Amazon Prime Mini-Review – Hunters: Nazi Punks F*ck Off

Amazon gives us a dark story of the people who try to thwart the rise of the American Reich.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Jonah Heidelbaum (Logan Lerman) is a math prodigy and a drug dealer who witnesses his grandmother (Jeannie Berlin) being murdered one night. It turns out that she was a member of the Hunters, a group of Nazi-killers led by Meyer Offerman (Al “Please Forget I Was In Jack and Jill” Pacino), a holocaust survivor. Meyer and the other Hunters reveal that there are a number of Nazis who escaped after the fall of the Third Reich and made their way to America where they have acquired positions of power and are conspiring to create a Fourth Reich under the Colonel (Lena Olin). 

Hunters - 1Pacino
Pacino’s still recovering from getting the Oscar for Scent of a Woman

END SUMMARY

So, Nazis suck. I’m told this is a political position nowadays, but my grandfather thought they sucked enough that he got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star fighting them, so I’m going to stand by my position. Any further discussion on this post is going to contain anti-Nazi opinions. If that bothers you, well, go f*ck yourself, Snowflake. 

This show is pretty dark, mostly because it frequently, by necessity, addresses the horrors of the Holocaust and the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis. People are frequently shown being murdered, tortured, humiliated, and worse, all because of the beliefs of the Third Reich. Moreover, it is shown that America is more willing to tolerate those same beliefs than we would like to admit, as long as they’re couched in something a little more subtle. While the show doesn’t go full-on into the relationship between American racism and the Third Reich, it does make it clear that the Hunters only do this because they are sure that the actual authorities won’t. 

Hunters - 2Cast
The fact that they’re a diverse group probably ensures the authorities don’t trust them.

However, weirdly, the show actually doesn’t go as heavy into the disgusting behavior of the Third Reich as you might want. Instead, it comes up with comic-book-esque supervillainy that, while not less horrible than some of the things that the Nazis DID do, come off as somewhat ridiculous and almost farcical. I understand why the Auschwitz Memorial didn’t appreciate some of the sequences, because there really isn’t any point in doing inaccurate portrayals of the Holocaust when an accurate one would do the job better. I mean, you have some of the worst monsters in world history, you don’t have to give them weirder kinks just for watchability.

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The chess sequence is particularly insane. 

That’s sort of where the show fails: It just keeps trying to give us some more enjoyable and familiar scenes at the cost of a consistent or grounded narrative. There are a lot of stylized cut-aways similar to the ones in Inglourious Basterds or Kill Bill or… well, a lot of Tarantino films, as well as many modern superhero movies, which kind of undercut the very grave nature of the subject matter. I mean, I don’t want to see Josh Radnor doing a fake PSA in character right after I’ve watched a realistic story about Auschwitz. 

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Also, action nun is a weird thing to put in this series. 

Despite that, the show still kind of works because of the performances. While Pacino’s accent may be a bit much, he’s still Al Pacino and, when the moment calls for it, even he remembers that he can be a subtle and convincing actor. Logan Lerman delivers an amazing performance as well, really holding the story together. Dylan Baker is excellent as one of the undercover Nazis, hamming it up in a surreal way that does actually perfectly match the tone of the series. 

Hunters - 6Baker
He’s wearing an apron during his first murder. 

It also helps that, since the bad guys are Nazis, you never really feel bad about what happens to them. The Hunters tend to work on a love of ironic punishments, making Nazis suffer what they did to the Jews, but there’s not a ton of moral ambiguity even when they’re being seemingly cruel. It also helps that the action sequences and the cutaways are really entertaining, even if they’re a bit jarring at times.

Overall, I did like the show. It’s not really as unique as I was hoping, but it was enjoyable. 

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.

VelociPastor: Cancel the Oscars, the Winner is Here

WATCH THIS MOVIE.

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There’s a movie about a Priest with dinosaur powers fighting ninjas and it’s everything that description would promise… and more.

SUMMARY

I’m sorry, did you need more than a PRIEST with DINOSAUR POWERS fighting NINJAS?

Look, here’s the trailer.

You’re welcome. You’re. Welcome.

For those of you who can’t watch it now, here’s the gist:

Doug Jones (Greg Cohan) is a Priest whose parents are killed by a car bomb. To deal with the hit to his faith, he heads to China, where he finds a relic that causes him to turn into a dinosaur when he’s really angry or hungry. After returning to America, he saves a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski), who convinces him to use his powers to kill evil people. It turns out that some of those people are ninjas. Also, Aurelio Voltaire is in it and I’m told that means something.

END SUMMARY

This…

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Mini-Review: Watchmen – Who Should Watch Watchmen?

HBO has given us a continuation of the famous 1986-87 comic series that changed the industry.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s been 34 years since a giant mutant squid appeared in the middle of New York City, killed off several million people, and convinced the Earth that aliens were invading, preventing nuclear war. Since then, superheroes have been outlawed and Robert Redford has been president. An incident involving an attempt by the racist “Seventh Kavalry” to kill all of the law enforcement officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma has led to the passage of laws which allow Law Enforcement Officers to operate as costumed figures to protect their secret identities. 

Image result for watchmen comic squid
They cut the mutant squid from the movie, sadly.

Angela Abar (Regina King), a survivor of the “White Night,” operates as a Tulsa detective under the name “Sister Night” along with her fellow survivor Judd Crawford (Don Johnson) and Det. Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson). After a police shooting by the Kavalry, Abar gets dragged into a series of events intertwining her fate with the characters who are still standing from the events of the original Watchmen: Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt, Laurie “Silk Spectre” Blake, and Jon “Doctor Manhattan” Osterman. 

END SUMMARY

Damon Lindelof, the creator of the show, has spent a decade being roundly (and justifiably) chastised for the fact that his previous creation, Lost, appeared to have no f*cking clue where the story was going. As if to compensate, this show clearly was thoroughly plotted before the first scene was shot. It’s almost as coherent in terms of themes and storytelling as its namesake comic, which is saying something. Without saying what it is, they have their own version of the clock motif from the comic and it pays off from the first episode to the last.

Image result for watchmen tv show
They put a lot of work into the character designs, too. 

Every performance is great, which makes it hard for me to really say who the standout is. I’m going to say it’s Regina King, mostly because she gets the most screen-time and is the focus of the story, but the fact that such an amazing actor isn’t head-and-shoulders above the supporting cast tells you how elevated the supporting cast is. Many of them have to play characters who operate almost entirely through masks that don’t allow for expression which is impressive. 

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I mean, sometimes they cheat, but it’s often for a reference.

In terms of storytelling, the show manages to both select and adapt some of the more memorable elements of the comic, including a completely linearly non-linear episode (it makes sense in context), which contains one of the best temporal mind-screws I’ve seen in quite a while. The show does a great job managing it’s fairly large cast and they accomplish a lot of worldbuilding through showing, not telling (which is something that I will literally always applaud). While the original Watchmen essentially satirized the existence of superheroes by pointing out that only damaged people would ever think superheroics are a good option, this show continues that by showing that people inspired by superheroes are also likely to view violence and secrecy more than normal people. The themes about the nature of racism are handled well, attacking it from all angles. 

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I admit that they are sometimes not super subtle, but it works.

The main thing that I appreciate about this is that it isn’t just Watchmen 2. The show isn’t focused just on the characters and what happened to them after the series, it’s about what would be changed in a world like the one that Watchmen is set in. It’s similar to what I appreciate about The Mandalorian: It’s showing me more about a world that I want to see more of, but it isn’t just trying to force a continuation of the previous story. Yes, it involves some of the same characters, but it doesn’t focus on them. 

I liked it and I hope the next season gets made.

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.

 

21) Godfellas (Futurama)

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UPDATE: Futurama is now getting a review of the complete series. Including, now, this very episode!

Futurama almost had three episodes on this list. Around ten were nominated in general, but three almost got on. This one, “Lethal Inspection” which brilliantly address mortality through a presumed immortal being, and “Prisoner of Benda,” because it actually generated a mathematical theorem within group theory that is now known as the “Futurama theorem.” Ultimately, though, this one was the only one that made the cut.

Zoidberg

Futurama is, for me, one of the ultimate hit-and-sort-of-miss shows. A few episodes are boring or ill-conceived or based on a one-joke premise that just can’t sustain 22 minutes. Most episodes are pretty good. But, once in a while, the show would earn another season or two by producing something amazing. This episode is one of the latter.

FuturamaCastThe show’s premise is that a delivery…

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22) Ozymandias (Breaking Bad)

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This episode was going to be on the list if I just used the marketing for the episode, featuring Walter White (Bryan “I should have been Lex Luthor” Cranston) reading the title poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Run down to the bookstore and pick up a copy of all of Shelley’s works if you can, he was pretty amazing. The poem was written as a friendly competition between Shelley and poet Horace Smith, each about Ozymandias and the statue of him that was to arrive in Britain. The poem describes finding an ornate statue in the desert, and on the pedestal, are the most well-known lines:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Those words, when read right, are dramatic, threatening, and glorious. Cranston does them perfectly, however, it’s the next three words that he truly nailed in the ad.

‘Nothing besides…

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Author Bonus: 22a) Holly Jolly Secrets/I Remember You (Adventure Time)

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Hey, guess what? YET ANOTHER ADD-ON. This makes 5, and this one’s actually a double. Aren’t you folks lucky that you’re getting so much more content that I’m pretty sure nobody reads? (Update: Okay, so, I do have readers now. And they’re all smart and attractive.). While one of these, “Holly Jolly Secrets,” did air before I wrote the original list, despite its merit, it didn’t become one of the best episodes ever until its emotional set-up was finally, truly, cashed in on by “I Remember You.” Since this is an add-on, I’m going to just go ahead and pair them. It’s my list, I do what I want.

Cartman.gif And I’m wearing this outfit

Adventure Time started as the single most generic fantasy show ever. It takes place in the enchanted land of Ooo, which is populated largely by princesses, magic creatures, and

cerebus_gold6 He was cuddly

whatever random thing…

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Author Bonus: 23a) Fish out of Water (BoJack Horseman)

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Okay, so, this is the fourth of the add-ons, and unless something amazing comes on before I finish the last 22 entries of this list, there will only be one more. Given that I write this before Season 2 of Stranger Things comes out, I might already be setting myself up for failure, but this is probably going to be it.

BojackHollywooBoJack Horseman, the show, is weird. It takes place in a world where humans regularly interact with anthropomorphic animals as if it’s just a natural part of existence. It also takes place in Hollywoo (the D gets stolen and then destroyed), a place that, regardless of which universe you’re in, is filled with so many fake identities and false personas that an animated talking horse isn’t that much different than some of the real people. Because of the setting being so distanced from reality, however, the show…

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