The Irregulars: Sherlock in Name Only, but Still Okay – Netflix Review

A show about a group of supernatural investigators working for a famous detective.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Bea (Thaddea Graham) and Jessie (Darci Shaw) are sisters who make their living on the streets of London along with their fellow poor youths Billy (Jojo Macari) and Spike (McKell David). The four get hired by a doctor named John Watson (Royce Pierreson) to investigate a series of child kidnappings. Along the way, they are joined by Leopold (Harrison Osterfield), who introduces himself as a fellow working-class person despite his wealth and nobility, and aided by the Linen Man (Clarke Peters), an American mystic who contacts Jessie. Together, the group investigates into the strange and paranormal occurrences that surround Baker Street. At the same time, they are asked to help track down a missing person, the elusive detective and drug addict Sherlock Holmes (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). 

Guess which one is wealthy?

END SUMMARY

So, I will start off by saying that I am a major Sherlock Holmes fan, something I’ve probably brought up multiple times on this blog. Literally the only tattoo I have, and the only one I ever plan on getting, is a profile of the detective. Admittedly, this makes me a little biased when I say the following: This is not a Sherlock Holmes show. It’s not just the supernatural elements, because I have seen some solid Sherlock adaptations that involved mysticism. I’ve even seen some decent mostly out-of-character versions of Holmes and Watson (though not the terrible film Holmes and Watson), but this was not that. The characters bear almost no resemblance to their literary counterparts. This is not the story of the irregulars which Holmes regularly employed in the books, either. That’s not to say the show wasn’t bad, but if you’re a major fan of Sherlock Holmes, it’ll take you a bit to adjust. They’re not the central figures in the show, but they have a lot of impact and more screen time than I might have thought at first. 

Admittedly, not the traditional image of Holmes and Watson, but that could have been interesting.

The actual characters that the show focuses on, though, are pretty well-crafted. Bea is the leader and the one who tends to actually put many of the clues together. Leopold tends to have the education and the background knowledge to identify some of the more obscure elements. Jessie is the one who is actually a bit supernatural, but is constantly judged as being weak or fragile by Bea. Billy and Spike kind of vary a bit as the show goes on, from comic relief to muscle to tragic figures. It’s not that they don’t make an impact, but they are much less developed than the other three. 

Sets are typical for the time period.

That’s actually the biggest flaw with the show, is that it sometimes feels like it’s focusing too much on the mystery of the week and frequently doesn’t add much to the characters in the process. Despite a number of solid scenes with Billy and Spike, I don’t think we ever really got a good look at their characters. We find out their fears at a few points, mostly because the show has a supernatural horror edge, but even those seem kind of generic. That’s not to say the series isn’t enjoyable. It definitely is. The supernatural elements are entertaining and usually creative, the villains are sufficiently villainous, and all of the performances are solid. Once I got past the lack of real Sherlock elements, I found myself having an okay.

There are some good makeup effects.

Overall, if you like supernatural period shows, you’ll probably like this. 

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Netflix Review – Da 5 Bloods: Spike Lee’s Apocalypse Now

Four former soldiers return to Vietnam.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

During the Vietnam War, five black men serve together in the US Army: Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), and their squad leader ‘Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman). Dubbing themselves the “Bloods,” the five secure the site of a CIA airplane crash, finding that it’s full of gold bars. Thinking about the state of black people in America, they decide to bury the gold and retrieve it later for their own gain. Unfortunately, a bombing kills Norman and destroys the area, preventing them from finding the gold before they go back to the USA. 

Spike Lee playing the fifth blood in this shot.

Decades later, the four survivors reunite in Vietnam in order to track down the gold after a landslide uncovers part of the plane. They are tailed by Paul’s estranged son David (Jonathan Majors), who joins the group along with their guide Vinh (Johnny Trí Nguyễn). Otis also discovers that his Vietnamese flame Tiên (Lê Y Lan)  was pregnant when he left, leading him to meet his daughter Michon (Sandy Hương Phạm) for the first time. Tiên also puts Otis in contact with Desroche (Jean Reno), a French businessman who agrees to buy the gold from them. David meets Hedy (Mélanie Thierry), a French woman who runs a landmine removal group, and her two assistants Simon and Seppo (Paul Walter Hauser and Jasper Pääkkönen). As the group makes their way into the jungle, tensions start to run high, and money never tends to make that better. 

END SUMMARY

I call this Spike Lee’s Apocalypse Now not so much because there are a lot of similarities with that film, but because this film is really long and set in Vietnam and I’m sure will be given awards and critical acclaim out the wazoo. This isn’t to say this film isn’t worthy of praise, it is an absolutely amazing film, but by Spike Lee standards, this is not his best work. I think the biggest indicator of that is how much the phrase “most ambitious work” is being used to promote it, rather than best. The film is definitely ambitious, but that doesn’t mean it is flawless. It does a good job telling the story and it does a good job trying to do social commentary, unfortunately it doesn’t do a great job of doing them together. Instead, it feels like the story is periodically interrupted for a clip of Hanoi Hannah (Veronica Ngo) telling US soldiers, particularly the African-Americans, about how abusive the US is to its own citizens, or some other short segue about race in America. 

A lot more digital watches than Apocalypse Now, though.

It’s pretty easy to see why this is when you take a look at the film’s history. This movie was originally written for Oliver Stone to direct, I guess as a fourth entry in his Vietnam series, this one taking place long after the war was over. However, after Blackkklansman was released, the film was given to Spike Lee, who rewrote it to be about African-American soldiers during Vietnam. So, the initial bones likely didn’t have any of the civil rights messages that the final product had, which might be why they feel a little more tacked-on than scripts that Lee started himself. That doesn’t make the messages any less valid, and maybe the fact that they kind of interrupt the film makes them more impactful, but I admit that once you’re 60 minutes into a 150 minute movie, you don’t really want a cut-away. It may just be that I have a gap in my movie knowledge, but I think this might be the first Vietnam War film which is focused entirely on black soldiers. Given that over 7,000 black soldiers died in Vietnam, over 10% of the casualties, that absence is more than notable.

The movie is a nice blend of genres, too. Aside from the war movie elements, the film also includes a decent amount of comedy between the leads (to be expected from Lee and Kevin Willmott, writer of C.S.A. and co-writer of Blackkklansman) and a heavy dose of heist movie staples as the plot moves forward. As with many heist films, getting to the prize is only the first half, getting away with it is the real challenge. The movie pays homage to a number of other films, mostly classic war movies, in ways ranging from soundtrack to cinematography, but it also decides to subvert the tropes of those films by being less dramatic and more just plain brutal with its violence. 

Not that there isn’t plenty of drama in the film.

The performances are all amazing in this film, but I will have to say that Delroy Lindo seems to do a lot of the heavy lifting. He plays a black conservative, which already puts him at odds with his fellow Bloods, who has PTSD and a son that he barely talks to. The range of his character traits allows him to have emotional scenes that the others just don’t get. I will also say that, while his role is limited, Chadwick Boseman’s performance as Norman is unbelievably memorable. The cinematography highlights the beauty of Vietnam, but also shows us how devastating the war was to its people and geography. 

There are some touching moments, too.

Overall, this is a really well-done film. I may not put it up at the top of either Vietnam films or Spike Lee films, but it is definitely one of the best movies that has come out this year.

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.