Independence Day: Resurgence

Ah, this movie brings back memories. Not complete ones. I was young when the first Independence Day came out, but I went to see it, and that movie was so great to me. So I was pretty excited for a sequel. There are many things I concentually like about this film. For one, it takes place in real time. The sequel came out 20 years later, and in their version of the world, 20 years had passed. And society developed entirely differently thanks to the arrival of aliens. I got to see enough of the world, and it looked pretty great until the aliens attacked again.

I still had a lot of fun in the film, though it was overstuffed. The characters weren’t that fun or interesting. Really, there was just a lack of meaningful character interaction all around. And there are a lot of characters around just to be love interests. Aside from repelling the alien invasion, that was the main story arc for about half of the characters.

The movie has a lot of great action scenes in space, in strange locations, and on earth. Thanks to modern cinema special effects, the aliens are now a lot more comfortable taking on humans on foot. I say it works well. The first film, they were mysterious. Now, humans have studied them for twenty years, so the time for mysterious is over. It’s time for aliens to bring in the big guns, hard. And that they do. Their new mothership is really impressive in scale.

Overall, there was a lot of character and plots they could have cut from the movie. But on an individual level, I don’t know which ones they should cut. I was entertained by most of the side plots. They might not be necessary, but I wasn’t bored following them. Perhaps I would remove the pyschologist (David’s new love interest).

One side plot I really liked was Julius (David’s father). He had the least to do with anything, but his part showed off more of what normal people was going through while the invasion was happening. It wasn’t dark, either, but a rather different take on everything to the story.

What I really like about the film is seeing the kids of the first movie now all grown up and taking the charge in the fight. Despite both of them being played by different actors, it was still nice to see.

But the film overall is just an excuse for a lot of space battles and explosions. The characters aren’t compelling enough, and there are too many of them. And the big epic speech wasn’t as great as what we got in the first film. Or the speech from Pacific Rim. Or Lord of the Rings. And that’s a shame.

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Short Show Reviews

Here we go! A rapid-fire of shows I’ve watched. Some of the seasons aren’t done. Most are. But I feel like I have a good sense of how I like them. Some of these are things I’ve done previously, and my opinion hasn’t changed much on them. So this is a rapid fire round.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The best show based on a comic book on TV! This season is great, and with a reduced budget, too. They make it work with great twists and great character interactions.

Gotham: The second-best show based on a comic book on TV! This show gets a little spread out with all of the characters and side-plots, but the villains are always fantastic. Gordon is becoming quite jaded, yet he’s still the hero. And Bruce is developing along his path nicely.

Scorpion: I consider this a comedy show, and I liked the ridiculousness. Kinda bummed it’s not getting another season, but I can understand it. The show is pretty silly.

Deception: I liked the concept behind this buddy cop show. It was cool. Sad it only got one season.

iZombie: The show seems to be making the case of the week less important, and I think it weakens the show a bit. There is an interesting main plot going along with no clear antagonist and no real good decisions on how to deal with all the new zombies. Liv is still fun to see, though her original personality seems few and far in between now.

Supergirl: I’m liking the season. The World Killers are a strong enemy, and I think they’re working well, even with almost an entire season around them. Nothing really stands out about the show, but it is still enjoyable. This season has more reasonable relationship stuff, I think.

Timeless: More time travel shenanigans. I like them upgrading the ship to seat four people. It gives the rest of the cast a chance to do more rather than show up in the front and end of the episode. Everyone gets some time-travel fun! The mixups makes the missions more interesting.

Blindspot: Hmm. I’m not sure what it is about the show, but I really like it. All new tattooes this time around. There seems to be more relationship drama, though. I do like Rich dot com being a recurring character. He’s great.

The NCIS’s: I mean, what can I say about them? They’re here doing their thing.

Being the series finale, I’ll give Once Upon a Time it’s own post soon. Some other shows are more in the middle of the season, so I’ll do them later.

Black Lightning

The newest superhero show on the CW, though I hear it wasn’t originally developed for the CW. That explains the different feel it has from the rest of the shows. Black Lightning feels more mature, in a sense. It still has humor and comic-book elements, but just the way people behave, they’re less melodramatic. There are conflicts between characters, but it doesn’t come off as characters being dumb or contrived. There’s meaningful interaction whenever characters disagree.

That makes this show feel different and done well. The show centers around Jefferson Pierce, retired superhero known as Black Lightning that’s forced to come back once the area he lives in starts getting riddled with more and more crime. He is helped by Gambi, the tech guy and the operator. Gambi is the one that provides the suit and intel. His nemesis, Tobias Whale, the man that killed his father.

Hmm, some there will be some spoilers throughout. There’s just things I want to say about information that’s revealed during the course of the show. But if you want a superhero show with a solid storyline and less meaningless drama, Black Lightning will be for you. And it also tackles issues faced by black people pretty well and from multiple sides.

Anyway, Black Lightning’s family is a huge part of the show because his wife know’s he’s Black Lightning and doesn’t approve, but she never feels like one of those people that drags Black Lightning down. Rather, the two of them are still great together. The show restarts their relationship as they try to handle two daughters, one teen, one adult, and navigate Jefferson being back as a superhero.

The daughters are both great characters. They’re not annoying and both contribute to the plot in different ways. The family is an important part to the show, and they lift Black Lightning up higher than he would be if he was alone.

The action on this show is alright. Jefferson has more than just blasting people with lightning bolts. His hand-to-hand stuff is really cool. He adds a shock to each punch making the scenes feel powerful and flashy.

I actually thought the plot took quite a bit from the Netflix series Daredevil, both in style and a few of the points. Of course, there’s enough differences, but I could see the inspirations.

Black Lightning has a different tone from the rest of the CW shows. The drama is kept focused on the problem. The side plots usually are related in some way to the main plot, too. The characters feel more mature and smart. They talk things out, and even when they’re upset with each other, they still try to work through it without dragging everything else down.

The antagonists in the show are great, too. Tobias Whale is threatening, and he has some cool henchpeople. There’s also a shadowy government organization going around. They both have different feels, but both are good additions. They intersect without crowding each other. The pacing of the show is pretty good, overall.

Looking forwards to some more Black Lightning.

Coco

Now, of course there will be multiple movies on similar subjects, but I still can’t help but compare this movie to The Book of Life, another animated film about the Day of the Dead. The Book of Life was great, and I think it made Coco less wondrous for it. Oh well. Coco is still really good.

This movie is about family, following dreams and all that. I would say the story isn’t all that surprising. But it’s told in a great backdrop of the Day of the Dead. Things are colorful, imaginative and fantastic all around. The regular world is alright. It’s normal.

The story is about Miguel, a young boy that wants to become a musician. Unfortunately, his family hates music because their great, great grandfather ran away to become a musician and never returned, forcing the great, great grandmother to handle the family all on her own. Oh, Coco? Coco is the name of his great grandmother. There is a good reason why her name is in the title, though.

Since he goes to the land of the dead, of course we’ll be seeing Miguel’s ancestors. He gets drawn into the land of the dead, a wonderfully realized place that is full of life and fun. The characters there are fantastic. I had fun watching everyone Miguel meets, especially his great, great grandmother and great, great grandfather.

The plot is pretty normal, though. Nothing really surprising going on there, which I think is unfortunate. I’ll go a bit more into it in the spoiler area. But Coco is a fine movie with a more normal plot. It is brought to life by some great characters and a great world.

Now for spoilers! Do not read beyond here.

So, the guy that you think is Miguel’s great great grandfather turns to to be a murderer! I wanted him to really be Miguel’s great great grandfather. But no, the movie takes the normal way out by having the lovable rascal that’s been helping Miguel through the land of the dead be his real great, great grandfather all along. I wanted to see what would have happened if his great, great grandfather had been a despicable guy.

But it is a movie that’s well worth seeing. It has music, heart and fun abound.

Avengers: Infinity War

Wowee. The final battle for the Infinity Stones begins. Thanos is now on the warpath, and he wants all sixe of them. I will try not to have too much spoiler information here. From the outset, Thanas is set up to be a huge threat. The main focus of the film is on him. We already know and love the heroes, now it is time to get to know the one that has been causing the bad events for much of the previous films.

Thanos has his group of super-powerful minions, each one considered a match for an Avenger. But the movie makes it clear that Thanos doesn’t really need them. He has them do some legwork, but he can handle everything by himself. After waiting so long, Thanos does not disappoint on strength, backstory, impact and presence. There’s no messing around with him.

Almost all of the heroes are around, from the space side to the Earth side. They’re divided into two teams for easier handling, with a smaller side team of Thor and a couple of others. It makes the large group feel manageable. With as many characters as is in the film, it doesn’t feel too crowded, and everyone gets a chance to shine. The movie knows who should play off one another for great effect. There are some interactions that I want to see, but what they showed was fun for all.

The pacing is done well, and there’s not much need to introduce anyone. They just hope you’ll remember everything that happened previously. I do, so it’s fine. Some people might not, though.

This movie takes a huge dark turn in tone. There is still humor, but it becomes apparent that its the characters trying to cope with all that’s going on. The heroes struggle and get beat down. How will they stand up again?

Infinity Wars is a such an awesome ride with great action scenes. The fights Thanos participates in are spectacular. There are some grand action scenes with his minions and the forces of Earth, too. They have several emotional scenes, not just between the heroes, but with Thanos as well.

I’m not going to have any spoiler thoughts. Infinity Wars is the start of what was set up all the way back in Captain America: The First Avenger. For fans of superhero movies, it has all the action and heroes you can handle. But it knows how to throw in the slower scenes that build up everything.

On to the next Avengers movie. I can’t wait.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2

Big shocker here. I read the books this time! After watching season 1, I sought out the book series and read them. So now, I actually have a point of comparison. Would that make the Netflix series better or worse? Hmm, tough to tell. I really enjoyed the series, though.

For comparison purposes, some events have changed. A lot of background stuff that happens is never shown in the book. That isn’t to say it hasn’t happened in the books, just that the main kids don’t know about it. The series does feel funnier, too. The books have a gloomy absurd quality with bouts of humor. The series as humorous absurdity with some gloom. Though the gloom ramps up the more it goes.

Once again, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Boudelaire are shuffled around from place to place while they try to avoid Count Olaf and try to discover the secrets of VFD. They go through several places, 5 to be exact as this season covers books 5 through 9.

I am really enjoying the added events happening around the Boudelaires, though it does make the adults seem even more incompetent. Somehow, people are actively trying to stop Count Olaf this time but still, nothing is getting done. This time, Count Olaf gets a girlfriend, and Esme Squalor is fantastic in this. She has all the dramatics down while still being really threatening. Even more than Olaf at  times.

The tone of the series is funnier, but it works well. They have meta humor, dry humor, vocabulary humor, sight gags and more. It was present in the books, too, but it seeing it makes it more impactful.

The pacing feels off, though. Some things just happen too fast that. There are mysteries and problems to be solved, but solving them feels too easy. The viewer doesn’t get much to a chance to think about it at all. The Boudelaires also just seem to figure things out pretty fast. It could be slowed down for a more thoughtful atmosphere.

Nathan Fillion was great in this. He’s slick, charming and all that while still not managing to do much. It is really engaging. The minor character I enjoyed most was Larry. He’s also in the first season, but he’s been expanded here. Most of the cast does really well, pretty much takes the ridiculousness of the books and cranks it up a few notches.

Not going to say too much, but that early scene in the last episode was fantastic. It shed a few lights on everything and brought everything together for a bit.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, a funny series about a group of kids suffering a lot. Oh yeah.