Dynasty Warriors: Perfectly Captures the Game – Netflix Review

Dynasty Warriors is a video game franchise that started as a fighting game series before becoming its better known over-the-top hack-and-slash version. The series typically involves picking a general or warrior from China’s Three Kingdoms Period and using them to kill waves of enemies with huge attacks. It’s actually pretty in line with the exaggerated personalities and attributes given to the same figures in the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but taken up a notch. This movie captures that perfectly.

So much color and such huge scale.

The film takes place at the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period, when the Eastern Han dynasty started to fall and multiple rebellions broke out. After the emperor died, the child emperor was deposed by the warlord Dong Zhuo (Lam Suet), who essentially claimed the throne. A group of generals join forces to try and take down Dong Zhuo. Four among these are those who have been chosen by the master of Sword Forge Castle (Carina Lau), those blessed with extraordinary powers and weapons: The loyal Han prince Liu Bei (Tony Yang), his friends Zhang Fei (Justin Cheung) and Guan Yu (Han Geng), and the ambitious Cao Cao (Wang Kai). They lead the forces to take back the Han dynasty from Dong Zhuo, only to find that Dong Zhuo has recruited the most powerful warrior in China, who is also blessed by the gods: Lu Bu (Louis Koo). 

If they don’t wear a helmet, assume they can kill you easily.

The key to this movie is that it does a great job of combining great action sequences with intense character scenes, just like the games. The characters essentially have superpowers, but they’re represented as still being mortals despite their ridiculous abilities. When I say ridiculous, I mean “summoning lightning and creating earthquakes” level. The acting is great, and the dub isn’t actually bad if you prefer that method, but I would stick with the subtitles and original dialogue. The visuals are particularly striking, always having a kind of surreal look that makes the sometimes-lackluster CGI more acceptable. The one downside to the film is that it goes through a decent chunk of the story at a fast pace so, unless you’re passingly familiar with the games or the source material, you might get lost. Not that it really matters, since you probably aren’t watching it for the plot points.

Not pictured: Reality.

Overall, solid video game adaptation. Look forward to more of them.

America: The Motion Picture: How We Pretend it Happened – Netflix Review

We see the version of America that we’ll probably teach as accurate in 30 years.

It’s hard to do a movie that’s really based around one main joke, as I recently pointed out with the film Cooties. This film’s main joke is that everything in it is not only inaccurate, but ridiculously so. The thing is, the film is doing this to point out that Americans so over-inflate our history that this movie’s not much less accurate than most of our portrayals of our founding. I mean, if you’re going to deify all of the Founders, then why not also give them superpowers and chainsaw blades?

Land of the Free, Home of the Whopper.

The plot of the movie is that Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg) successfully kills off the Second Continental Congress and steals the Declaration of Independence. He then assassinates Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), the best friend of George Washington (Channing Tatum), who inherits Lincoln’s dream of founding a new nation called America. Washington joins forces with noted beer inventor Sam Adams (Jason Mantzoukas), Chinese immigrant inventor Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), man raised by horses Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan), Native American renegade and tracker Geronimo (Raoul Trujillo), and notable blacksmith John Henry (Killer Mike) in order to stop Arnold and the plans of King James (Simon Pegg).

Assassinated in a theater. How ridiculous.

Originally I was told that this movie’s historical inaccuracy was actually based on final exam answers given by US high school seniors. Unfortunately, I’ve found nothing to back that up, so maybe American students aren’t that dumb. That said, some of the gags in this movie based on historical confusion are absolutely hilarious. Probably my favorite is when George Washington introduces himself to his future wife Martha (Judy Greer) and she asks him if he’s the inventor of peanut butter, which he confirms. The joke here isn’t just that she’s confusing him for George Washington Carver, it’s also that George Washington Carver didn’t invent peanut butter. A ton of the humor in this movie is that the thing that they make a joke about is itself based on a common misconception. I found that hilarious, but it did mean that some of the punchlines took more thought than you’d expect. 

t.Benedict Arnold is both a turncoat (literally) and a werewolf. Love it.

The rest of the movie is just a parody of every giant action movie trope, including the final climactic fight scene that involves every character and a ton of fast-cut visuals like the end of Avengers: Endgame. Much of the violence is over-the-top, but in a way that successfully cuts down the impact. My favorite is the running gag of a character’s throat getting ripped out and calling them “roadhoused.” 

Also nudity and dancing.

Overall, I’m not going to say this is a great movie, but I thought it was entertaining. 

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Godzilla: Singular Point: It’s Godzilla with Time Travel and Drugs – Netflix Review

We finally get another animated Godzilla series, but no Godzooky.

So, this isn’t the first Godzilla television show, but it is, surprisingly, the first non-educational Godzilla anime series. Yeah, until the 90s, the Hanna-Barbera adaptation was the only animated version of Godzilla. I find that crazy for a popular character that’s been around since 1954. Much like the three anime Godzilla films that Netflix debuted over the last few years, this show decided to go ahead and reinvent the Godzilla mythos, this time tying Godzilla and his fellow kaiju to extra-dimensionality and time travel. Honestly, after so many crazy twists and gimmicks over the decades, this seems almost par for the course.

Remember Minilla? I do.

The show is set in the near future in Japan. Two engineers working for the “do-it-all” Otaki Factory (aptly named as they appear to literally do anything they feel like), Yun Arikawa and Haberu Kato (Johnny Yong Bosch and Stephen Fu), are dispatched to an old building which has been having strange occurrences. At the same time, cryptozoology student Mei Kamino (Erika Harlacher), is investigating signals coming from an abandoned building. Both parties hear the same strange song, which leads to the awakening of creatures that start to attack Japan, including the pterosaur swarm called Rodan, the armored Anguirus, sea serpent Manda, and, of course, the mack daddy king of the monsters, Godzilla. The only thing that they have to fight back is an experimental robot built by the crazy head of the Otaki Factory called Jet Jaguar. It’s awesome. 

If this looks like it will be pitiful fighting Godzilla… you’re right.

The designs of the monsters in this series are all adapted from their traditional images, but they still are clearly recognizable. For example, Rodan, who is traditionally a nearly Godzilla-sized pterosaur, is reimagined as a flock of car-sized flying dinosaurs. Anguirus, at least in the dub, is acknowledged to be named after an ankylosaurus, with a line thrown in about the name coming from a kid who couldn’t pronounce the dinosaur. I think that was a shot at the 1990s Godzilla film, where the name “Godzilla” is a mispronunciation of Gojira. Godzilla is a bit more aquatic in this adaptation and his signature atomic breath is redesigned to be a sign of his drawing power from outside of this world.

Go Go Godzilla.

This show’s hook is that all of the kaiju are made up of extra-dimensional material, thus avoiding the question of how such creatures can move given the square-cube law. It also sets up that a lot of this series involves time-travel and an amount of technobabble that would make a Star Trek script blush. One of the devices in the series, the Orthogonal Diagonalizer, is both the stupidest name and also somehow the cleverest, because the idea is that it orthogonally shifts the dimensions of reality the way you would shift a matrix in linear algebra. The show makes a great use of time travel and expresses the nature of its interconnected timelines not only on the show but also through the naming of the episodes. If you were to lay the names of the first 12 episodes along the edges of a cube in 3 dimensions, they would have 8 intersections that share letters. Those letters form the name of the 13th episode, “Together.” The extra effort really is appreciated. 

Same with well-crafted main characters.

Overall, solid show.

The Ice Road: Liam Neeson Isn’t Saving His Daughter, So Never Mind – Netflix Review

This movie tries to be too much and it doesn’t really work out.

I appreciate that Liam Neeson is one of the people who managed to make himself seem more badass as a lead as he got older. Even taking into account his portrayals of Rob Roy, Darkman, and Qui-Gon Jinn, Neeson really upped his game with his portrayal of one-man wrecking crew Bryan Mills in Taken. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone in his mid-50s. Since then, Neeson has starred in a number of films as roughly the same badass loner character, with diminishing returns. Unfortunately, this movie tries to use that to sell what is ultimately a failed endeavor. It hurts even more than the film was two years behind Cold Pursuit, a much better movie which also featured Neeson murdering bad guys with a large vehicle in a snowy location.

If you’re wondering why an Irish guy has an American vet brother in Canada… I dunno.

Neeson stars as Mike McCann, an Irish ice road trucker who punches out another trucker for mocking his mechanic brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas). Gurty is a veteran who has PTSD and traumatic brain injury, both of which give him aphasia (the inability to use the right words for things). Despite the fact that Mike was, again, defending a disabled veteran from an asshole, he is fired. At the same time, an explosion at a mine in Manitoba requires an emergency delivery of wellheads in order to save the lives of more than a dozen miners. McCann is hired to make the extremely dangerous run, accompanied by Gurty, Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), a native Canadian driver whose brother is in the mine, employer Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne), and insurance agent Tom Varnay (Benjamin Walker). After making it through the first night, Goldenrod’s rig is sabotaged. It turns out that Varnay is actually not there to help them succeed, but to kill them and prevent the miners from being saved. Unfortunately, he’s trying to kill Liam Neeson, which is just never a good idea, even if you have help.

And even if you’re in the middle of a frozen hellscape.

Like I said, this movie just really isn’t great. It starts off suggesting it’s going to be a man vs nature film like The Grey but then reveals that Varnay and his crew are the enemy. For the record, it’s not really a twist if it’s in the first act of the movie. The majority of the film is Mike and the Mechanic (anyone get that reference?) trying to survive against Varnay and kill him and his goons. The reasoning behind the murders isn’t even particularly compelling or believable. It’s played out to be a giant cover-up, but, let’s be honest, a major drilling company can do almost anything without any real consequence. The only thing that might actually cause them trouble would be committing murder. It ends up coming off as kind of dumb. The action sequences aren’t bad, but they really feel forced and unimpressive compared to other driving movies. Honestly, there just doesn’t seem to have been a ton of effort here.

Needed more Fishburne too.

Overall, skip it and watch Cold Pursuit.

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Good on Paper: Too Good to be True Usually Is – Netflix Review

Iliza Shlesinger brings us the story of a man who is less than he seems.

You know those movies where the girl meets the guy who appears perfect, but ultimately ends up being a serial killer or something horrible like that? If not, they’re most of Lifetime’s lineup, so just watch something there and you’ll probably get the idea. Well, this is that movie except… the guy’s just kind of a douche. The movie uses clips of Shlesinger’s character doing stand-up throughout to relay stories that make it clear that not only is this a thing that happens, it’s been happening for generations. 

In film and out, she’s usually pretty blunt about creeps.

The story is about comedian and aspiring actress Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger), who is 34 and her career is stalling. Naturally, she’s also being shown up by the perky and younger, but nowhere near as funny, Serrena (Rebecca Rittenhouse). Andrea’s closest friend, Margot (Margaret Cho), is a big believer in tough love and brutal honesty, both of which tend to keep Andrea’s hopes in the gutter. On a flight back from an audition, Andrea meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a Yale-educated hedge fund manager who is buying a house in Beverly Hills and dating a supermodel. The two hit it off and become friends. Dennis seems naturally very nice, well-educated, funny, and he’s frequently willing to help Andrea with her career. Eventually, he breaks up with his girlfriend and asks Andrea out. She ends up agreeing to go out with him, even though he’s not traditionally her type, because he seems like the perfect guy on paper.

Yes, he looks like a hedge fund manager.

However, after a bit, cracks start to appear in his story, ranging from his “house in Beverly Hills” being an apartment with two hilarious roommates, Maggie and Chanterelle (Kimia Behpoornia and Taylor Hill), to his supposedly excellent Collegiate golfing skills being apparently completely lacking. Unfortunately, despite Margot and literally everyone telling her not to, Andrea just keeps giving the guy the benefit of the doubt and believing all of his cover-ups, eventually to her own detriment. Throughout the entire thing Andrea continues to give an audience hints about how badly this may end up in the future, but even they probably can’t predict the ending of the story.

At least the sex was… existent.

I tend to think that Iliza Shlesinger is funny and, given that she not only wrote this film, but based it on an actual relationship she had, a lot of the film’s situations and humor come off more naturally than you would expect in something with this kind of premise. Unfortunately, when the situation starts to escalate at the end beyond where it apparently did in real life, it starts to unravel. It’s not just that it’s full of obvious holes, it’s that it just isn’t that funny or cathartic. It’s supposed to provide a grand platform to resolve the whole thing dramatically, but, unfortunately, it really just didn’t work. 

Some funny scenes, to be sure.

Overall, it’s not a bad movie, it just falls apart at points. 

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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Lupin (Part 2): Less Episodic, More Intense – Netflix Review

The great thief Assane is back and ready to settle an old score.

If you have not checked out Lupin before, you are missing out. It’s one of the better heist series out there and it makes a lot of bold choices that, frankly, I would not have expected. To recap a bit, Assane Diop (Omar Sy) is a professional thief who was essentially put on this path when, as a child, his father Babakar (Fargass Assandé) was framed for a crime by billionaire tycoon Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre) and Pellegrini’s wife Anne (Nicole Garcia). Assane managed to get back at the wealthy family by stealing a valuable necklace as well as kidnapping the corrupt police commissioner Dumont (Vincent Garanger) and forcing a confession from him. Unfortunately, Pellegrini’s daughter, Juliette (Clotilde Hesme), who used to have feelings for Assane, doesn’t believe her father was guilty and tells them Assane’s identity. Shortly after, at a festival celebrating the literary thief that inspires Assane, Arsene Lupin, Assane’s son, Raoul (Etan Simon) is abducted. Now aware that his identity is not a secret, Assane has to save his son, avoid Detective Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab) who also knows his secret, and find a way to trap Pellegrini.

And hopefully look good doing it.

While the first part of this show was more episodic and revolved around a single scheme or heist, this part is a lot more serialized. It begins moments after the last one ended and the first episode, naturally, is focused on Assane saving his son by matching wits with a mercenary. This really just starts a pattern of each episode feeding directly into the next, usually on a cliffhanger. Since it’s a streaming show and only five episodes, there isn’t likely to be a large amount of suspense, but it still makes for a very intense binge. The stakes, at this point, are as high as they can make them, as either Pellegrini’s minions or the police catching up to Assane will likely result in his death. After all, they had his father killed in prison. 

Gotta keep that boy safe.

This perpetual heightening of the tension doesn’t detract from the central conceit of the series, showing Assane as a modern day Lupin. In fact, the show constantly reveals that Assane’s criminal mastermind skills extend to multiple fields of escapology and a level of preparedness that would seem impossible… until you realize that, like almost everything he does, he has taken these traits from Arsene Lupin, a fictional character. It’s extremely satisfying to see the getaways, almost as much as it was to see him pull the heists.

They’ve been researching stuff since they were kids.

I was surprised that this season also increased the social commentary of the show. While the first season largely ignored any impact that Assane being a black man in France might have on how he is treated by the police and society at large, this season plays into it at a number of points. The only scene I recall from the former is when a rich white woman locks the door when a black man offers to help her in her car, but that seemed comparatively small. Having not lived in France, I wasn’t sure how racial differences are handled there, but apparently they have at least some notable issues similar to the United States, although it seems like it’s on a much smaller scale. 

Overall, still a great show, keep it 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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The Devil Below: What if The Descent was Bad? – Drunk Netflix Review

Somehow this was on the top ten movies this week on Netflix, which is just making me angry at this point.

Did you ever watch the movie The Descent, a film about a group of women who go cave diving and encounter humanoid monsters dwelling in the caverns? The movie worked well because it drove home that the claustrophobic conditions of the environment were just as terrifying as the mutated albino monsters. Well, this movie is that, but with some level of traumatic brain damage. 

And replace the claustrophobia with huge open caverns.

The movie starts off at an Appalachian mine in the 1970s and features a man named Schuttmann played by the massively underappreciated Will Patton losing his son to a monster of some kind. Now in the modern day, we have a group of people whose names are irrelevant driving through the same area trying to find a town called Shookum Hills, which, naturally, used to be a mining town before it “mysteriously vanished.” The supposedly Bad Ass Girl, or “BAG” (Alicia Sanz), is the mercenary hired as the guide for the expedition, which, again, is just into the middle of West Virginia, not Iran. Her main employer is Scientist Douche (Adan Canto) whose big twist will be that he’s doing exactly what you think he’s doing the whole time. They’re joined by Conspiracy Guy (Chinaza Uche) and Gonna Die (William Mark McCullough). You’d think that the film would be merciful enough to introduce these characters quickly and get on with it, but no, we have a while where we’re just watching each of them talk so that we can really be sure that all of these people suck except BAG, who has a past she’s trying to atone for.

Ah, the heroic “standing around a hole” part of the film.

Eventually they meet some people who are obviously trying to hide Shookum Hills, to the point that BAG uses their scheme to drive them away in order to actually locate it. The area is surrounded by a massive electrical fence despite the fact that no one lives there or mines there, but the group goes in anyway, somehow not taking this as a screaming warning to bail. They get there and discover a giant hole in the ground. They open it and take some measurements, only for Gonna Die to get pulled in and be dragged off. The locals show up to reveal that the whole area is secretly patrolled and monitored because the hole leads to an underground area where humanoid monsters live. There are apparently a lot of them and they keep trying to come up, but apparently can only use holes that humans dig. The movie glosses over this by referencing a suspected similar group of creatures in the Russian Kola borehole, which is 7 miles underground as opposed to like 300 feet. It’s a dumb reference is what I’m saying.  Naturally, the whole town works to keep people away from the creatures and kill them, rather than tell the government about it or the public at large.

It’s weird that we don’t realize that guy is being pulled away by monsters.

I wish I could at least say that the creature designs were good, but the movie blurs heavily whenever they’re onscreen, presumably because of their “toxin.” Realistically, I think it’s because they didn’t quite meet expectations. If you’re doing a monster movie and you don’t have a working monster, that puts a lot more pressure on your acting and filmmaking. Unfortunately, both are lacking in this film, driving home even more how much this was not a good experience. The motivations of the characters are all pretty dumb, as are their actions. They are annoying when they’re onscreen and their deaths aren’t even enjoyably creative. The only bright spot is Will Patton, and that is a small spot.

Sir, you are too good for this.

Overall, I hated this movie and I cannot believe it’s doing so well.

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Feel Good: A Near-Perfect Dark Comedy – Netflix Review

Mae Martin writes and stars in this comedy exploring how messed up life can be.

I love a good dark comedy and I especially love a comedy that’s aimed at trying to explore real-life issues. This show is the middle of that Venn diagram. Mae Martin, who you may have seen in their Netflix stand-up special, plays Mae, a character who is blatantly based on them. Mae is an English-Canadian comedian who is living in England and meets a young English woman named George (Charlotte Ritchie). The two quickly hit it off and begin dating. Eventually, they move in together, only for each to discover that the other one is hiding something. Mae has not admitted to George that they are a recovering drug addict while George did not tell Mae that she is still in the closet out of fear of her proper English family.

There are cute moments.

A lot of the series’ humor is derived from the fact that these two are both broken individuals, albeit in very different ways. George can’t be open about her bisexuality, to the point that she is constantly lying to her parents and friends about having a boyfriend. She can’t ever be her real self around anyone but Mae. Meanwhile, Mae is still a recovering addict who is not only ashamed of that fact but often bordering on being in denial. Their parents, Linda and Malcolm (Lisa Kudrow and Adrian Lukis), are a bit distant with her but also try to be supportive. They previously kicked her out when they were younger, leading them to live with an older man for a while, something that haunts Mae. Mae’s attempts to go through the steps of recovery often seem insincere because they sometimes seem unconvinced that recovery is real. 

A pet funeral.

Watching the pair grow both together and separately through the series is interesting. Mae and George are an adorable couple, but they also are bad for each other as often as they are good. Both of them are often selfish and their attempts to “help” the other one are really just thinly veiled excuses to further their own ends. The show isn’t just a story about how these two get to their happy ending, in fact it’s possible it won’t end that way, but it does manage to balance some of the nihilist and cynical moments of its characters with moments of emotional growth or warm honesty. 

Watching Mae deal with PTSD is tough at times.

Overall, really a great show. I 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.

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Wish Dragon: A Cute Retelling of Aladdin – Netflix Review

A pure-hearted man is given the chance to change his life.

I find it appropriate that this is a Chinese-centric version of the story of Aladdin, along with some elements from the famous Disney animated film, because in the original story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin was actually Chinese. It just happened to be a version of China which seemed to be completely identical to Arabia, including having a Sultan running the area. While apparently the creators of this film denied that they were directly inspired by that story or any of its adaptations, I refuse to believe it’s a coincidence that the main character is named “Din.” (Jimmy Wong).

Great use of imagery in this film.

The main character, Din, is a working class Chinese student who is clearly very intelligent (he does people’s homework for them and aces all of his exams without going to class). He works extra jobs trying to save up money so that he can finally reconnect with his childhood friend Li Na (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). The two grew up together, but Li Na’s father, Mr. Wang (Will Yun Lee), managed to start a business and moved with his daughter to a nicer neighborhood and, eventually, a nicer life. Din’s fortunes change when he is given a tea pot by what appears to be a crazy homeless guy (Ronny Chieng). The pot contains Long (John Cho), the wisecracking and cynical dragon who is bound by magical law to give Din three wishes. Unfortunately, it turns out that other parties are very interested in the teapot, namely the martial arts master Pockets (Aaron Yoo) and his two goons (Bobby Lee; Jimmy O. Yang).  Apparently in Mandarin, Niu Junfeng and Jackie Chan voice Din and Long, respectively. 

Pockets is the one with his hands in his… pants.

This movie isn’t exactly going to be a new experience for most viewers, unless they’re really young, but it has enough solid scenes to make things interesting. Hell, at one point, Long literally grants Din the wish of “turn me into a prince,” just to drive it home (although, amusingly, that turns out not to be what Din wanted). Din is a bit too naive, something that even the other characters call him out for, and he is genuinely not very creative in his use of the lamp. It’s not that I don’t like the “pure of heart” lead, but when Long keeps pointing out that money will solve most of his problems, Din doesn’t seem to even consider it, even though money WOULD probably make it easier to see Li Na… or maybe at least help his mom (Constance Wu) out, since their neighborhood is being demolished. 

Yes, Din tricks Long at one point into giving him a free wish involving traffic.

The best parts of the movie, though, are actually the scenes of Din and Li Na together, because they seem to have genuine chemistry. Aside from that, many of the scenes with Long are pretty entertaining, owing in no small part to John Cho’s ability to come off as a somewhat likable a-hole. 

Genuine sincerity is still a thing that hits you hard when it comes from a cynic.

Overall, not a bad movie for kids. I recommend it for family movie night.

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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Trese: A Solid Supernatural Detective Show from the Philippines – Netflix Review

What if you were the chosen one but also just sick of all this bullsh*t?

If there is one massive positive that Netflix has had on media, it’s that they’ve given a lot of creative people from countries that don’t usually get international distribution a platform (also South Korea, which is starting to get a lot more distribution, thankfully). This show combines the mythology and social setting of the Philippines with the Anime-inspired look that Netflix has been going for with many of its original series. It’s nice to start exploring other mythologies rather than just importing them into a Western setting or trying to rehash European vampires for the 3000th time. 

Some of the visuals are pretty universal, though.

At a glance, the show has some elements of supernatural detective series like a blend of Constantine and Supernatural, with a touch of the Dresden Files books. Alexandra Trese (Shay Mitchell/Liza Soberano) is the last survivor of a line of “Trese,” which are people who guard the balance between the supernatural world and the human one. There are laws about what can and can’t be done to humans, but, naturally, a lot of the evil spirits would prefer to just ignore those and declare war. She’s got enough magical ability for it to be useful, but not enough that guns aren’t usually a quicker solution. Her assistants and bodyguards are the Kambal (Twins), Crispin and Basilio (Griffin Puatu/Simon de la Cruz). They both often wear creepy happy and sad face masks, which makes it even funnier that they’re the good guys. Trese is an official consultant for the police, as the existence of magic seems to be more of an “open secret” in the area. Her main contact is captain Guerrero (Matt Yang King/Apollo Abraham), who is smart enough to usually bring an RPG and a shotgun when dealing with the supernatural, as opposed to the usual police consultant who tries to play by the rules in shows like this.

Again, the twins are the good guys.

The characters are pretty well written and designed in this show, particularly Trese herself (the badass longcoat she wears is a blend of Eastern and Western styles and seems reasonably functional). The monsters are really well done, often being cartoonish when non-threatening and then disturbing when they decide to turn it on. An exception are the spiders with baby heads, which are creepy no matter what they’re doing. Between this and 30 Monedas I’m beginning to think that a lot of countries have latched onto “baby with a spider body” as the go-to creepiest thing out there and I’m not sure they’re wrong. 

Also more “splitting people vertically.”

The mythology the show explores is interesting, particularly when you start to get a feel for how the Philippines treats their myths. There is no central “Phillipines Mythology,” by which I mean there are a lot of smaller groups that each hold their own beliefs and they often are directly conflicting. This is part of why the evil spirits in the show, often just called the Aswang, are shapeshifters that can serve as either vampires, zombies, ghouls, or whatever other part the plot requires. Since each ethnic group viewed them a little differently, they can be almost anything that exists to hurt others. There are, naturally, also demigods and more powerful beings that can pose threats as well, and they’re usually more tied to one particular group than to the country as a whole.

Yeah, this… this is a thing.

Overall, solid show. Give it a shot if you like supernatural detective series.

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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