Watchmen season 1 is a mixed-bag, but it is certainly watchable. It is rare that a show can rolodex my emotions, and there were times I just found myself feeling disconcerted and confused. The series is both a sequel and a prequel to the Watchmen movie, but it doesn't do much to tie in core elements of the original. Sure, there is a loose connection to the original, but this is performed mainly by shoehorning some characters in for notoriety, I suppose.
The story had wonderful elements at times, especially episode six, that captured the art of filmmaking at its best. But if you are not a fan of having a thrilling sequence followed by a, "what the heck is this garbage" sequence, then you may find yourself hating this show. This is a very simple story that I feel the creators boiled in a level of complexity that doesn't make it fun for the entirety of the series. I will give the cinematographer and the director a round of applause on always changing the tone of the scene and the characters involved, so that there is an honest feeling to what is being presented.
The acting is absolutely incredible for most of the main characters, but the side characters left a little to be desired. Character motivations were often unclear, but I believe this clouded judgement was necessary for a number of reveals later on in the series. I do want to highlight Tim Blake Nelson's performance the most. His character is very monotone, but you can instantly recognize something is different about him. "The Looking Glass," as he is called, is packing a whopping character arc that will leave you breathless. Similarly, Louis Gossett Jr.'s character experiences a multitude of life events that sends him into the brink of disillusionment.
I feel that race is something that triggers people, no matter the medium in which it is presented. Even though race has a major part of the overall storyline, it is done in a different way that interested me. Yes, there were some heavy-handed sections that threw me off the train track a few times, but for the most part, I feel the writers were passionate about it. However, even though this is an extreme version of fiction, I couldn't get past one glaring item on this agenda. This is not a spoiler, as it is revealed in the first episode, but the idea of police wearing masks is kind of ridiculous. This would never happen, and there are other details surrounding this element that make no sense, whatsoever.
If we as cinephiles cannot overcome some of the annoying or just plain stupid parts of this as a whole, we may not get too many more of these chances of alternate superhero storylines. Give this a shot, and you be the judge as to whether you think it stinks as much as a million squid raining down on your windshield. Personally, I think this is a good attempt at creating a unique and mysterious world. A lot of work is needed if this is going to be a regular show, but hats off to HBO for embracing a new kind of weird.
This was a strangely put together movie. There were a lot of odd edits that often felt as though I was watching a movie from another director each time. Everyone involved in this movie apparently forgot to share their notes. I love ridiculous stuff, but this is just ridiculously bad on so many levels. If you want to watch a movie that is not coherent, poor action (strange for John Woo), terrible acting, and basically ever thing else that can be wrong with a movie, try this one out. Even the original voices seemed to not match up with the actors mouths, which was annoying as crap. At the end of this movie, I could swear that my cat even said, "what?"
Over the past decade or more, Marvel has set the bar pretty high and will have to continue to produce solid films in the future to keep fans happy. Spider-Man Far from Home is a competently made film that gave me the "feels." The casting is absolutely incredible, and the addition of Jake Gyllenhall is a breath of fresh air. Mysterio is portrayed exactly like he is in the comics, so kudos to bringing him aboard. The rest of the gang are just as great as the first movie. MJ stands out in this round and is absolutely adorable, awkward, and eccentric, and makes you fall in love with her performance. Another solid performance from Ned, and his romantic relationship in Far from Home pretty much sums up teenage love.
The action was stellar and had more clarity than the previous film, especially in the last battle. Call me crazy, but I like to actually see what is going on in a fight and Far from Home delivered. Marvel has great moments in every movie, but only one movie up to this point gave me a moment of awe, and that was Dr. Strange. The visuals in that movie were just insane, but there is a moment in this movie that will blow you away. I think that this one particular scene will have you legitimately wondering, "how in the heck can you beat something like this?" For a comic book movie to have me question something like that, makes me cry tears of joy.
Of course, there are some flaws, particularly with exposition from one of the characters. This scene was so heavy handed that it might as well punch you straight in the face. Sometimes you don't have to come right out and tell us literally everything up to that point, you can simply show us a quick flashback or something and we will get it. Another disappointment was the lack of inclusion of Flash in most of the movie. I really enjoyed his jabs at Peter in the first film and was hoping he'd come out swinging. Instead we get introduced to a few throwaway characters, which was unfortunate.
Overall, Spider-Man Far from Home is a wonderful escape from the somber comic book movies that have been more predominant over the past year or two, minus a few. It's getting harder and harder for me to justify giving high scores to comic book movies, unless there is a clever villain and compelling story, which this movie delivers on. Spider-Man Far from Home hits all of the hallmarks for a great film, so you should stop reading this, give me a "helpful" thumbs up and get yourself to a theater to watch!
First, I always review movies by 5 standards: 1. Plot/Story, 2. Characters/Acting skill, 3. Cinematography/Directing, 4. Sound (both music and general), 5. Overall enjoyability. Each of these categories can yield up to 2 points for a total of 10. It can be slightly more complicated, but I always explain those details in the review.
This is how you open a series. The unfortunate part about all of this is the fact that it is based on actual events. For those who are unaware of just how volatile the 80s were when it comes to the storage and handling of toxic chemicals and other hazards, you should probably Google EPCRA (and check out the disaster in Bhopal India that set this into motion). I'm hoping to write a review for the remainder of this series, but so far, this is just masterful at all levels. If you were to only watch this one episode, everything is packaged up so tightly that it could easily be a stand-alone short film.
An easy score to give, simply because the source material is so robust. They really did a great job of opening with Jared Harris (Legasov), which immediately paints the picture that the events at Chernobyl were more than meets the eye. Flashback to the events that took place involving the reactor, we really begin the story from the eyes of the scientists inside of the station. There is an immediate rush and a sense of urgency from all who stand inside, and there is amazing banter back and forth between a few. Following this was a very brief look into the personal lives of one of the firefighters. It wasn't forced, nor was there lot of heavy-handed dialogue. There was no need for this, and the writers did an excellent job of saying a little to say a lot, which is rare nowadays. The tension was almost palpable, as we scroll through all of the dilemmas that the scientists, state workers, and firefighters faced, which brings me to the characters and acting.
Characters/Acting Skill: 2
I've already mentioned Jared Harris, who is almost always brilliant, so HBO kind of cheated on getting him on board. You can tell that all of the people involved in this event could sense that there was something ominous, and they did so with their EYES, not their MOUTHS. Sometimes subtlety goes a long way and you do not need someone to come right out and state their intentions. Even the delirious Paul Ritter (Dyatlov), was nothing short of exceptional. Dyatlov was very fascinating, and I was not too familiar with Paul Ritter prior to the show. What I took away from this first episode's performance was that he was in a state of shock, mixed with a great fear that caused him to damn the workers, responders, and residents of Chernobyl in the process. Just Ritter's acting alone was so unique and interesting, but the rest all did a wonderful job.
There is no question the level of competency in this project. If this first episode is a clue, then the rest of the series should clean house with great visuals and set design. The pace of this first episode was immaculate. There was perfect balance to dialogue and chaos that will grip you from the beginning and will not let go until the end. Speaking of the end, wow! Have you ever seen a disaster movie, such as 2012, or some crap like that? Well, Chernobyl delivers style without making you want to throw up from the unrealistic visuals. As the radiological smoke cloud hovers high in the clouds and begins to slowly creep into town, you begin to see the trees turn brown. The very last visual we see is a bird that falls from the sky and slams into the concrete below, gasping for breath and convulsing from the pain (no doubt caused by the bird's internal organs sludging from the inside). If that does not send chills down your spine, you may need to check and see if you're a replicant.
No surprise here, the sound was a perfect complement to the well-scripted, well-directed, and well-edited episode. I would include the full name of the composer, but it is rather difficult, so please check the full cast and crew to get the right information. I will certainly be checking out other works by this individual and compare with what was done here on Chernobyl. Moments that were highlighted by tension were superb, but other moments were great as well. The addition of the sounds from each scene coupled nicely with this eerie score that made you feel the weight of this massive event taking place on screen.
Overall Enjoyability: 2
As I mentioned earlier, this episode is kind of bittersweet in that it is a retelling of such a horrific display of incompetence of real people. However, it is in my nature to appreciate a good show or movie that handles the source material with such delicacy as Chernobyl has done in this first episode. I loved everything about this episode, and am really fearful that it will eventually drop the ball (GOT flashbacks). Seriously though, this installment left me with my eyes open wide and my mouth gaped open, which is difficult to do. I would strongly recommend this to anyone with a brain. Don't skip over this gem! I'll be sure to continue the series so I can give reviews of the remaining content. Hope this helps!
How do I begin with this review? First, I always review movies by 5 standards: 1. Plot/Story, 2. Characters/Acting skill, 3. Cinematography/Directing, 4. Sound (both music and general), 5. Overall enjoyability. Each of these categories can yield up to 2 points for a total of 10.
Characters/Acting Skill: 0
The characters will get an absolute zero because I cannot award decimals. Miya Cech (ZhenZhen) was easily the best character out of the whole group. There was something about her silence that really made her interesting, even though it was sloppy writing. There are a LOT of character tropes and stereotypes in this movie, with a heavy dose of racism at its finest. Just because a movie has meta moments does not excuse the way they treat all of the represented races, especially in the beginning moments at camp. The movie tries to bring us these great character developing scenes, but they mostly ring hollow and completely unnecessary (I'm talking to you, bedroom scene). There are some un-freaking-believable character turns that come way out of left field. For example, Dariush constantly reminds the viewer that he is all about self-preservation, but he makes a brave (stupid) decision later on in the film that puts his life in immediate danger. At the very end, Alex has all of a sudden conquered his fear of heights by climbing up a radio tower, then...you guessed it, he ziplines down. The villain looks like a combination of Venom, Machamp from Pokemon, the Predator, Wolverine (which is actually referenced), and Lord Zedd from the Power Rangers show in the 90's. But you know, I'm glad they added a companion for the symbiote-like alien. It's not every day that we see an alien with an alien dog running around (cue the sarcasm).
I'm not sure exactly what is going on with the story. I guess there are aliens that want to invade earth for reasons, have spacecraft flying around shooting, and have Venom running around to take on the world by himself. There is a magical key that somehow triggers satellites to shoot the mothership because...zzzzzzz.....sorry, I fell asleep while writing this. Um, yeah, the kids have to traverse mainly by foot to get somewhere and punch in some things on a computer to do some things. We are really lucky to have a character bleeding out morse code, or else the story would have been screwed. Seriously, morse code from drops of blood from a dead person is very impressive. I felt a little déjà vu while the kids ran into a kitchen at some point (cough, Jurassic Park), then into an outhouse (cough, cough, Jurassic Parkish?), rode some bikes (there you are, E.T.), and ran into some masked villains (hey, where'd you come from Purge?). Machamp was all over the place the entire film. At times, he'd be sticking his fingers or reproductive member into a kid's mouth (?), killing adults quickly and stalking around children, and then surprise everyone by Ex Machina'ing by killing Buffalo Bill (some guy in jail).
This will sound kind of counter-argumentative, but here it goes. There were brief moments in the beginning where I thought this was going to be a beautiful movie. I even looked at my wife and stated, "That's one thing Netflix always gets right (cinematography)." Whoops. I feel as though there were a hodge-podge of directors and cinematographers working on this thing at once. My biggest issue was the color filters. Why do you have to use yellow, blue, and purple filters in the first place? This was so jarring that it felt like a different movie altogether. Most of the set designs were God-awful, and that is putting it mildly. There were some competent moments, but not many of them.
Although the score was similar to a Kid's Bop version of Hans Zimmer, it wasn't all that terrible. I think some of the music was enjoyable, even though it was forced so hard down our throats similar to the alien sticking his reproductive member down someone's throat (there it goes again, you're welcome). There were rare times when the voices did not match up with the character's mouths, and that was unfortunate. One time, this was covered up rather obviously through a quick edit. Many of the sounds were generic, which is just acceptable.
Overall enjoyable: 2
You're probably thinking, "You just trashed the majority of this film, so why are you giving it a 2 for enjoyability?" Well, because many of the lines caught me laughing at times. This movie does not know what it wants to be, really. The constant back and forth with the childish and adult dialogue was strange, to say the least. All of those funny times, mixed with the ridiculousness of the plot/tropes actually made me treat the overall movie like a joke. There was one point where I wondered if that was the writer's intention all along, kind of campy and not meant to be taken remotely seriously. Even though I enjoyed it in a terrible kind of way, I really felt depressed because they had a great opportunity to make this a great movie. Just because I gave this section a 2 does not mean that I recommend this garbage in any way. Also...product placement by Adidas does not make this cool.