High-Rise Invasion: A Strange World of Kill or Be Killed – Netflix Review

A young girl wakes up in the opposite of wonderland.

SUMMARY 

Yuri Honjo (Haruka Shiraishi/Suzie Yeung) is a high school girl who finds herself suddenly in an alternate world populated by a number of skyscrapers which are connected by suspension bridges. She manages to call her brother, Rika (Junya Enoki/Zeno Robinson), who reveals that he is also trapped in this world. It turns out that the high-rises are populated by mask-wearing people who are compelled to try and drive other humans to suicide. Among them is the Sniper Mask (Yūichirō Umehara/Jonah Scott), a stylish killer with, as the name implies, a sniper rifle. Yuri manages to find a knife-wielding girl named Mayuko Nise (Shiki Aoki/Jennie Kwan) whom she befriends. Eventually, they find other humans, including a woman named Kuon Shinzaki (Akira Sekine/Stephanie Sheh) who is immune from the attacks of the masks. Yuri has to find out the truth behind this world and find a way out.

She’s not having a good time.

END SUMMARY

I’m sure there’s an actual term for this kind of show, but I don’t know it. It’s the genre where a group of people spontaneously are pulled into another world that is almost identical to the regular one and forced to play a game that is, in reality, part of a much bigger plot. The most famous example is probably GANTZ, although I’m sure that’s not the oldest one. The show Alice in Borderland is another one that has recently been on Netflix. The genre tends to be at its best when it focuses more on the characters and the worldbuilding than on the particular game that the participants are forced to play. This show does a good job of focusing mostly on the feelings and the relationships between the characters rather than just on delivering action sequences. Because of that, when you actually do get an action sequence, it’s more impactful. 

They can also come out of nowhere, because sniper.

That’s not to say that the worldbuilding isn’t solid. Even though this season only takes us about 12 episodes in, there are a lot of hints about what is really going on and it is clearly much larger than it seems. It seems to be building up to a more metaphysical second season, but not in a way that invalidates our characters’ actions during the past.

Also, perhaps more hammer.

Overall, pretty solid show. Just be aware that it’s pretty gory and a little rapey at times.

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I Care A Lot: Who Is the Real Villain? – Netflix Review

The answer is largely all of the people who do this in real life.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a con-artist who makes her living by convincing the law to give her guardianship over elderly people, allowing her to shove them in assisted-living facilities from which she cuts off all outside contact. She is assisted by her former police officer girlfriend Fran (Elza Gonzalez), assisted living manager Sam Rice (Damian Young), and Karen Amos (Alicia Witt), the doctor who fabricates many diagnoses in order to convince the court, specifically the aloof Judge Lomax (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), to permit Marla to take care of these people. After she runs her scam and commits a woman named Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest) against her will, Marla discovers that Jennifer may not be who she seems. In fact, she may be connected to a former mob boss named Roman Lunyov (Peter Dinklage) who does not like having her inside of the facility and is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get her out. Unfortunately, he may be underestimating Marla’s greed.

Don’t trust anyone who wears sunglasses indoors this much.

END SUMMARY

I would like to start off by saying that Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage are great in this film. So great that you genuinely find yourself wanting to see more of them, despite the fact that their characters are two of the worst people you could put on film without moving into gore porn. Roman is a mob boss whose reputation and behavior makes it pretty clear that he will murder almost anyone that gets in the way. However, in this particular situation, he is actually not in the wrong, since Marla has manipulated the legal system to essentially imprison Jennifer. Moreover, Marla keeps making Jennifer’s life miserable just to punish her for Roman’s actions, which makes getting her out seem more justified. It’s telling that in a movie where one of the characters is a murderer, that you would have difficulty determining which of the two is more ruthless and evil. After all, we see how horribly Marla treats Jennifer before she even finds out about Roman, and we can assume that she treats the dozens of people under her care exactly like that. If so, she is perhaps hurting people more than if she just shot them in the head. 

Even though Dinklage has that hair, he’s still threatening.

The key to this movie is that both sides keep pushing each other and refusing to back down, even when they’re each expecting the other two. Marla is offered several hundred thousand dollars to just let Jennifer go, but she stands firm with wanting millions, even when it’s clear that Roman will eventually move from the carrot to the stick in a very final way. Roman seems constantly surprised and upset over Marla’s complete lack of fear of him or his reputation. For both of these people, it’s obvious that the only thing that will ever stop them is if one of them gets a bullet through the heart. It doesn’t help that Marla often seems to try and justify her actions as being the only way to get ahead as a woman, or perhaps as a gay woman, which kind of fails as a feminist message.

You don’t have to torture the innocent because of “Feminism.”

It makes it even more tragic when you realize that, while people like Roman are hunted by most of society and forced to work in the shadows, Marla’s grift is completely legal and likely practiced by thousands of people across this country. Sure, there are likely a lot of people who do care for the elderly and treat them with respect and dignity, but a short search about nursing home bad practices indicates that there are a lot that don’t, too. Even when caught, they usually get fined less than the amount of money they made off of the mistreatment, so, much like this film, the only thing that might ever stop them is confronting someone who won’t let the legality get in the way of morality. Or legislation, if we weren’t governed by assholes (if you’re not from the US, apologies, maybe you’re not governed by assholes. But you probably are).

Jennifer has done bad things, but she probably doesn’t deserve this.

Overall, it’s a good movie, but it will probably not leave you with a great feeling at the end. 

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Red Dot: An Icy Human Hunt – Netflix Review

This Swedish film tells the story of a couple chased across the snow by killers. 

SUMMARY

David (Anastasios Soulis) and Nadja (Nanna Blondell) are a married couple whose relationship has been souring for months. When Nadja discovers she’s pregnant, Nadja confides in their neighbor, Tomas (Thomas Hanzon), that they’ve been having problems. Ultimately, the pair decide to take a romantic ski vacation to try and rekindle their spark. They end up in a place called Bear Valley, where the locals don’t exactly take to them, seemingly due to their interracial marriage. Nadja even calls out a pair of locals who damage their vehicle. However, they soon see a red dot appear on their tent. While they don’t immediately know what it is, their dog is soon killed and they discover that someone out there is trying to hunt them down. The two are desperate to survive, but it turns out that there may be more to the story than it originally seemed. 

Also, it’s very cold.

END SUMMARY

This movie is going to require a spoiler discussion, so here’s the spoiler-free review: This movie is so close to being really good. The parts with the couple being hunted are very intense and, since almost anyone they meet is a stranger, filled with suspicions and twists. Since this isn’t like having a slasher stalk you, the real terror comes from the fact that the shot can come from almost anywhere at any time. It’s handled well within the film. 

Be Warned: The Dog does not make it, which is very sad.

The performances are all pretty solid, particularly Nanna Blondell, who plays Nadja as much more devious and ruthless than you would originally suspect. It adds a couple of layers to the film as it builds towards a fairly major climax which reveals more about Nadja and David than you’d expect from this kind of movie. The ending does require you to pay attention in order to make sense, but it works pretty well if you pay attention.

There are some rough moments.

Overall, it’s a decent film, although I’ll warn you that the ending might leave you a little upset.

****SPOILERS****

So, it’s revealed that David and Nadja, right after getting engaged, were driving in the car when Nadja decided to give David a handjob (or possibly the beginnings of road head). While distracted, David ran over a small child, who turns out to be Tomas’s son. Nadja wanted to stop, but David decided to just keep driving. Tomas then stalked them for months, moved in next to them, befriended them, recommended the trip to David, had his brother-in-law plan their trip, and planned to force David to drill into Nadja’s stomach to kill their baby. Nadja manages to escape, but when she returns to rescue him, she’s shot dead by Tomas’s wife. They leave David to suffer with his loss, with David saying “I understand now.”

I mean, it does make sense that the sniper wasn’t trying to kill them, I guess.

This ending pisses me off a bit, because it almost tries to justify the vengeance that Tomas inflicted on them, despite the fact that it was overly complicated and batshit crazy. He could easily have taken his revenge while they were living next to them, but instead waits until they’re pregnant, trying to equate aborting the pregnancy to child murder. The problem is that those things are in no way equal for the parents. Nadja losing a baby that they don’t really seem to have planned on is not the same as having two strangers murder your child that you loved, named, and have years of memories with. Even at the end, when they murder Nadja, that’s still not the same and it never will be. I dunno, just left a sour taste in my mouth.

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The Crew: A Netflix Algorithm Sitcom – Netflix Review

Kevin James, Gary Anthony Williams, and Sarah Stiles get thrown into a NASCAR pit.

SUMMARY

Kevin Gibson (Kevin James) is the crew chief for Bobby Spencer (Bruce McGill) Racing, a low-ranked NASCAR team. He oversees chief mechanic Chuck Stubbs (Gary Anthony Williams), chief engineer Amir Lajani (Dan Ahdoot), and office manager Beth Paige (Sarah Stiles), as well as idiot driver Jake Martin (Freddie Stroma). The owner, Bobby, retires and puts his daughter, Catherine (Jillian Mueller), in charge of the program. An Ivy-leaguer, Catherine’s more sophisticated and by-the-books management quickly gets on the nerves of the more traditional pit crew, but when Jake and the crew start winning, it turns out that maybe this was just what they needed.

Busch: Because you don’t want to watch this sober.

END SUMMARY

A while back, Netflix announced that it was using various computer algorithms to try and generate ideas for new shows.  Some of those shows, like House of Cards, ended up being fairly successful.  Some, like The Ranch, did fairly well with a targeted demographic, but didn’t receive critical acclaim.  This show will probably end up in the latter category.  It’s not particularly well written, nor is it very original, but it has just enough talents on camera to keep it going at just the right speed to be bingeable.  It’s like a slow drip of morphine.  You are not getting high off of it, you’re just getting numb for a little while.

Admittedly, there are some fun scenes, usually when Kevin’s mad.

This is not to say that it doesn’t have its moments.  Kevin James, despite some of his career decisions in the past, does tend to make me laugh.  Gary Anthony Williams, who I have always found to be pretty entertaining, makes a decent foil for many of the aspects of NASCAR that tend to give it a whitewashed reputation.  The rest of the characters are mostly stock.  Amir is the neurotic character who is often the butt of many of the jokes, Catherine is the elitist who tries to steamroll everything into her own image, Bobby is the old Southern boy, Jake is the moron who gets by on his looks and natural talent, and Beth is the only woman inside a boy’s club.  I will admit that my natural fondness for Sarah Stiles, especially since she played Spinel in Steven Universe, made me enjoy the scenes with her character more than I might have otherwise, since I felt she was massively underwritten.

Sure, the NASCAR parts are sponsored by Busch, but the beer is unlabled.

Overall, though, this show just felt so generic that it genuinely seemed to have been written by a computer designed to churn out mediocrity and inoffensive jokes.  Skip it.

Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba): An Amazing Action Anime – Netflix Review

The franchise with the highest-grossing film in Japan’s history earned that acclaim.

SUMMARY

It’s the Taishō Era of Japan’s history (1912-1926). Tanjiro Kamado (Natsuki Hanae/Zach Aguilar) is the eldest son of his family and, following his father’s death, a charcoal seller in the mountains. One day, after coming home from a trip to the nearest town, he finds out that his entire family was massacred. The only “survivor” is his sister, Nezuko (Akari Kitō/Abby Trott), who has been transformed into a demon that craves human flesh. However, when a demon slayer named Tomioka (Takahiro Sakurai/Johnny Yong Bosch) tries to kill her, Tanjiro tries to defend her and, surprisingly, she defends him, revealing that she has retained some of her humanity. Tanjiro is sent to train to be a demon slayer, soon joining forces with fellow demon slayers Zenitsu Agatsuma (Hiro Shimono/Aleks Le), a coward who becomes a master swordsman while asleep, and Inosuke Hashibara (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryce Papenbrook), a wildman with tremendous strength. Together, they work to help rid Japan of demons and hopefully cure Nezuko.

There are a bunch of other cast members, too.

END SUMMARY

I had heard of this when it was a manga, but I had never actually read it. Then I saw it get put on Netflix a while ago, but I hadn’t watched it, since it seemed a little generic from the ads. What finally led me to try and watch it was actually reading an article about how the film that apparently follows the first season of this show, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, broke a slew of box-office records despite, or because of, opening in 2020. It’s now the highest-grossing Japanese movie, taking down Spirited Away after almost 20 years. So, if a film can unseat a true Ghibli masterpiece, I had to check out the source material, and that was definitely the right decision.

There appears to be a lot more fire in the movie.

Almost everything in this show is well-done, but the main thing this anime does better than most is pacing. The story progresses at a pace that, while not overly fast, is also much faster than almost any anime longer than 13 episodes. I realize that’s partially because the manga was complete before the anime started, but the show largely avoids the traditional anime issue of having to drag out fight scenes for multiple episodes or to have recap episodes. Instead, most of the fights are action-packed and extremely creative, particularly since they often showcase a handful of swordsmen having to overcome unbelievably powerful demons using little more than their wits and some training. 

Also, great background work for the fights.

The other strength is the characters. The protagonist, Tanjiro, is one of the best anime protagonists out there, because he really is only fighting in order to save his sister. At all times, it’s the bond he feels with her and through her the rest of his family, that keeps him going and helps him maintain his extreme empathy and kind personality no matter what he goes through. It’s not that he’s naive, far from it, he just knows that there is evil in the world and chooses to be kind anyway. Moreover, he shows kindness in a believable and human way, something that’s hard to do without seeming sappy. The rest of the cast is similarly deeper and more relatable than you would expect from a show called “Demon Slayer,” particularly many of the demons who live tortured existences that they’re suppressing through their rage.

Also, he has normal hair for an anime protagonist.

Overall, just a great series and I cannot wait for more. 

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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Charming: A Good Premise Wasted – Netflix Review

We get the reverse story of a classic character, but it doesn’t quite work.

SUMMARY

Phillipe Charming (Wilmer Valderrama) is a prince who was cursed by a fairy named Nemeny Neverwish (Nia Vardalos) to be irresistible to women. However, if he fails to find his true love before his 21st birthday, his kingdom will forever become incapable of love. Seeking to find his true love, Charming proposes to three princesses shortly before his 21st birthday: Snow White (Avril Lavigne), Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), and Sleeping Beauty (G.E.M.). Thief Lenore Quinonez (Demi Lovato) gets arrested after robbing all three princesses and a royal carriage, accidentally revealing that the three are engaged to the same man in the process. Being the most skillful fighter in the land, Lenore, who is also the only woman immune to Charming, is hired to escort Charming on his challenging quest called “The Gauntlet,” which will supposedly help him find his true love (which everyone believes will be one of the princesses). Disguised as a man named Lenny, she does her best to keep him alive. Unfortunately, Charming is pretty much incompetent at everything, so that will be more challenging than expected. 

Yes, he has a goatee.

END SUMMARY

The idea of being supernaturally attractive to women being a curse is actually a pretty funny concept and the movie almost does some clever stuff with it. One of the best parts of the movie is the revelation that Charming is completely unskilled at anything because fifty percent of the population will do anything he asks at a moment’s notice and most of the other half has to listen to him because he’s a prince. Without ever having had any challenges, there’s no reason he should ever have grown as a person. Additionally, Charming literally has no idea what love really is because he is incapable of having a real conversation with a woman. They all instantly find everything he says enchanting (though, to be fair, he is actually pretty suave at times), so they usually only want to talk about how amazing he is. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t have enough depth to use it fully.

They did do a good fake mustache.

The film, like most fairy tale movies post-Shrek, does try to take some shots at traditional stories, such as having a song by the princesses highlight the more disturbing aspects of their stories or a number of “jokes” about the deep psychological damage that has been done to them because of all of the trauma they have endured. Some of them, like Sleeping Beauty saying Charming did the thing everyone would do to a comatose person and others suggesting things like “calling a doctor” or “just move on and ignore them,” are actually kind of funny. Most of them aren’t, though, and they tend to just remind you that you’re not watching a well-written film. The songs, similarly, are sometimes decent until one of them is so bad it reminds you that this is NOT a Disney film.

In no way are these designs based on Disney.

The worst part, though, is the love story between Charming and Lenore. Not only does it follow the most obvious plotline at all times, it often doesn’t feel reasonable or real. It doesn’t help that they gave Demi Lovato a big love song and the animation on it never seems to match Demi Lovato’s singing voice. I genuinely watched it while saying “there’s no way in hell THAT voice came out of THAT woman.”

You really won’t buy it.

Overall, just not a great film, even though it had a number of decent elements. 

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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Space Sweepers: A Surprisingly Sweet Space Opera – Netflix Review

This South Korean film takes us to a sadly realistic future of mostly doom.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s 2092 and everything is pretty well and truly terrible. Earth’s nearly dead, so the UTS corporation, run by definitely not-evil guy James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), builds a new orbiting civilization for the few who can become UTS citizens. Those who escape Earth but aren’t citizens can work as Space Sweepers, astronauts who pick up space debris and sell it to UTS. One group of sweepers is the crew of the Victory, consisting of former special forces commander Kim Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri), former drug kingpin Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu), and former military robot Bubs (Yoo Hae-jin). The group barely manage to keep floating on their scrap runs until they find a small child inside of a destroyed car. The child turns out to be a robot named Dorothy (Park Ye-rin), who contains a hydrogen bomb capable of destroying everything in a wide range. Naturally, a number of parties want her. But it turns out that this may be an exceptionally special little girl, beyond even what they think.

Shows about Blue-Collar astronauts are often great.

END SUMMARY

If you like a comedy based around bad-ass space pirates with hearts of gold, then may I recommend the show Firefly? It’s pretty amazing. After you watch that, though, this movie was also a fun example of that weirdly specific genre. Much like that series, the strength of this film comes from how well the main characters play off of each other. Despite the fact that they would largely seem to have the same kind of personality, being that they’re all former military or warriors, they actually have a lot of different viewpoints over how to deal with the various challenges they run into. It’s a great way to work a deeper character study into a space opera.

Yes, the robot is wearing a hoodie. Don’t question it.

The performances in the movie are all great, ranging from the rapidly deteriorating Richard Armitage, who starts as Elon Musk as envisioned by his supporters and ends at Elon Musk as envisioned by his Twitter page, to the secretly sweet Tiger Park to Bubs, the transgender robot (granted, she’s CGI, but she’s amazing CGI). I do think one of the better performances was Song Joong-ki as Kim Tae-ho, who undergoes a massive character moment during the film and it hit me harder than I would have expected a movie like this to be capable of. Each of the characters treats Dorothy a little differently and the scenes with the child are often among the best in the film.

It helps that she really is an adorable little girl.

Overall, if you haven’t seen this movie, you really should give it a try. Sadly, it’s not about curling, but almost everything else is well-done.

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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Finding ‘Ohana: It’s the Goonies Go Hawaiian – Netflix Review

A group of kids track down an old pirate treasure through booby-trapped caves… in Hawaii.

SUMMARY

Pili (Kea Peahu) is a geocacher from Brooklyn whose mother, Leilani (Kelly Hu), takes her and her brother Ioane “E” (Alex Aiono) to O’ahu for the Summer in order to help out their grandfather Kimo (Branscombe Richmond). When they arrive, Pili finds an old diary belonging to a sailor named Monks (Ricky Garcia), depicting his journey hiding a treasure after he was on a mutineering crew led by Robinson and Brown (Marc Evan Jackson and Chris Parnell). Pili, Ioane, local boy Casper (Owen Vaccaro), and Ioane’s crush Hana (Lindsay Watson) all set off on a journey to find the treasure, hopefully in time to pay off Kimo’s debts so that he can keep his home.

There’s a lot of stuff in the caves.

END SUMMARY

This was a pretty good film, even if it is almost directly a rip-off of the Goonies formula. The kids are all pretty charming and have a nice “four man band” array of personalities, so all of their interactions stay fresh and fun as they work their way through the various traps. There’s a decent amount of character depth for this kind of movie, with a number of solid emotional moments between the characters. It also does a decent job of celebrating Hawaii’s natural beauty and culture.  

Yeah, lot of Goonies here.

There is one thing that the movie does that stands out brilliantly, however, and I honestly would have wanted more of it. During multiple parts of the film, the children speculate about the motivations of the pirates, but the speculation plays out with the pirates saying and doing exactly what the kids say. It looks and feels almost exactly like an episode of Drunk History and the fact that it’s Chris Parnell and Marc Evan Jackson just makes it that much funnier. 

Lot of talent in this reenactment.

Overall, this was a fun movie for young people and it’s not bad for anyone in general. I will say there is one thing about the film that drove me a little nuts, but it requires a Spoiler, so I’m giving you an out.

***SPOILER***

At the end of the movie, they find the treasure and find out that it’s in a tomb. According to Hawaiian tradition, whatever is left in a tomb becomes an offering to the spirits. When Ioane tries to take the treasure anyway, the flames in the tomb turn blue and a horde of Hawaiian ghosts start chasing the kids. Eventually, the kids are spared because one of the spirits was Pili and Ioane’s dead father, who keeps them safe from the other ghosts. This ending was so insane that I almost thought it ruined the movie. Nothing else in the film is supernatural and, rather than leaving this ambiguous, the movie explicitly says that Hawaiian religion is apparently correct and ghosts are real. This was not hinted at by anything in the film before that point. It was unnecessary and off-putting, but fortunately the rest of the movie was pretty good.

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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Kid Cosmic: It’s Out of This World Brilliant – Netflix Review

The creator of Powerpuff Girls teams up with a murderer’s row of talent to bring Netflix this show.

SUMMARY

Kid (Jack Fisher) is a nerdy kid who dreams of becoming a superhero. One day, he witnesses an alien spacecraft crash and finds five stones which he turns into “rings of power,” despite having NO reason to believe they have powers. However, his instincts turn out to be true and the stones do, in fact, give powers to anyone that wears them, granting him the power of flight. He soon forms a superhero team out of the few people who live nearby: His 4-year-old neighbor Rosa (Lily Rose Silver) gains the ability to grow huge as “Nina Gigantica;” his friend Jo (Amanda C. Miller) becomes “Portal Girl,” mistress of portals; his grandfather Papa G (Keith Ferguson) can make clones of himself as “Old Man Many Men;” and his cat, Tuna Sandwich (Fred Tatasciore), gains the ability to see the future as Precognitive Cat. Together, they must save the Earth from alien threats, including their mostly-captive and sarcastic nemesis Stuck Chuck (Tom Kenny). Unfortunately, it turns out that while they do have superpowers, they’re not very good at using them.

Meet the greatest heroes on Earth.

END SUMMARY

When I saw the ad for this show, I assumed it was a crappy kids show that would quickly be forgotten. Unfortunately, given the lack of attention it’s getting, most people must have assumed the same. The only reason I tried it was because I saw that it was created by Craig McCracken, the creator of The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander Over Yonder. While the only one I ever watched was Powerpuff Girls, I do know that these were supposed to be quality series, so I gave this show a shot and it was amazing. It turns out that it’s not just McCracken, though. Almost every episode has contributions from other great directors and writers, including DuckTales creator Francisco Angones, Amy Higgins from Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch, and My Life as a Teenage Robot creator Rob Renzetti, to name just a few. Lot of talent on the show, is what I’m saying.

An army of talent.

The premise of “superteam that just isn’t competent” is definitely not new, but there are few shows that play it as well as this. Part of it is that the team members aren’t exactly suited for their particular abilities, given that the strongest member is an uncontrollable child, the precognitive member can’t speak, and the person who can make clones of himself is a fairly weak old man. However, the show not only demonstrates them getting better at using their abilities in creative ways over time, the show also keeps changing up some of the core dynamics so that the central conceit of “incompetent heroes” never gets stale. I’ve never seen a show so willing to change its premise so many times in just 10 short episodes, but it works. Instead of focusing on episodic adventures, the show focuses on the emotional journeys of the characters as they deal with these changes and that makes it much deeper than you’d expect from this kind of series.

Watching a kid’s faith be shaken is harsh.

The art style takes a little getting used to. It’s designed to replicate older Newspaper Strips like Dennis the Menace and it definitely stands out a lot among modern series, but it may also throw you off. However, like Into the Spiderverse, once you get used to it, it really feeds into the themes and characterization of the show. It also helps make a number of art conceits easier to accept, like flying saucers or 1950s style aliens. By the end, I was sold on it.

The retro imagery works.

Overall, just a great show that needs more people to watch it. There are hopefully two more seasons on the way, so maybe it’ll get a little more attention by then.

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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Below Zero: Revenge Is Best Served Cold – Netflix Review

This Spanish-language revenge film brings us a harsh look at morality.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Martin (Javier Gutiérrez) is a police officer who has a strong moral code, something that irks some of his fellow officers, like Montesinos (Isak Férriz). He is assigned for a late-night prison transport run with Montesinos which is supposedly completely covert. However, as the run gets foggier and snowier in the middle of nowhere, the prison convoy is attacked. It runs out that a man named Miguel (Karra Elejalde) needs one of the prisoners, Nano (Patrick Criado), and he is willing to kill everyone in the convoy to get him. At the same time, another prisoner, Ramis (Luis Callejo), masterminds an attempted break-out. Now Martin is going to have to deal with the prisoners, the lone gunman, and the freezing conditions in order to get home alive.

Driving into the void and the cold. Good times.

END SUMMARY

So, this is another movie where I felt like I had to look at it because it was number one on Netflix, something I don’t really expect from a Spanish-language film. Having looked at it, I… don’t really know why it was number one. It’s not a bad movie, to be sure, but there are much better movies on almost every level in the same kind of genre. Still, I watched it, so you people are going to hear about it. That’s how this relationship works.

Much like the relationships in the film, I guess.

Let’s go over the things that this film does right: It definitely keeps the danger and the tension ratcheting up throughout the story. Part of this is because it starts the film off with establishing that something sinister is being planned by Miguel, who clearly has few moral qualms about brutally torturing or killing people in order to get what he wants. At the same time, we see Ramis preparing, very elaborately, for his escape, so we know that both of these plots are eventually going to play out.  Also, the theme of morality plays out well. Miguel originally seems like a ruthless psychopath, particularly in contrast to the more inflexibly moral Martin. When it becomes clear what Miguel’s looking for, though, the whole thing becomes a lot more complicated and, ultimately, Martin’s moral hard-line is called into question. The performances are mostly pretty solid, particularly Miguel and Martin.

Fun times.

Then there are the weak points: A lot of what Miguel pulls off seems literally impossible. Some are cartoonishly impossible, like killing multiple people before any of them can use their radios, but naturally he can’t kill Martin with the same efficiency or the movie would be over. The cold environment, which should provide the ultimate threat, doesn’t factor in for more than a scene or two, really. Also, it’s a bit too long and several characters are massively underdeveloped.

Sure, puffy jackets solve everything.

Overall, it’s a pretty good movie on balance, but not something that needs to go to the top of your list.

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.