good timing for Lawrence seemed one more comment from being smacked in the face.

    Luckily for Issa though, things at work are a bit more peaceful. After riding the bus with a Hispanic kid prepping for the PSAT, she realizes Frieda was right so she decides to push VP Gaines into being more inclusive. Since, according to the Hispanic kid, Gaines has thus far said the program is full. Now, as for Gaines' reaction? Honestly, he seems to have too much to worry about to go back and forth with Issa. So, despite her calling him out quite publicly, it seems there might not be any retaliation.

    Question(s) Left Unanswered

    Why do Kelli and Issa's brother got beef? They seem like they would get along so well.

    Highlights

    Better Matches

    Honestly, I hope to see Lawrence and Aparna become the real deal and for Molly to give ole boy from Chicago a real chance. If only because they have something in common you know? Aparna is an app developer like Lawrence and though they may not be the cutest couple around, they have the kind of foundation which I think can make something real. Lawrence, to me, had his ho phase, finally got the closure he needed from Issa, even if it was in an argument, and I think is finally ready to move on.

    Then when it comes to Molly, I think it might have finally clicked that, at best, she'd be a well-stroked mistress but nothing more than that. So even though I think Tiffany wasn't aware of the situation, fully, she probably did Molly a huge and unintentional favor.

    Conversations That Needed To Happen

    While I perhaps shouldn't call it closure, the argument between Lawrence and Issa was overdue – for both. But, on Issa's side, I think she really did need to let out that frustration. After all, she didn't let Lawrence know she was unhappy until she was at her last straw and by that time, mentally, perhaps emotionally, she was already moving on. So I don't know if this verbal catharsis may mean the end of her hotataion like it did for Lawrence, but you never know right?

    Also, it should be noted Molly and her mom talk about her dad's affair. I won't say Molly fully understands why her mom stayed, even after the conversation, but at least they are speaking again.

    Criticism

    Kelli

    I honestly just question why haven't we learned more about Kelli? I mean, according to Deadline, she is supposed to be a season regular. So while the show is only 8 episodes a season, you'd think we'd learn more about Kelli than she is funny and is a bit of a freak.

    On The Fence

    Is The Drama Over?

    Both Molly and Issa seem to break it off with their main boo thing. Molly because she doesn't want to feel like the other woman and Issa since Daniel makes it seem that facial was revenge. Leading to the question of: Is the drama over? If you check out the preview for the season finale, it seems Molly maybe on her way back to normal – even without a much-needed therapy session. As for Issa? Well, someone has to stay broken, insecure, and a bit messed up right?

    After all, if Issa has her life together, what show is there? Yet, even with saying that, watching her flip out at the end of the episode, partly due to her rent increasing to about $1210, makes me hope that her future struggle might be like Molly's. That is, trying to find a new job (if not promoted), maybe a new place to live, and her struggle being getting to that next level. Hell, maybe Issa can pick up the baton and go to therapy to work through her own stuff?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Summary

    In 17th century Netherlands, a poor young girl named Sophia (Alicia Vikander) finds herself becoming the betrothed to a peppercorn governor named Cornelis (Christoph Waltz). Someone who is a widow, and seems like a gentle man. However, his lack of youth and vigor makes him a lovely husband but not someone Sophia necessarily is in love with. Making the entrance of Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) into her life dangerous. For the passion is instant and hard to control. Leading to the house keeper Maria (Holliday Grainger) learning of the affair. Something which comes of use after she gets pregnant by William (Jack O'Connell) and needs to blackmail her mistress to keep her job.

    Highlights

    For Those Who Love The Classic Music Usually Paired With Period Dramas, You'll Love This Film

    One of the main things I love about nearly all period dramas is the score. The music is so relaxing and beautiful to the point, for duller pictures, you could be lulled off to sleep. Luckily, this film isn't that boring.

    Criticism

    But... It Leaves You So Indifferent

    However, I cannot say you'll necessarily care about anything or anyone. DeHaan and Vikander are your classic, "Here are two attractive people put together" vs two people with chemistry. Making it where you don't want to forgive her for not only cheating on her husband but the extent she goes through to get away from him. On top of that, Waltz may tone down his eccentricities, but he is still charming and Cornelis isn't made into an ass.

    Yet, at the same time, you don't necessarily feel bad for him. You get he is a nice guy put in an awful situation, which includes being tricked to think his maid's child is his own, but nothing about him leads to pity. If only because there seems to be an effort to make it so no one can be the villain. At least of the main cast. So as much as, on paper, you think Sophia and Jan should be touted as terrible young people, there is this sorry attempt at trying to excuse that with them being young and in love.

    And while we could talk about the whole tulip mania aspect of the story, believe me when I say it is not worth it. It makes for a decent back story but like the different relationships in the film, it leaves you not giving a single damn.

    Reminding me, William and Maria's relationship, while a bit more believable and cute than Sophia and Jan's, does not act as a silver lining. If only because they have some eye roll inducing drama in their story-line which ruins their momentum. Much less, how things end for them, and everyone in general, really pushes the idea that there was some desire to make a feel good ending here – despite all that happens.

    On The Fence

    It has Its Funny Moments

    There are little quips here and there which may cause a giggle or two. I believe Gerrit (Zach Galifianakis) might be the main one who may grant this movie some sort of reprieve. However, it is through him playing the village drunk. So, if you have built a tolerance for Galifianakis' style of comedy, or aren't the biggest fan of him, this may not add any value to the film for you.

    Overall: Negative (Skip It)

    I really wanted to like Tulip Fever. However, it makes it far too difficult to get into. There isn't a clear villain in this besides a patriarchal system. Outside of that, you can see there is some attempt at just showing a bunch of people doing what it takes to survive, maybe even try to do more than simply that, but none of the people who are focused on really craft a reason for you to give a damn.

    Hence the negative label. For despite the accolades some of these actors have, despite whatever makes Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne keep getting cast in movies, there is no strong selling point here. Not to say I understand why they pushed this movie back as often, and far, as they did, but I do really think unless you love period dramas, Tulip Fever will not be an experience worth the admission price.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    He Wanted Me Dead?: Nina, Favaro, El (Mugaro)

    Nina and the hired demon, actually dragon, face off and naturally, Nina loses to the veteran. However, between Favaro getting upset when he hears Charioce ordered the kill and El showing up leads to Nina being saved. Well, at least in the physical sense. Mentally and emotionally she is devastated and sort of withers into herself. Yet, whenever one of her friends come about, she pretends everything is okay. Something Favaro spots through spying.

    Commentary

    It's a bit sad when you realize that Nina doesn't feel comfortable sharing her pain with anyone she associates with. She had done so much for them, either physically or to help with their plans, but when she probably needs the community she has built most of all, she closes herself off. But I guess she sees herself as the optimist, the smiling face everyone comes to and doesn't want that tainted.

    Though imagine the devastation of your first love, the person whose love helped you grow as a person, not only breaking up with you but then supposedly asking for you to be killed. It really does turn the idea of someone calling you their weakness from something cute to say to almost a threat.

    Preparations Are Complete: Charioce

    It is time. Preparations are finished and Charioce is ready to head off to Eibos and break the rift open. Which, with being told the Red Dragon is no more, means no distraction from this task. A task the head of the Onyx Knights tells Kaisar is inevitable and can't be stopped.

    Commentary

    You know, really thinking about it, I wonder why the noble class goes along with Charioce's plan to face the gods. The poor I can understand since, what have the gods done for them? Demons would come after them before the noble class and what blessings have they bestowed the common man?

    With the noble class though, surely there has to be some, who aren't full of themselves, who see the gods as means for their blessings right? Making the fact we haven't seen or heard any assassination attempt, outside of Azazel's rebellion, interesting. Truly, is the idea of mankind being at the top of the food chain such a temptation that damnation is fine?

    Come to think of it, how does religion work in Anatae? With all of the ladies referred to as Gods, are the people polytheistic? Also, as questioned before, how are demons seen? Are they still fallen angels or something outside of our Judeo-Christian beliefs?

    An Unexpected Goodbye: Alessand, El (Mugaro), Nina, Azazel, Jeanne, Sofiel, Kaisar

    After Nina's fight is over, there is a push for El to return to the heavens. Of course, alongside that is the question of how Lady Sofiel, much less Jeanne, maybe punished by Gabriel, but that seemingly will be worried about later. Right now the worry is for El to be in the safest place possible. Something that he, of course, pushes back on, but then Bacchus going off on him humbles the child.

    With that, he says his goodbyes. Of which his goodbye to Azazel, his first father figure, and dear friend, is touching. Even worth getting teary eyed over. But not too long after that goodbye, Alessand presents his goodbye – in the form of death. For with knowing El is a holy child, and with him wanting the glory of being an Onyx Knight, more so part of any prestigious organization, he stabs El and leaves him for dead. Scurrying away like a rat after the deed is done.

    Commentary

    Does it make me a terrible person to love when main characters get killed? Especially in one season shows, anime in particular, since you know it isn't purely for shock value. If anything, it is for the benefit of the story. Because, at least in my mind, things have been going a bit too well for everyone. Yes, Nina got her heart broken, but once more she, Kaisar, and Favaro dodged what should have been a death sentence.

    Making Alessand's decision a bit of a shock in one way, but in others quite fitting. After all, after Kaisar's treason, Alessand may still have kept his title but lost his own personal prestige. Something he has been drinking the sorrows away from for quite some time. So how else can a man of such insecurities and desires for greatness prove himself? How else can this show up the ante and show how the selfishness of human beings will not lead to salvation but damnation? Isn't that what Lady Gabriel, or Sofiel, warned Charioce about?

    Question(s) Left Unanswered

    You ever wonder if maybe Nina's dad, who I believe was a noted laborer, might have actually been like the guy who was hired to kill her?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Summary

    Falicia (Niatia Kirkland) was just a young girl in the ATL trying to make some extra cash. However, while stripping to make money she got caught up in the game. The attention from men led her into their bed and got her pregnant by one and eventually pimped out by another. A man named Big Dino (Lance Gross). Someone who exploits this girl from a slightly dysfunctional home and pushes her past her limits. Eventually leading to her becoming the man she once loved, came to fear, and found herself trying to do anything for so that he'd love her the way she loves him.

    Highlights

    Another Notch in Niatia Kirkland's Belt

    After her surprising turn in CrazySexyCool, it was hard to know whether that was just a fluke, an easy role to get into because she rapped, or what? However, as Falicia, arguably Kirkland proves that she isn't one note. Though, I must admit, because expectations were low that might have been why I felt so blown out of the park.

    Criticism

    The Story Seems Like It Would Have Gotten Its Due Better With a Documentary

    When it comes to retellings of anyone s life, there are only a few takeaways. Either A) you are left feeling like you learned enough of the subject to leave it alone, B) you are given just enough to entice you to learn more on your own or C) You wonder why they didn't just make a documentary? In the case of When Love Kills, arguably they should have just made a documentary.

    For while I get having semi-famous people playing roles brings more notoriety than perhaps director Tasha Smith just providing narration, it is hard to feel like Falaicia's life just wasn't done justice. Be it how being raised by someone like her momma contributed to her decisions, the psychological games Dino played, or us just understanding what kept her coming back. Which assumingly was because Dino was one of her first loves, but that is something you could more understand from experience, or other productions, than this one.

    On The Fence

    Lance Gross

    After Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, I must admit I was expecting more out of Gross. There was this expectation for him to match Kirkland or at least be the sort of lead she plays off of. However, what we end up getting is him sort of dragging her down a bit. Now, understanding he is playing a real person, meaning he can't craft someone you love to hate, I get he couldn't make Dino into one real charismatic character. However, he doesn't really make him into a hateful bastard either.

    Not to say he doesn't do horrible things to her, but he doesn't bring his game to the level of us thinking, "This was so good they should have released this in theaters!" Rather, he brings an almost soap opera kind of performance to this. Making it feel sort of corny, like he is just mimicking those who did it better, and yet is failing to truly capture the spirit of those past iterations of guys like Dino.

    Tami Roman

    At the heart of Falicia's issues, you'll find her mother. Someone who is good for a one liner or smart mouth, but basically Falicia narrates everything we'd truly need to know about Stacey. That is, the stuff which helps you understand how a woman like Falicia comes to be due to her upbringing by her mom.

    As for Roman specifically? Honestly, she is barely given enough material to make any real judgment. A part of me wants to say, similar to Mo'Nique in Precious, in not Kim Wayans in Pariah, she could very well be a comedian who can do a dramatic role and be believable. However, at the end of the day, Stacey's presence was to help illustrate how young Falicia is and give you a glimpse into the woman who is the reason why her life went down the road it did.

    Overall: Negative (Skip It)

    As good as Kirkland was, I got to admit it is only because the bar was set so low. However, I do feel if you have any sort of standard or aren't someone who just supports Black films because you want to see more of them, you may not want to waste your time on this. For while the movie isn't horrible, it basically is a hood Lifetime movie. One which has dramatic moments and violence, but it doesn't necessarily make you feel anything.

    You don't get this feeling of shock, you don't really get feelings of empathy, you just recognize Falicia Blakely had a messed up life. One which you can contribute to a whole bunch of factors which this movie doesn't dive deep enough into. If only because it seems more about what can be sensationalized and made into memes and twitter hashtags than really allowing these performers to act and take you on a journey.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Introduction

    Dr. Sigourney Gaines (Carrie Schroeder) has been creating androids for quite some time but due to one issue or another, her boss Mr. Kingston (James D. Ballard) finds something wrong with them. Mostly in the fact Dr. Gaines continues to pursue androids with artificial intelligence. Which, upon learning Dr. Gaines' latest creation, Frankie (Alex Hook), was created with such, it leads him to want her either decommissioned, sent to the Orba (what seemingly is the military wing of the company Dr. Gaines works for), if not deactivated.

    However, Dr. Gaines, being one of the many who have become frustrated by Mr. Kingston's leadership, instead decides to steal Frankie and raise her. But, with kidnapping her comes the need to move her small family (one husband and one daughter) to a new location and requires Frankie to keep her being an android a secret. Which, considering Dr. Gaines decides to have Frankie go to school, maybe something rather hard to do. Especially as Frankie makes a friend, develops some enemies, and might even have a crush.

    Highlights

    It Has a Diverse Group of Intelligent Adults and Young People

    Perhaps the one genuinely nice thing I can say about this show is that, in terms of representation, it has a sort of rainbow coalition going. We have a Desi character, a few Black ones, what I assume is someone of Hispanic/ Latinx origin, and women into STEM. All of which aren't strictly your stereotypical nerds who often are the butt of jokes but have varied personalities and styles ranging from the Mean Girl type to slightly out there.

    Something which, I'm sure, some young person may identify with.

    On The Fence

    It Seems Like a Growing Pains Show

    Despite a past love of Nickelodeon, I don't believe, since 2013, I have actually watched anything on the network. With that said, I can't speak on what happened since VicTORIous ended and I Am Frankie is scheduled to begin. However, what I do see is the channel perhaps trying to make a shift. Not towards doing as Disney is or even FreeForm. More so, as arguably they did before, they are trying to figure out what is that sweet spot that can allow them to have the tween market and maintain the teen market as well. The problem is, I can't picture I Am Frankie strongly appealing to either.

    Mostly because it is a growing pains kind of show. One in which, with whatever might be the new direction of the network, they are trying to see how their audience reacts and how to respond accordingly. Like with how, I'd argue, Girl Meets World had an influence on what we see in Andi Mack and Raven's Home. It may not be things you can directly pin point, but with the success of Girl Meets World came open doors for fairly more serious topics to be focused on and also Disney got to see how much of their old formula had to be changed.

    Which, ultimately, I think will be the uphill battle for I Am Frankie. It is a show which may have the sole purpose of setting precedents. The goal with this might just be seeing what will Nick's audience respond to positively, negatively, and with indifference. For there is a lot going on here.

    On one hand, it seems like a comedy that you'd think would have a live audience. However, on the other hand, it is a very low-key sci- fi show dealing with trying to hide an android in plain sight while allowing her to learn what it is like to be human. Something that, if Frankie becomes less robotic, could become something interesting, especially since she seems capable of emotions. But, if the show holds on tight to keeping Frankie literal for the sake of comedy, this show may very well flop.

    Though I must add, there is also the factor of Frankie's strength and with her being an AI, perhaps some kind of commentary. Not to forget, considering how Mr. Kingston's company also dabbles in military weapons, so it seems, there may be some conversations around that.

    Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)

    Arguably, when it comes to teen and tween entertainment, Nickelodeon has a well-established record of producing quality comedies. However, it has been a long time since they have had a noteworthy show on air – at least to me. Yet, there is some potential in I Am Frankie. The problem is, Nick's strong suit is comedy and as much as there are references to the fear of androids/AI turning violent, being used for military purposes, and things of that nature, you can almost hear the absent laughing track in some moments too.

    Hence the mixed label for the pilot certainly won't sell you that you must watch this show. However, you can see it is at a crossroad based on what is presented. A crossroad which will either lead this towards Nick maybe getting some of the notoriety it once had back or remaining the network mostly known for having SpongeBob Squarepants and classic 90 shows and a few sitcoms thereafter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Summary

    Emma (Kate Micucci) is an app designer whose focus is astrology/astronomy. She makes one app named "Nightsky" which her boyfriend at the time, Luke (Josh Brener), says will be a hit! So he steals it. Thus sending her into a slight depression for, with her being an orphan, trust is a major issue. Making her pets Ajax {Human form: Diego} (Justin Chatwin) and Summit {Human form: Sam} (Steve Howey) life savers.

    Especially sometime later, after moving to San Francisco, when she starts her next app. One similar to "Nightsky" but slightly different? It isn't necessarily made clear what the difference is. What is made clear though is that thanks to Emma's Jupiter transit, her two pets get to become human. Leading to them battling for Emma's affection due to the understanding of her only being able to have one live-in male human at a time.

    But, in the long run, they provide as humans what they provided as pets: Comfort. They help Emma with the launch of this new app, deal with Luke who appears at the summit for the app's launch, and even point her in the direction of Carl (Sean Astin). The guy partly responsible for them turning into humans in the first place. Thus giving us a very light romantic comedy.

    Highlights

    Kate Micucci

    Being that Micucci is adorable, it makes her being a protagonist an easy thing to get on board with. Especially when paired with a bit of a sob story for, as noted below, she has this sort of smile which looks like it has a bit of darkness behind it. Which helps with what we learn about Emma, be it her ex stealing her app or being an orphan.

    But perhaps the thing she does best, which I must admit I was sort of surprised to see, is that she is very good at making her co-stars look good. Take Emma's friend Nina (Hana Mae Lee) for example. In a way, she kind of seems like a jerk who claims to be friends with Emma yet seems to spend a good amount of her time insulting her. To the point, it often seems they are only friends because, outside of their boss Monty (Illeana Douglas), they are one of the few women in the company.

    Yet, thanks to Micucci's charm, she helps you get past how Mae Lee plays Nina and you grow to like her. The same goes for Chatwin as Ajax, or rather Diego. For the way Chatwin, like Howey, plays up pet stereotypes, it seemingly is supposed to be comical, but often falls flat. However, Micucci is able to bring about this idea that what likely was supposed to be a joke is just her pet friends being odd, adjusting to human bodies, and being carefree. It is like, she, with her presence and interaction, is able to guide the aforementioned to crafting more interesting characters. Ones which don't seem either two-dimensional or terribly bland.

    Criticism

    Story Wise, It Doesn't Do Anything Noteworthy

    Unleashed is like that person who you see if you buy breakfast. It's friendly, likable, but the interaction you have with them doesn't have much depth. It is pretty much all pleasantries. Making it when Emma reveals she is an orphan, just like if that breakfast person was to tell you the same thing, it is awkward and you have no idea how to respond. If only because it seems to come out of nowhere and oddly becomes a topic that seems to suddenly infiltrate a lot of your small talk.

    Now, dropping that analogy, the issue with this film is that the whole orphan thing comes halfway and seems like they are trying to add a layer to Emma. One which is supposed to make you feel worse about her ex-boyfriend stealing her app. Yet, in the long run, it feels somewhere between a cheap ploy and something which underestimates Micucci's talent. For while Micucci is known for usually playing eccentric, yet adorable, characters, like most comedians, you can see this sadness in her. Something that doesn't require what first feels like a random fact but then is grinded into the story to make up for the fact it wasn't mentioned earlier on.

    Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

    I think this film will be noteworthy for Micucci's filmography, if only because she plays the undisputed female lead and handles it well. She owns the film and makes sure when you share a scene with her, you benefit from the interaction. However, the film as a whole is so forgettable. Not just because it lacks the comedy you can see it was going for but it also seems to not pursue being romantic or even allow Micucci to show the heartache of losing two major things in her life in one false swoop. Add in dropping she is an orphan midway through the movie to try to craft some reaction and there is your reason for a Mixed label.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Disclaimer: I was given a link by Director Michael Wong to see this movie.

    Summary

    What we are presented with is a love story. One which is supposed to feature a 90-day commitment to convince a young woman, Chen Wen (Zhuang Zhiqi), an aspiring fashion designer, to marry Wang YuYang (Han Dongjun). Over this period of time, he tries to woo her, show her that he is dependable and can be consistent. Yet, they are both young. Both with dreams of how to have autonomy and yet also be with one another. Two things which clash and leave you to wonder, how strong is their love?

    Highlights

    It's So Simple Yet so Beautiful

    It is with a heavy heart and tears welling in my eyes that I write this. For I've been put on a bit of an emotional ride. One in which I've seen the beauty and cuteness of new love mixed with the fears of seeing it threatened by outside forces. I even found myself re- watching this, due to the short run-time, and what were once tears just circling my eyes dropped off my eyelashes and went down my cheeks.

    Which I know sounds a bit over dramatic, but Zhuang Zhiqi does something different than most protagonist. There isn't this grab you by the heart and then she squeezes so you can understand her pain type of performance. Instead, we are presented with this rather this weird sensation.

    I think the best way I can put it is that Chen Wen's emotions melt into you. Her joy becomes your joy and you find yourself with a dopey smile and a quickened heartbeat. Then, no sooner than those feelings have become one with you, the worry and fear of separation comes in. Tears begin to stream down your face and you find yourself questioning this: Are these emotions a reaction to what is happening to Chen Wen or has Zhuang Zhiqi connected with you on such a level that she has made Chen Wen's emotions your own?

    Something which, I can't say another actress or script, has led me to feel in quite a long time.

    Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) - Recommended

    I want a full-length film. This, for me, seemed almost like a super cut. Something to pique your palate for more and to entice investors. Thus forcing you to watch this over and over again because there is this hope you missed something. That maybe you accidentally pressed a button and fast forwarded through the film. Because when it is over, it leaves you with this insatiable crave for more.

    To the point you'll likely, as I did, go through Director Michael Wong's Vimeo page hoping there is something else like The Story of 90 Coins on there. Hence the Positive label followed by the recommendation.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Highlights

    It's Is Pleasantly Violent

    Excuse what will surely sound twisted, but the one thing this movie does well is its gore. In many ways, it brings a similar type of blood and mangled looking bodies you'd see in SaW, just without the torture being involved. Do you like seeing people's skulls blow up or them being beaten in with an ax? How about as much blood splatter as you expect from a Quentin Tarintino movie? What about dumb-asses who could have lived if they just stayed in their hiding spots? Yet, because they are so stupid, you low key feel they deserved to be killed off? Well, this movie is for you.

    Criticism

    It Sets Up A Sequel

    Being that when I saw this it was a Friday night and a nearly empty theater, and I don't live in the shticks, I think it is safe to say this won't be any sort of competition for Beauty and the Beast. With that said, unfortunately, it seems the experiment we witness is just part of a larger one and we only saw phase 1. But believe me when I say that when this movie ends, you will have no interest in phase 2.

    On The Fence

    It's All About Personality and Not So Much Development

    Reason being, while each character has a strong personality, ranging from crazy to authoritative, sassy Black girl to sassy gay guy, there isn't much depth to anyone. Hence why, in this whole review, no one's name is mentioned. For really, all you are given is bland archetypes. Ones which, I should note, Tony Goldwyn and John C. McGinley play up to the point they seem wasted on this movie. Yet, as much as they present the bosses who care more about their lives and safety, and to a point their ego, more than their employees, they don't save this film.

    Overall: Negative (Skip It)

    The film isn't horrible but it's just overburdened by its own concept. The idea of some sort of social scientists terrorist forcing people to kill each other for an unfiltered view and understanding of the human psyche was executed in such a ridiculous way. Especially since the movie is supposed to take place over the course of one work day and a lot of people are quickly killed indiscriminately. Add on that no one killed is someone you felt like you got to know and thus want to root for and it only leaves the violence. Of which, to be honest, if you are the type of person who likes gore in the form of heads being blown off or something twisted enough that it deserves side eye? Well, this will barely feel like an appetizer to you. This would be the type of film you show your 12 your old sibling to see if they may share the same taste as you but without getting them traumatized.

    Hence the negative label. The main, if not sole, selling point here is the violence. Violence which may make you flinch once or twice, but for those who love horror films like SaW or even foreign ones like Martyrs, this won't set any new standard for you. Then for those who likes some sort of story or depth in their horror, like Get Out or Let The Right One In, this has nothing for you on that side either. Thus leaving you with a film which seems like the passion project James Gunn got to produce solely because of how well Guardians of the Galaxy did.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Introduction

    At the age of 13, Andi's (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) world gets flipped on its head. Not because her crush Jonah (Asher Ange) gives her a personal Frisbee lesson, or even because she now has a motor scooter. What changes her world is that what she thought was her sister, Rebecca (or Bex) (Lilan Bowden), is actually her mom. Meaning who she thought was her mom is her grandmother, who she thought was her dad is now her granddad and as for her father? Well, who is that?

    This now teen who once had a simple suburban life, filled with arts and crafts and the standard one white friend and one black friend, now has to rediscover what it means to be Andi Mack. Much less, who is this person who once was the cool older sister but became the mother who abandoned her.

    Highlights

    Disney Inching Closer to Nickelodeon's Style

    When it came to wholesome and conservative approved shows, The Disney Channel was the place you could abandon your kids without any worries. However, with Good Luck Charlie featuring queer parents or a couple, Girl Meets World pushing the boundaries of Disney as far as it could go, and their stars increasingly being vocal on social issues and not just being money making machines, something had to change. With Andi Mack, I think we are seeing the product of all that.

    Just for some examples, there is a joke about Andi getting her period. There is a girl named Amber (Emily Skinner) who, when she shows up, decides to say "Amber Alert" and Andi has to reveal to her that is about when kids are kidnapped. On top of that, there are conversations about nudity, in terms of a festival Rebecca went to when people usually get naked and being someone who has off and on watched Disney since the late 90s, this show seems foreign.

    Mostly because, for those who remember Teen Nick, it seems like the type of show which Nickelodeon would have produced as a sort of transition program. One which isn't going to use Jade's joke, from VicTORIous about how when her grades dropped it coincided with her breast development, but it will explore the realities of what it means to be a teenager. How there is this curiosity and desire to know the world outside the scope of what your parents think is appropriate. Then, on top of that, deal with the changing relationships, or desire for a relationship, you and your friends are having.

    Something which seemed very taboo on Disney before, yet almost everything about this show seems like a new path being forged.

    An Asian Lead

    Black and white characters have pretty much become a rule in the majority of shows. No matter the network or show, you must have a token Black or white character. However, when it comes to Asians and Latinos, it seemed to be that the Black character met the diversity quota so maybe a Latino was added in, maybe an Asian Indian person, but Eastern Asian men and women? Hardly ever. So with this show featuring three Asian characters, and our lead being a clearly Asian girl, who is not racial ambiguous, this is a big deal. For the Disney platform pretty much means this child is set. Especially since this is a Disney Channel US original and just the notoriety of this being one of their first Asian stars/leads will carry her well into her late teens. Hopefully leading to a productive adult career.

    Low Points

    While Story and Content Wise It Moves Forward, There Are Some Familiar Disney Tropes

    Is it wrong for me to say the whole, "One Black friend, one White friend" thing is a bit annoying? I get and appreciate diversity, but it does often seem like something networks feel they have to do vs. what they want to do. On top of that, would it have been so bad for her to have an Asian boy as either her friend or crush? Heck, maybe even the black girl replaced by an Asian girl? For if there is one thing I fear about this show, it is that it whitewashes Andi so that, yeah, she is Asian, but really she is just any old type of girl. No culture really, she is just suburban and into arts and crafts. You know?

    Overall

    I'm using the fact I watch anime which features kids and teens as my personal excuse for wanting to follow Andi's story. Though, setting aside the whole weirdness of a 25-year-old enjoying a show for tweens, I must admit I'm curious as to where Disney may take this. For all my life, Disney has been the epitome of basic. Outside of That's So Raven, it kept things clean, non-political, and very family oriented. Everyone had a mom, dad, usually an annoying brother, and it was very post- WWII America. A nuclear family was the foundation of everything.

    However, with Andi Mack, now we have Rebecca who isn't with the father of Andi, the topic of Amber Alerts and periods, and considering how far Girl Meets World went, you got to wonder what is the glass ceiling for this show? Hence the Positive label for this pilot sells itself better than many shows do. Albeit, it still has the reins on it and certainly follows some of Disney's old formula, but I think that familiarity is but part of the foundation for a whole new direction for the network.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Characters & Storyline

    Every pledge we meet, from Zurich {Trevor Jackson} to Ernest (also known as Square) {DeRon Horton} are trying to get something out of pledging. Some are trying to continue a family tradition, do as their dad didn't. Many are looking for the benefits of the brotherhood far beyond the parties and the girls but those connections. Some are pre-med and want that hookup for a residency, others want to become lawyers and other types of professionals. However, to do so, they got to survive hell week and hell night. All of which is but one beat down after another. Of which there is a threat of things ending fatally.

    Highlights

    You Fully Understood The Motive

    By halfway through the movie, after seeing bruises and watching these young men get kicked, punched, damn near drowned, and more, you honestly are left questioning if it is all worth it? Yet, then the movie reminds you of the opportunities they are fighting for. Not the parties and girls, but the networking connections. These young men know a degree on its own won't get them where they want to be. They know even if they are smart, even if they are athletic, there is something about being part of a fraternity which gives them a certain kind of prestige no injury or failure can take away from them. For it not only certifies their perseverance but also leads to a mass acknowledgement of their manhood.

    Women Weren't Just Sex Objects*

    Women in this film, I should note, don't play huge and pivotal roles. Professor Hughes {Alfre Woodard} may come off as a potential maternal figure to Zurich, but in the end, she is just a staff member who doesn't support frat hazing. As for the women Zurich's age, they range from his girlfriend Rochan {Imani Hakim} to classmate Angel {Serayah}, as well as Toya {Nafessa Williams}. Again, none of them really play a major role, but at least they aren't just unnamed set of ass cheeks 1,2,3,4 and etc.

    With that said, I must note that Toya technically could be considered a sex object. However, she has the type of autonomy most girls don't have in films like this. On top of noting she likes sex, hence why she has it with multiple men, she also is intelligent without going to college. All the while being kind of ghetto.

    Criticism

    Not The Most Memorable Characters

    Personality is in short supply with this movie, as well as the type of character development which will help you differentiate some of the pledges as well as the brothers. Now, for the ones who actually get a decent amount of lines or one on one moments with Zurich, like Ernest, you learn who they are. However, if they aren't like Rotimi, who played Edwin, or Trevante Rhodes, who is fresh from Moonlight, they blend in so well that even if you hear the name 17 times and have subtitles to know who is talking, within 10 minutes you are left wondering: Who was that person again?

    On The Fence

    There Was No Flinch Worthy Moments or Tears

    Considering the torture these guys were going through, including getting beat with wire hangers and paddles, I was surprised there were no moments where you'd just flinch. Also, while I note the film had a well-developed motive for why the guys were going through all this, I must admit I was also surprised there wasn't an "I need this so I won't end up like my dad" type of moment. You know, some sort of emotional reason and not it just being about proving your manhood or the networking opportunities.

    Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

    While this maybe a short review, in comparison to others, it is mostly because this film seems to build off of all that GOAT should have done and what I personally wish The Quad was (or is). It features a varied sense of what it means to be Black, has an actual focus on Black figures and the students going to class, and there is a strong enough lead to keep you interested in his story, along with those he interacts with.

    Thus the Positive label for while Burning Sands does nothing new, it does it better than those you may find yourself comparing it to.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Characters & Storyline

    In many ways, Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, at its heart, is a love story. One in which the relationship between Kirito and Asuna has matured maturing to the point that Asuna's mom wants to properly meet Kirito. However, life can't be so easy for the SAO survivors. For while many have came back from Aincrad like soldiers who have come from war, there is still that desire for combat. Making the newest game out there called "Ordinal Scale" quite attractive.

    For one, it doesn't require a deep dive, it is an augmented reality device. Plus, while it may require you to be a bit more physically active, it does allow you to safely re-experience combat. However, like with the nervegear, there are ways to tamper with the device for ill means and goals. Something that becomes an issue for our heroes as a special day approaches and one of them are stricken with a form of amnesia. Thus leading to a loss of the memories which led to the bond of Kirito and Asuna being so strong.

    Highlights

    The Music

    When it comes to anime, I usually skip intros and outros for the songs don't appeal to me. Heck, even for anime like Fuuka, which has music as part of the show, I either fast forward or get a glass of water during performances. Yet, for the first time since playing Final Fantasy X- 2, I found myself enchanted by the music. For while I didn't understand a word of it, the songs that the character Yuna sung really beefed up that character's tragic story. Plus, on top of being catchy, they seemed so appropriate for the moments they were sung.

    The Action

    While others may note Bleach, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and many other anime as their standard for action, for me it is Sword Art Online. For there is something about swordplay that just does it for me. Hand to hand combat gets dull quickly as it just becomes a bunch of blurs and about speed and magic is just beams of different colored light. Swordplay, though, it has the personal touches of hand to hand combat yet that aw and shock which comes from the grandest of spells.

    So with this movie focusing solely on Asuna and Kirito's swordplay, among their friends, of course, I felt reminded of why I have yet to find another show, except maybe Gangsta. and Grimgar and Ash which had the type of action scenes which had me watching the screen like a little kid. You know the look, right? Sitting down, elbows on your knees, child resting in the palm of your hands, just mesmerized.

    The Love Story

    Love stories are a common thing in anime. Arguably, there aren't too many which omit it, at least in my experience. However, with the prevalence of harems, one or both characters being generic and a bore, or else the odd case of going from hated to love, unfortunately, quality romantic plots are scarce.

    Sword Art Online, however, is a rare exception. Both Kirito and Asuna have personality and, on top of that, are equals in the battlefield. Hell, one could argue that while Kirito maybe a better fighter in short burst, Asuna is the type you want on your team for drawn out battles. And, in many ways, what makes them such a lovely couple is they both balance and complement each other.

    But even off the battlefield, there is a maturity to their relationship also rarely seen. Just listening to Asuna call Kirito to hear his voice, watching Kirito snuggle into Asuna's bosom, in a non-sexual way, and express his love for her, these are things I feel we rarely get. Especially in anime which isn't some form of slice of life.

    A Good Recap/ Reminder of Asuna and Kirito's Journey

    Be it the games they played, the people they met, or the memories they shared, for fans of the series you get a good reminder of who is who and how they tied into the overall series. Some, naturally, more than others, but pretty much all the major players of any arc you can think of at least make one appearance. Even Yuuki.

    Criticism

    The Voice Actor Introduction

    I could have done without the voice actors thanking the fans. If only because it seemed they were reading from a teleprompter than speaking from the heart.

    On The Fence

    An Adequate Villain Who Fits Into The Story

    I'll admit, I wasn't blown away by the movie's villain. They were good, I like how they tied into the show's first season, and I very much understood the reasons for what they did. However, there wasn't much in the way of personality when it came to them. Also, I don't want to say the mystery of who the villains were and why they were doing what they were doing was predictable, but I do feel it was kept rather simple.

    Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

    Like Logan, this sends off for Sword Art Online is everything you could wish for. It features damn near every character you ever knew and possibly liked, it reminds you with both its action scenes and the bond between Asuna and Kirito, why you have stuck with it for so many years, and it ends everything with a ribbon on top. It doesn't hint at a sequel or pushes the type of ending in which you want more. It respects the journey you have been on with the series and gives you some sense of closure as a thank you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the film, there are a huge amount of unresolved story lines you'd like to see more of. Be it how Sara is going to help her children heal after being separated from them, how Martha is going to deal with what is happening in her personal life, between her father, husband, and son and then Alexandra's mess. Considering how her grandmother talks about the family secret and her, Alexandra, threatening to tell her dad, the fact you don't get to see the conclusion of that story-line, you almost feel like this was a pilot that didn't get picked up. However, because there was so much shot for the show, and with Viola getting major accolade nominations, Lifetime decided to edit the footage they had into a movie.

    Luckily, for those who may be interested in a story like this, Shondaland is working on a legal drama which sounds oddly similar.
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