Invincible (Season 1): The Superhero Show We Deserve – Amazon Prime Review

A show demonstrates the glory and horror of living in a super world.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) is the son of realtor Debbie Grayson (Sandra Oh) and writer Nolan Grayson (J.K. Simmons). Oh, and Nolan is actually Omni-Man, the world’s greatest superhero. Before his 18th birthday, Mark finally gets his superpowers and adopts the superhero moniker of Invincible. Now armed with flight, superstrength, superspeed, and the ability to make bad jokes mid-fight, Mark tries to live up to his father’s example. He works with the Teen Team, a group comprised of the Robot (Zachary Quinto), Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas), and Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow). Shortly after this, the Guardians of the Globe, the most powerful superteam on the planet, are killed, leading the world to need the Teen Team and Invincible to start picking up the slack, as new threats seem to be constantly on the rise. These threats include superpowered mob bosses, invading aliens, reanimated corpses, and the occasional kaiju, leading Invincible to learn how tough this work can be the hard way. Unfortunately, it turns out that the one who killed the Guardians was none other than Omni-Man. Omni-Man’s true mission was to weaken Earth so that his people could take over the planet, leading to a drag-out fight between Mark and his father and ending only when Nolan realizes that he cannot kill his son and flees.

Imagine that your dad is your hero and that he is also trying to kill everyone.

END SUMMARY 

I had already reviewed this show a few episodes in, but I was asked to write another one based on the finale. I will be blunt: This was the most incredibly horrifying episode of a superhero show I’ve seen yet. It almost completely outdid its comic book counterpart and that’s damned impressive. While the comic was brutal to Mark and suggested massive damage to the population, this truly brought the scale of what’s happening to the forefront. Aside from some deliberate horror comics and an issue of Miracle Man in which a psychopath with Superman’s powers is allowed a few hours of free rein on England and kills millions of people in increasingly horrifying ways, this show is about the most accurate and intense portrayal of what it would be like to live near a superhero fight. People are basically china dolls to Invincible and Omni-Man. 

Admittedly, Omni-Man didn’t choke the Thames with bodies.

I have to give it up to both the writers and animators of this episode, because even as action packed as it is, they make sure you feel all of the damage that’s being inflicted. Even when Mark is trying to save someone, Omni-Man makes it clear that he can eradicate buildings with a finger, rendering any of Mark’s efforts moot. At one point he starts shoving Mark THROUGH PEOPLE via a subway train. It’s done so viscerally that the image is still in my mind. This is what it would be like to live in a universe with superpowers: If you don’t have them, you’re basically a bug trying to avoid being squashed.

Mark tries to save a person, and only saves an arm.

On the other hand, we also see superheroes and villains producing technological and physical wonders that would be impossible in the real world. Also, if you are one of those superpeople, or figure out sufficient technological advances, then you get to experience things no other being could relate to. The universe is so much easier to explore than in the real one and so much more reward is right at the tips of our fingers. It’s a world of wonders and opportunities. Just one where the risk of dying is very, very high for things as simple as “walking.”

Even being “The Immortal” doesn’t really help that much.

I really appreciate this show subverting the superhero narrative as hard as it did. While Mark is still a good guy and the kind of person who will try to do the right thing, the show makes it clear that this comes with a massive amount of sacrifice. While Spider-Man became beloved for being a person who gets superpowers and it just makes his life worse, Invincible manages to convey this through how much Mark loses out on for so little a reward. His relationship with his girlfriend suffers, his schoolwork suffers, his relationship with his friends suffers, and even, eventually, his relationship with his family suffers. All in the name of trying to be a superhero. Full points to Steven Yeun for how great he is at conveying Mark’s emotions through voice acting, particularly when he’s trying to reconcile what his father has done before the final battle. 

Also, J.K. Simmons, you are amazing.

Overall, just a fantastic show. Cannot wait for more episodes.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Poltergay: This is Real and French – Amazon Prime Review

A haunted nightclub starts to affect a couple’s relationship.

SUMMARY

Marc and Emma (Clovis Cornillac and Julie Depardieu. Yes, Gerard Depardieu’s daughter) are young, recently married, and new homeowners. However, it turns out that their house used to be the site of a literally underground spot in 1979 called L’Ambigu. As the name apparently suggests in French (I don’t get it, but apparently it’s a joke), the nightclub was a gay disco. One night, during a foam party, the foam machine malfunctioned and exploded, killing a number of people, including five of the most enthusiastic dancers, whose remains were, somehow, not found: Michel, Salopette/Shaggy, Gilles, Ivan, and Bertrand (Philippe Duquesne, Lionel Abelanski, Jean-Michel Lahmi, Georges Gay, Gilles Gaston-Dreyfus). In the present, it turns out that Marc can see these fantastic phantoms, but Emma cannot, nor can Marc’s friend David (Alain Fromager). This leads Emma to think Marc is going nuts from being secretly gay, something that results in her leaving him when he accidentally hits her father with a shovel.

He shovels well.

However, Marc finds out that he’s neither crazy nor closeted when he discovers that any “pure” straight man (a man who has had no homosexual contact) can see the ghosts as well. Now that he starts to bond with the ghosts with the help of paranormal expert Professor de Sorgues (Michel Duchaussoy), the five poltergeists agree to help Marc win Emma back. Eventually, they succeed and even open up the world’s first intermingled living and dead gay disco. 

Romance involves spectral voyeurs, I guess.

END SUMMARY

Most of my “B Movie Saturday” selections are based around the high standard of “whatever has a funny title” and you cannot tell me this movie doesn’t nail that particular requirement. I’m surprised that a movie with that title didn’t come out during the ‘80s, although I imagine that anything coming out back then with this title would probably have been insensitive to the point of being unwatchable. Instead, this movie starts off feeling like that kind of film, then somehow manages to subvert most of your expectations enough that it ends up being pretty entertaining. Also, despite being labeled a “horror” comedy on Amazon Prime, the only thing horrifying about this movie is that the ghosts are kind of perverted and invasive of Marc’s privacy (including watching him and Emma have sex and photographing him nude), although they’re from the 1970s, so I guess consent has come a long way.

Or maybe it’s okay to grope if you’re dead. I dunno.

The only comment I saw about this movie before watching it was a complaint on Amazon that all of the ghosts are reminiscent of the overly flamboyant gay stereotypes that populated cinema for most of its history. The word “mincing” was used in the statement, which might be why it appears to have been pulled since. The thing is, I think that’s really only true of the characters in terms of appearance. All of them are dressed in their finest, but of course they are, they died in a nightclub. They all have very different personalities and, while they do mostly enjoy messing with Marc, they all appear to be doing it for different reasons. Hell, Gilles even insists throughout the movie that, despite all appearances and his love of looking at nude men, that he’s straight and was only at the club “for the dancing.” This would be a lousy running gag if it weren’t played so seriously and if it didn’t end with him meeting the ghost of a dead Roman who died in a bathhouse that he was at “just for the bathing.” The two hit it off, naturally, and both quickly drop any pretense of being straight. It’s kind of an interesting character arc, particularly when the movie hints at why, even after dying, Gilles is so hesitant to admit his sexuality.

There’s not a lot of subtlety in the outfits, to be fair.

The key to the movie is that it is just campy enough, just caring enough, and just well-written enough to keep you hooked throughout. You do start to like all of the characters and want them to be happy.  Yes, a number of parts of the film are goofy as hell, but they’re the right kind of light-hearted comedy that never feels like they’re punching down at anyone. It’s a fun film and that’s clearly what they wanted to make. The biggest downside appears to be that many of the jokes in the movie don’t work as well when you have to read them. However, even with the subtitles, you’re going to have a good time.

And yeah, there’s the obligatory Village People scene.

Overall, a pretty solid foreign comedy.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Frank of Ireland: Some Decent Moments, But Needs Work – Amazon Prime Review

Brian Gleeson tries his hand at playing a thirty-something unlikable loser.

SUMMARY

Frank Marron (Brian Gleeson) is in his thirties, still living at home, unemployed, and determined to be a professional musician, despite his lack of talent or willingness to put effort into it. His best friend and sidekick is Doofus (Domhnall Gleeson), a local idiot (as the name would imply) who generally goes along with anything that Frank proposes. Frank has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Áine (Sarah Greene), who is now dating a very rich and talented doctor, Peter Bryan (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor). Also, his mother, Mary (Pom Boyd), doesn’t particularly like Frank living at home, mostly because it hinders her free lovin’ lifestyle. However, Frank is determined not to change, no matter how hard he has to work to prevent it.

These are Brendan Gleeson’s sons. Yes, he cameos.

END SUMMARY

I really had high hopes for this show, but it never quite hits its stride for an entire episode. Yes, there are a lot of really funny scenes throughout the show, but it just doesn’t have anything that can carry the show. While Brian and Domhnall Gleeson are both hilarious at times, and definitely both talented performers, the material is often lacking. It’s hard to keep “these guys are losers and idiots and they never learn better” going as a punchline. If Frank ever actually seemed to recognize that he’s a giant waste of carbon, then at least we could root for him. As it is, he’s just too dumb and too selfish to be worthwhile. He only ever seems to win when he points out that other people can be worse than him, but it’s only in specific instances. It’s hard to like a protagonist whose main skill is pointing out that other people suck too. Not that it doesn’t work at times, particularly when he points out that everyone else is in a cycle just as self-deceiving and destructive as him, but it’s kind of hard to believe that when at least they aren’t leeching off of everyone else. 

I mean, a series of fishookings at a funeral is a decent gag.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t a number of funny moments in this show. There absolutely are, and many of them are kept afloat primarily by the talent of the main cast. When they get into the groove, particularly Brian Gleeson and Pom Boyd, they can pull off some well-timed interactions that can really hit you in the gut. It’s also pretty funny that Mary is constantly mistreating all the men in her life in the same ways that male characters usually mistreat women, like having a boyfriend that pays rent while she sleeps with another tenant. 

Frank and Mary are amazing.

Overall, not the best show, but it has some solid moments. I don’t know that I would tell anyone to bother with season 1, but maybe it’ll find its stride in season 2.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Stripped to Kill: Surprisingly Progressive in Some Ways – Amazon Prime Review

This movie is filled with nudity but treats its female characters decently (by 80s standards).

SUMMARY (Written while drunk)

LAPD officer Cody (Kay Lenz) and her partner, Heineman (Greg Evigan), are working undercover in a low-rent neighborhood. They then find a stripper named Angel (Michelle Foreman) being thrown off of a bridge and then burned alive. LAPD pretty much immediately indicates they don’t really care about this, but Cody agrees to go undercover at Angel’s strip club to try and find the killer. Cody competes in an open stripping contest and wins by rigging the audience with cops who, the film notes, really were enthusiastic about the “look at strippers” assignment. Your tax dollars at work. She then gets hired when another girl, Cinnamon (Carlyle Baron), gets fired for drugs… and subsequently murdered. Cody starts to befriend some of the other girls at the club, but doesn’t get particularly close to Angel’s lover Roxanne (Pia Kamakahi). 

Undercover, uncovered.

Heineman starts to look into possible suspects, including the local pervert Pocket (Peter Scranton), a man named because the girls notice he has a hole cut in the pocket of his pants. Some of the other girls, believing that Pocket is the killer and that the cops don’t care about them, because they’re viewed as sex workers, beat the crap out of him, only for Heineman to discover that Pocket is actually missing a hand and thus couldn’t be the killer. Cody’s superiors find out that she’s still undercover and order her to quit, but she continues behind their backs, hoping to defend the other girls. Cody and Heineman eventually bang, because of course they do, and then they fight, because of course they do. Cody eventually meets Roxanne’s brother, Eric, and, suspicious, searches his place. She discovers that Eric has killed Roxanne (who was going to run off with Angel) and has been taking her place, including stripping using a pair of latex breasts. He chases her with a gun and eventually ends up back at the club where Eric starts shooting people randomly. Eventually, Cody covers him in gasoline and he burns to death when he shoots her. Heineman arrives and saves Cody from the fire and they probably bang again after the credits. 

This guy is basically useless to Cody, so I assume they break up after.

END SUMMARY

Last year I reviewed Ida Lupino’s movie The Hitchhiker. It’s a pretty timid horror film to the modern audience, but at the time it came out it was pretty unique. Part of that uniqueness is that it was the first film noir directed by a woman. While that film only had male characters, it still had an approach exploring the emotions and lives of the characters that didn’t happen much in films back then. In 1982, Amy Holden Jones and Rita Mae Brown came up with a low-budget film called Slumber Party Massacre under the Pope of Pop Cinema himself, Roger Corman. That movie came off like a less-scary Halloween, but it’s gained a cult following because, unlike most horror movies, the victims all came off as real people. What I’m saying is, women-directed scary movies, while they were rare back then (and now, honestly), tended to have a different approach to character development that set them apart. This movie takes that up a notch by treating strippers as actual people, something that I think even modern cinema is hesitant to do.

A progressive film.

While it’s pretty clear that the massive number of strip routines that feature in this movie, often intercut with other scenes, were probably one of the selling points to producer Roger Corman (yeah, same guy), they are actually treated as empowering, expressive, and artistic. It’s clear that Writer-Director Katt Shea (who would later make the film Poison Ivy), really considered strippers not just to be people, but talented performers. That stands in direct contrast to most ’80s horror. While the scenes are still done in a way that clearly cater towards getting men to fork over their paychecks, they’re damned impressive physically, particularly when we get to compare it to some of Cody’s original, very clumsy routines. 

She’s good at acting uncomfortable.

I’m not going to say that the actual acting or plot of this movie is great. The performances are often very flat and, while the twist ending doesn’t come out of nowhere, the fact that so much of this movie is occupied by strip routines does mean that there is not a lot of story. The character development between Cody and the other girls at the club is great and believable, while most of her interactions with Heineman are not. However, this movie is, at least, something different for the time period and it worked towards humanizing a group that most movies considered expendable. That’s something to be respected and I do recommend watching it for that reason.

Although, minus points for the trans person being a psycho killer, I guess.

Overall, if you don’t appreciate the feminism, you’ll appreciate the boobs, so… something for everyone?

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Llamageddon: Best. Title. Ever. – Amazon Prime Review

Holy f*cking space llama!

SUMMARY (Warning: Written while Drunk)

A llama (Louie the Llama) from a planet of llamas is sent to Earth to wreak havoc upon the masses. It lands on a farm in the middle of nowhere and, you know what, no, I’m not going to get into the plot of this film. It’s an evil llama. There are kids who party at the house near where it lands, it kills them, there’s blood and llama juice, and then there’s a teen who’s half-llama half-human and that’s a whole thing. Whatever, you didn’t watch Llamageddon for the plot. Among the people who were in this (almost all of whom used fake names or were named by parents who hate them) are: Dany Ambassa (also John Selmy, apparently?), Pinki Brainweis (trying to take over the world), L. Lean Burnside (Possibly a restaurant chain), E.B. Buxxner (clearly a porn name), James Earl Cox III (not a porn name, but could have been), Leona L. Dandee (OH COME ON, that’s a porn name), the Dewins (Algin, J. Align, and director Howie, who is very proud of himself), Papa Don (definitely a real name), Carter Fairfax (originally Carter Fairmail, but they changed it in the ninth century), Mary Haddilam (she’s very little), Sarah Hess (originally Sunshine Phoenix, but the stripper of that name sued), and Gooch Jesco III (heh… Jesco), Bradly Jonesy (similar to Brad Jones), Ki Ki Lang (… umm… pass?), Mama Lori (her grandkids love her), Lucy (in the sky with diamonds), Leanne Maira (Call me, Party Girl 1), Jared Marks (no points for you), Aaron O.O. Shanson (who pronounces it A.A. Ron), Erin Stacy (playing herself?), Dick Cymbals (too easy), and Chet Steadman (Gary Busey’s character in Rookie of the Year). 

No, no I did not.

END SUMMARY

As someone who has reviewed a ton of films based solely on the title (Bed of the Dead, Killer Sofa, Killer Pinata, Cheerleader Ninjas, Evil Toons, CarousHELL, Clownado… damn, I might have an addiction), I’m aware of the range of quality that can be associated with such films. They can be bad, they can be ironically bad, they can be so bad they’re good, and they can be so bad they’re a blight upon the very notion of the goodness of humanity. This movie is… mostly a joke. I mean, the people involved clearly knew they were making a schlocky horror movie for no money and with a cast of individuals who not only were not actors but mostly never aspired to be. Then, upon finishing the movie, they posted it on Amazon with a purchase price of $1 MILLION. 

Hot tubs cost money, man. Llamas need big tubs.

Clearly, this was just a way to have a good time for most of the people involved. It’s kind of hard to judge something like this, because if someone is intending to make something corny and weird and they make something corny and weird, does that mean it’s good or bad? Well, the answer is that it’s still bad, but you can appreciate the effort and, honestly, laugh your ass off at it. And, to be clear, by many standards of filmmaking, this movie is very bad (one person who watched it because I said I was going to claimed they will never forgive me), but it knows exactly what its doing. The characters are, intentionally, such exaggerated stereotypes that they may drive you a bit insane, particularly Floyd, the lead character, who is a mama’s boy until he gets laid and his voice literally drops. However, when you put a ton of stereotypical characters together with a space llama, it actually seems pretty hilarious. Particularly since the llama doesn’t JUST use its laser eyes to murder people, but comes up with other even more ridiculous methods.

But the laser eyes… those are big.

Look, I’m not going to say this movie deserves an Oscar, but, possibly thanks to about five shots of alcohol at the start, this film kept me laughing for quite a bit. If I lived in a state where it was legal, I’d say this was the perfect movie to get high and watch. Also, legitimate kudos to the animator, even though their scenes were few and far between. The planet of the llamas was awesome. 

Louie did deserve a Golden Globe nom, though.

Overall, if you love laughing at C-movies, this one will do the trick. Don’t take it seriously, because the people who made it didn’t, and you’ll have a good time. Also, I do want to see Llamageddon 2: ALPACALYPSE. 

Deep in the Valley: Kim Kardashian, Denise Richards, and Chris Pratt??? – Amazon Prime Review

Two roommates get stuck in a world that operates like a 1970s porn film.

SUMMARY (Warning: Written while drunk)

Lester Watts (Chris Pratt while he was still a normal-looking dude) works at a liquor store and also pretty much sucks. His roommate and best friend, Carl (Brendan Hines), is a sad sack with an abusive British fiance (Charlotte “N’Pepa” Salt). They have a beer after work and Lester wins a contest that results in him getting a vintage porn booth belonging to legendary porn star/producer Diamond Jim (Christopher “Shooter McGavin is also a porn name” McDonald). They get in the booth together despite how weird that sounds, but then they’re transported to a magical land populated by all of the porn films that Diamond Jim produced. Jim tells them they’re there until they learn a lesson, because movie has to plot. They quickly run afoul of the law, namely Detective Rod Cannon (Scott “I didn’t need the money” Caan) and dominatrix Suzi Diablo (Blanca Soto). 

The costumes are very traditional.

They manage to escape and hide out at a sorority run by Autumn Bliss (Denise Richards), where Carl meets Bambi (Rachel Specter), an “innocent” sorority girl, relative to the sex-charged others. Bambi and Carl start to fall for each other until a comic misunderstanding. Carl and Lester hide out at the local college and continue to, mostly, evade Rod and Suzi. In an attempt to escape to reality, they meet, briefly, with porn legend Summa Eve (Kim Kardashian) and rapper turned porn-star Busta Nut (Tracy Morgan, clearly playing Tracy Jordan). The protagonists then have a falling out in order to create third-act tension. They shortly reunite and break into Diamond Jim’s mansion, where it’s revealed that Lester is Jim’s son and Carl goes back to reality to f*ck Bambi, a thing that somehow didn’t happen in a world literally run by porn.

The face of local law enforcement.

END SUMMARY

When I put this movie on my list of potential B-movies, it was entirely based on the fact that the three people in the subtitle were mentioned as being in it. I wasn’t sure what the hell happened that would bring those particular people together. Then, I saw Christopher McDonald and Scott Caan in the cast list and I knew I would never be able to live with myself if I didn’t watch this movie. Just as a small aside, why the hell is Scott Caan here? Who did he lose a bet with? Who did he owe a favor to? This was after all three Ocean’s Eleven films. Sure, he wasn’t Danno 2.0 yet, but I can’t imagine he needed the money that badly. The movie isn’t even subtle about how much it appreciates his presence, there are literally photos of him in almost every room in the film, regardless of whether he’s there or not. On the other hand, I completely understand Tracy Morgan’s cameo, despite being 3 seasons into 30 Rock by this point. He is clearly playing Tracy Jordan in this film and, if I’m being honest, he gives the best performance because he perfectly matches the corny tone of a vintage porno. I’ll also give credit to the casting of Chris Pratt, because at this point in his career he definitely seems like the guy who watches porn at work. 

Shooter’s having a good day.

The thing about this movie is, it’s not “so bad, it’s good,” nor is it just “so bad.” Instead, this movie is “almost good.” There were a lot of solid lines and some funny moments in the film, way more than I expected from a movie like this. Almost everything Tracy Morgan says made me laugh, and Denise Richards making a double penetration joke was surprisingly hilarious. Most of the scenes have jokes hidden in the background, particularly on fliers or signs, something that I always appreciate. The problem is that this movie never quite got its tone straight and it relied too heavily on a gimmicky premise rather than using it as a setting to tell a funny story. There’s also a bunch of “gross-out” humor that didn’t work, at all. I really wish I could say it’s a dumpster fire, but it isn’t, it’s just a movie that didn’t quite work. Also, for some reason the R-rated version didn’t have nudity, which was a decision that baffles the mind. It’s a porno setting, you need some boobs.

Tracy Morgan is amazing.

Overall, glad I was drunk for this, but it was definitely not the train wreck I anticipated. Also, Shooter McGavin is still a better porn name than Diamond Jim. Just saying.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Them (Covenant): Racism is Still Bad, But Also Spooky – Amazon Prime Review

Amazon brings us a tale of a black family being tormented in the 1950s.

SUMMARY

Black couple Henry and Livia “Lucky” Emory (Ashley Thomas and Deborah Ayorinde) move with their daughters Ruby and Gracie (Shahadi Wright Joseph and Melody Hurd) to the white neighborhood of East Compton in Los Angeles. Immediately, they are set upon by their white neighbors, particularly the local queen bee Betty Wendell (Alison Pill). While at first the Emorys are just tormented by the racism, harassment, and degradation from their fellow East Compton residents, it soon becomes apparent that there is something more unnatural at play. Over ten days, the Emorys are slowly driven to the edge of madness and maybe even beyond.

The calm before the storm.

END SUMMARY

Does everyone remember Lovecraft Country? How about the movie US? I think before people condemn this show for being a rip-off version of those, it’s important to note that this show was actually put into production before those came out. It’s supposed to be an anthology by season, similar to American Horror Story. Unfortunately, due to the length of production (also Covid), this show came out after US (which it would probably not have been compared to directly aside from the title) and after Lovecraft Country (to which it cannot help but be directly compared due to the subject matter and the time period). Naturally, this show wouldn’t need to worry about that if it was better than either of those properties, but it decidedly is not. While Lovecraft Country ties racism directly into the origins of science-fiction and cosmic horror through the works of noted racist H.P. Lovecraft, this show instead just kind of throws out “people are racist here, so now magic?” ***SPOILER*** It doesn’t help that one of the final reveals kind of suggests that the racism in the neighborhood might be related to an unholy covenant from the 1800s, which means that some of the neighbors’ actions might not have been their fault? That kind of undercuts some of the events. ***SPOILER-END***

And, of course, the disturbing imagery abounds.

The main thing that seems to be mentioned repeatedly in reviews of this show is how over-the-top the violence gets and that’s a fair complaint. While I’m not against violence in television, particularly if it’s done to give the viewer an accurate image of historical violence, this show ends up taking it to a deeply uncomfortable level without it adding anything to the message. I did see some people commenting that the acts done to drive out the Emorys at the beginning of the show seemed too extreme to be believable, to which I would say that no, those are all things that were actually done to drive out black people from white neighborhoods and I think making sure people understand that is important. It’s the supernatural violence and the exploitative way the later episodes handled it that neither entertain nor keep the story going.

They have not had a nice week.

The performances in the show are well done, particularly Deborah Ayorinde as Lucky, a woman who has just lost one child and is now thrust into a situation that threatens her other children. She has to play a person who is constantly being pushed more than someone can handle and yet knows that if she shows it she’ll be condemned even more. Alison Pill, on the other hand, plays a character who doesn’t do most of the violent acts in the show but is still almost certainly the most despicable. 

She does a great job of soulless cheer.

Overall, the show was good at the beginning but really starts to get too much towards the end. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Invincible: A Solid Adaptation of a Great Comic – Amazon Prime Review

The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman’s teen hero comes to the small screen.

SUMMARY

Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) is the son of realtor Debbie Grayson (Sandra Oh) and writer Nolan Grayson (J.K. Simmons). Oh, and Nolan is actually Omni-Man, the world’s greatest superhero. Before his 18th birthday, Mark finally gets his superpowers and adopts the superhero moniker of Invincible. Now armed with flight, superstrength, superspeed, and the ability to make bad jokes mid-fight, Mark tries to live up to his father’s example. He works with the Teen Team, a group comprised of the Robot (Zachary Quinto), Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas), and Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow). Shortly after this, the Guardians of the Globe, the most powerful superteam on the planet, are killed, leading the world to need the Teen Team and Invincible to start picking up the slack, as new threats seem to be constantly on the rise.

He doesn’t fly super well, but he tries hard.

END SUMMARY

I loved the Invincible comic, as it was a story in which the main character dealt with real problems, hero problems, and the intersection between what a superhero is supposed to do and what would actually help people. Mark grows a lot over the series in believable ways that sometimes reflect his loss of idealism and often demonstrate that this loss allows him to evolve his sense of right and wrong without being broken by the weight of trying to take on the world’s problems. Also, the writing was pretty funny. Naturally, when I heard it was getting an animated adaptation, I was very excited, but also concerned. Invincible, while it was well-done and liked by many comic fans, didn’t have a lot of mainstream success. Typically, this means two things can happen in an adaptation: Either they’ll change everything (hoping the new version gets more attention) or they’ll just adapt it as closely as possible (since not enough people know what’s going to happen for it to matter). 

The trailers included some iconic comic scenes, making me think the latter.

Fortunately, this show seems to be eschewing both of those and giving a mostly-faithful adaptation with enough differences that comic fans will not be sure where it’s going. The story is mostly the same as the comics, so far, dealing with Mark trying to come to terms with being a superhero and also being a teenager. His insecurities about living up to his father’s example are a bit more exaggerated in the show, but that will likely change a bit during this season. There’s a mystery angle going on in the series that didn’t really happen in the comics and I’m excited to see if they play it out the same.

Whatever gives us more Omni-Man.

The voice cast in this show is as good as it gets, possibly rivaled only by DuckTales (woo-oo). Steven Yeun gives a ton of extra personality to Mark and J.K. Simmons as Superman with a mustache is nothing short of awesome. The supporting cast of the Teen Team has a ton of talent, and their expanded roster includes veteran voice actors Grey Griffin and Khary Payton. Walton Goggins plays the uptight and slightly shady head of the Global Defense Agency, Zazie Beetz plays Mark’s love interest Amber, and there are too many other great cameos and recurring performances to count, including Mahershala Ali, Clancy Brown, and Mark Hamill (Applause). 

Clancy Brown voices a demon detective. Perfect.

Overall, give this show a shot if you like solid superhero stories. I can’t wait for it to keep going.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Sound of Metal: You Have to Lose to Find – Amazon Prime Review

A drummer who starts to go deaf tries to move forward with his life.

SUMMARY

Ruben Stone (Riz Ahmed) is a drummer in a heavy metal duo, Blackgammon, with his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). They live in an RV and travel the country playing together, but Ruben suddenly seems to lose his hearing. When he’s diagnosed, it’s revealed that he can only hear 20-30% of the words that are spoken to him. He is told about cochlear implants, but they are prohibitively expensive and not covered by his insurance. Putting even more pressure on the situation, Ruben is a recovering heroin addict. Lou, upon finding out, helps Ruben get into a shelter which is run by a deaf recovering alcoholic named Joe (Paul Raci). Joe informs Lou that only Ruben will be allowed to stay there, and proceeds to start helping Ruben learn how to be deaf, including learning ASL under a teacher named Diane (Lauren Ridloff). However, it’s not so easy to get over the life you once had.

He’s very focused, as you might guess.

END SUMMARY

I honestly hesitated a little bit in reviewing this movie. Not that it isn’t a good film, in fact it’s fantastic, but this film features a controversy which I don’t seem to fully understand (mostly because I’m not deaf). This movie brings that conflict to the forefront, and it’s whether or not cochlear implants are an affront to deaf culture. In the film, much like in real life, cochlear implants are viewed by many deaf people as a way of destroying their culture and treating deafness as a handicap. I’m going to try to avoid weighing in on that too much beyond saying that it is an issue that the film addresses.

Pictured: Controversy.

There are really two central reasons that this film succeeds: Great sound editing and Riz Ahmed. As to the former, this is some of the best sound work that I’ve heard since A Quiet Place (which, notably, did NOT win the Oscar). The film has to convey what Ruben is going through, which is not quite deafness in the way that many movies portray it (where everything is just silent). If you’ve seen the horror movie Hush, for example, the film goes completely silent when scenes are portrayed from the protagonist’s P.O.V. Sound of Metal instead has to portray everything as muted, but not consistently so, because Ruben’s ears are not equally damaged. This would be an amazing film to watch in a theater, but, of course, this year is not the time for that. If you’ve got surround sound, though, this is the time to use it. As to Riz Ahmed, he just nails it. He has to play a person who is going through a massive life change which affects everything and, somehow, he always seems believable. He’s scared, he’s curious, he’s worried that he’s going to be tempted back into drugs, and he’s always feeling like he’s lost something. 

His scenes with the deaf kids are amazing.

The major supporting character of the movie is Paul Raci as Joe. Raci, who apparently was born to deaf parents and thus has about as much understanding for deaf culture as a hearing person can, constantly comes off as trying to touch Ruben’s heart in an attempt to make him feel whole. He’s not trying to tell him to get over it, nor even to accept it, he’s just trying to tell him to exist as he is. It’s amazing that he can do this while also appearing to be the kind of badass that would have punched his way through Vietnam if the Army hadn’t given him a gun. He takes no shit, but he gives a lot of affection and understanding.

The face kinda sums it up.

Overall, this is a great film and I really recommend it. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

The Goes Wrong Show: Unbelievably Funny and Creative – Amazon Prime Review

A British Comedy theater company brings us a hilarious concept that somehow doesn’t get old.

SUMMARY

Welcome to Play of the Week, a program in which the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society attempts to put on an original play every week and broadcast it live to the whole of the UK. The troupe is led by director Chris Dean (Henry Shields), and includes the “great” actors Robert Groves (Henry Lewis), Dennis Tyde (Jonathan Sayer), Max Bennett (Dave Hearn), Sandra Wilkinson (Charlie Russell), Vanessa Wilcock-Wynn-Carroway (Bryony Corrigan), Annie Twilloil (Nancy Zamit), Trevor Watson (Chris Leask), Jonathan Harris (Greg Tannahill), and a studio audience who is apparently having a great time. Unfortunately, it seems that the members are never quite able to get all of their ducks in a row. The actors forget lines, the stages are improperly built, and, occasionally, someone gets arrested for petty crimes. 

They’re a talented bunch.

END SUMMARY

Back in 2015, when the world was so very different, the “Mischief Theater” debuted “The Play That Goes Wrong,” in which a troupe attempts to debut a The Mousetrap-style mystery play that, as you would guess from the title, goes completely off-the-rails. It was apparently a hit, because the people behind it were given this show in which they have to do exactly the same thing, over and over again, without it getting stale. Sure, you may think that doesn’t sound that difficult, but how many ways do you really think a play can “go wrong?” Saying the wrong lines or missing cues can only be surprising so many times. Unbelievably, this show manages to keep coming up with refreshing, original, and genuinely hilarious every episode. Granted, there are only 6 episodes at present, but even that is damned impressive.

Sometimes there’s fire.

Part of the reason the show works is that the cast are phenomenal. It takes a lot of talent to act, believably, like someone with no talent, and most of the cast have to not only do that, but to do that in different ways every time. Additionally, the physical stunts on this show sometimes border on the insane. Characters will fall off of the second story regularly, a thing that looks much more impressive when you see the insane buildup. They also will routinely get knocked around by other cast members (on purpose or on accident), get shoved through walls, and get catapulted across the stage. The fact that they’re recording this in front of a studio audience makes it even more impressive. 

Sometimes it’s a hair issue… or something more.

Another solid trait is that each episode has some sort of “prompt,” which has nothing to do with the theme of the play. For example, they need to stretch for time so they are adding words to the script. Each of these prompts means that there’s already something that is “off” about the play, which makes it even more intense when the actors not only have other things go wrong, but also still have to keep the prompt going. 

A lot of the time, it’s that the set designers got drunk at lunch.

Overall, it’s a great show and I really recommend checking it out. One of the funniest shows I’ve watched in a while.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.