Case-347 (2020)

Rating: 5/10

Mia is a psychologist trying to disprove alien conspiracies by interviewing the people closest to it. In the process she may be in the midst of something alien herself.

Horror is an interesting genre to me. It’s somehow both my favorite and least favorite genre in all of cinema. This is because when something is good, it’s legitimately scary, combined with excellent presentation, and often asks bigger questions than a horror film has any right to do so. But, when it’s bad, it’s usually just some rehashed knock-off of something that actually did scare people, and if you rip-off the same movies several times, this eventually becomes a sub-genre. I mean, you could probably say this of any sub-category of film, but with horror, well, you’ve seen one Slasher, you’ve seen them all. And the same could be said of these so-called “found footage” films. You’ve seen one and you’ve essentially seen them all.

When I saw the trailer for this film, I was really hoping for something more than just another movie in this particular genre. I didn’t find that, in fact I would probably say this was less than others just because of how often what’s supposed to be scary is merely described to us in long-winded exposition scenes. I mean, “show, don’t tell” is an old screenwriting adage and I think it’s more true in horror films than any other genre. I mean, don’t show the monster right away, of course. But what’s scarier? The scene in Alien where we see through the alien’s eyes as it stalks its prey, or the scene after that where the hunted prey describes how he thought he was being watched. I mean, both are scary in their own way, but the second scene is greatly lessened without the first. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to do things like that in the context of this film, but you have to do something to keep it interesting before the big scare at the end.

Oh, that reminds me, for the frights that are there, which are actually pretty good, they’re diminished because of how everyone reacts to it. Anytime there’s a jump scare someone is always saying, immediately after, just how scared they are or how scary it was. If this happened even a few seconds later instead of immediately it would be more believable and give me a chance to react to it before the characters start talking about how scary it was.

As an example, one near the end that made me laugh out loud by how ridiculous the people react, there’s a person on top of the stairs who shouldn’t be there, the cameraman pulls back and he starts shouting “Oh my God! Did you see that?” But he hadn’t checked if the person was even still there yet, nor could he have known that the other people hadn’t seen what he just saw as quickly as he presumes they hadn’t. It was so sudden and the reaction is immediate. If this were happening in real life I would probably assume the cameraman was in on some kind of practical joke just by how out of place his reaction is to this stimulus. Scaring someone is about pacing, as much as anything else. This movies seems to be operating under the Monkey-See-Monkey-Do principal of scaring someone, but it keeps me from being able to have my own reaction to said fear-inducer considering how quickly I have to view someone else reacting to it. I can’t get into the actual horror in this horror movie because of it.

Okay, outside of the horror, this actually had some pretty good acting and writing. I especially like Maya Stojan, who played Mia, as she is definitely the most believable actor in the movie. It’s a good thing too as she has more screen time than anyone else. Also, I want to applaud this movie for not overusing shaky-cam, hopefully this is something they’ll remember for this particular sub-genre moving forward.

SCORING:

+5: I know I complain a lot but it’s actually not that bad of a film, doesn’t do anything I haven’t seen better elsewhere, but I also don’t feel like I just wasted 90 minutes of my life, so a solid film to watch when you have free time if you like horror or aliens, or maybe something to make fun of with your friends for “Bad Movie Night” but it’s not really bad enough for something like that but not really good enough to recommend for much else

-1: Far too much exposition, especially for a horror film

-1: This movie is a good lesson in how to not scare people

+1: Good acting from the principal cast, especially Maya Stojan

+1: Though there’s too much exposition, the writing for the dialogue is pretty good

Batman s1e6: Batman is Riled

Air Date: January 27, 1966

Rating: 10/10

After Joker proves the Dynamic Duo can be beaten, it sets off a crime wave all across the city. Now that Joker has a Utility Belt of his own, it looks like Batman and Robin might have finally been beaten. They don’t know if they’ll be able to beat the Clown Prince of Crime this time.

I really like how it’s a two-part cliffhanger every time, it calls back to the original 1940s Batman in it’s serialized format. It also gives more connection between episodes than most television at the time. Also, something that always bugged me as a kid was that they’d set up something horrible about to happen at the end of the episode only to have it immediately solved at the beginning of the next episode. But now I know this is another callback to the serialized format of the 40s and 50s and I enjoy it more than I used to.

I also really like the narrator in this one. Something they hadn’t really done until this episode was use him as an actual set-piece and explaining things as they come up. And I love him doing the recap of the previous episode at the beginning, it really sets the tone for the series even better than the cartoon opening.

SCORING:

+10: As a kid, I used to love this show, but I think there’s even more to enjoy as an adult

Spider-Man s1e12: The A-B-C’s of D-O-O-M

Air Date: November 28, 1981

Rating: 5.5/10

Dr. Doom teams up with the villain Goron (I don’t know either…) in order to try to take over the world. With Goron’s power to control minds (apparently), can Spider-Man stop this evil team from completing their plans?

I have to say, the voice actor for Dr. Doom is spot on in this show. He has just the right amount of Evil Dictator in every word he says. It’s a shame this is more of a Goron as the villain of the episode, especially since he seems to be yet another completely made up villain for this show. Maybe the creators of this series really wanted to make someone that was then used in the comics or at least some other media. I just looked it up and the answer is no, the villain Goron only exists in this one episode of Spider-Man in the entirety of the Marvel Multiverse. So, we have another villain that’s just made up on the spot with zero personality. Maybe they had licensing issues and needed more villains than what they had access to, but if you have Dr. Doom, one of the greatest supervillains ever, why not make him the main villain of the episode? I would have been fine with Goron being just a side goon, or whatever.

Anyway, outside of yet another lame villain, I felt the ending was really sudden and out of place, but I guess they ran out of time and just “had to rap it up.” I guess it was fine outside of those things.

SCORING:

+7: It was fine

-1: Lame made-up villain

-0.5: Weird and sudden ending

Batman s1e5: The Joker is Wild

Air Date: January 26, 1966

Rating: 9/10

Joker breaks out of prison literally like a Jack-in-the-Box and is out to capture a yacht for his girlfriend. Batman and Robin rush to stop him before he can get back up to his old tricks.

I have to say, I really love the way everything looks in this show. It’s kind of on the cusp of cartoony, which is something of the style of 60s television. Technicolor was the new wave and doing away with those old Black and White TV shows of the 50s, this was the sixties baby! And everything was colorful! Also, LCD was very prevalent! Yeah, Baby, Yeah! Sorry, I got a bit Austin Powers there, but watching this groovy show kind of makes me feel like I’m getting some kind of contact high or something. The colors, man, the colors!

This marks the first episode for the Joker in this show, and the actor who played him, Cesar Ramone, famously did not shave his mustache for the role and the make-up department simply painted over it with white paint. It is very obvious, especially in one scene when there’s a close-up on his face and he’s talking directly into the camera. I dunno, seems like you should hire someone else to be the Joker, but that’s just me. Also, facial hair grows back, y’know?

SCORING:

+10: A very entertaining show with so many colors!

-1: Shave the mustache!

Daredevil s1e11: The Path of the Righteous

Air Date: April 10, 2015

Rating: 10/10

After Venessa’s poisoning, Wilson Fisk rushes her to a hospital in the hopes of saving her life. Tensions between Matt and Foggy mount as they deal with the truth coming out. And Ben and Karen come closer to what really happened in Fisk’s past.

Another great episode in this series. Not a lot of action, but what is there sticks. I like how they focus on drama in this one as tensions for what’s to come continues to climb. Again it ends with a cliffhanger and one I don’t think anyone saw coming.

I’m excited for things to come, and I’m glad this has really come into its own. Though I suppose they didn’t know what works and what doesn’t as many series do in that the whole first season was released on the same day and they couldn’t see the audiences reaction until after. I’m glad it’s done this way though, it makes the whole season feel like a very long movie.

SCORING:

+10: Great

Batman s1e4: The Penguin’s a Jinx

Air Date: January 20, 1966

Rating: 10/10

Bruce Wayne must escape from the insane death trap he’d been put in by Penguin. After he does, he bugs Batman so that while Batman is trying to discover Penguin’s next scheme, he inadvertently gives it right to him. Can Batman stop his own brilliant mind?

The off-the-wall campiness is back in full force in this one, making a Batman adventure that’s simply hilarious. Burgess Meredith, who plays the Penguin, is still doing a killer job and easily steals every scene he’s in. The acting from the principal cast is good as well, but Meredith really takes the cake on this one.

Though most of this episode is kind of silly, the story actually does stand up as something that could conceivably happen in the Batman universe. I could almost see this being the plot of a movie, except someone like Scarecrow should do it as to throw the whole crime that Batman planned back in Batman’s face in an interesting way. Actually, Penguin hasn’t had a good part in a movie in a while, not since Batman Returns anyway, why not do it with him?

SCORING:

+10: Hilarious and with a good storyline

Batman s1e3: Fine Feathered Finks

Air Date: January 19, 1966

Rating: 8/10

The Penguin is in Gotham City and up to no good. He’s selling booby-trapped umbrellas to unsuspecting customers. It’s up to Batman and Robin to stop his dastardly plan!

This one felt more like a noir-styled mystery and less like the campy show we normally expect. There’s still some of the dry humor though, especially coming from the chain-smoking Penguin, who is great in this episode as a characterture of the original character.

I do like this show and I’m not sure if there’s anything to complain about for this slightly different episode. I wish’d there was more action but lacking it fit with the rest of the Detective-styled show.

SCORING:

+8: Good but nothing spectacular or anything

Blood Hunters: Rise of the Hybrids (2019)

Rating: 7/10

Alien-werewolf-vampires called Naga have invaded Earth to feed on the unsuspecting and the only protection humanity has is a group of people who call themselves Blood Hunters. They pledge their life to the cause of eradicating this force in any way they can.

I grew up in the 90s. I mention this because during that time it seemed like every month you’d get an action movie with Jackie Chan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Sylvester Stallone, and I don’t remember who else at the moment. But in between those movies, you’d also get the cheesy, independant, action films that were basically trying to copy the bigger budget films. Usually involving as much explosions and gunfire as the budget could afford. And then Blade came out and most of these also involved katanas and swordplay as well. But they would usually have pretty bad acting and storylines that fell apart if you held even a candle to them. Still, I’d eat these up like candy always looking for gold amidst the trash.

This reminds me of one of those cheesy, 90s, action flicks. It’s not nearly as bad as some of those films, but it still has a lot of the same qualities. I’d say that the worst part about this movie is the dialogue. Being that there’s almost no characterization, though one character gets a tiny backstory that does pay off later, there’s still little to really make me feel anything for our main characters and the struggles they have as they battle this supernatural threat. And, truthfully, the threat isn’t really that threatening. The Naga seem to prey almost exclusively on people stuck out in the woods, people who might have just run into a bear and been mauled anyway. I mean, they’re still evil, but this isn’t like they’re stopping them from taking over the world or anything.

This movie might not have much in the ways of story and characters, but it really shines in two places. The first is the action, which is a lot better than those independent action movies where people tended to think they could just flail their arms around as people fell down around them and it would look cool in the film (it didn’t). Here they’ve been expertly choreographed to create some pretty cool martial arts throughout the film, about the same quality as you’d expect from a show like Arrow or Daredevil where action is as much a storytelling device as anything else.

The other area that really comes through is the cinematography. The movie is introduced through narration over a comic or manga style art sequence, and the camerawork keeps that same artistic style throughout the entire film. It makes for some very captivating shots that rivals that of the Marvel movies. It perfectly captures the tone of the rest of the film.

SCORING:

+7.5: This is maybe a bit high as growing up with films like this makes this a sort of guilty pleasure for me, but the action was as good as Blood Sport with a dash of Blade thrown in and though the characters weren’t extremely fleshed out or anything, it’s not a necessity for action films

-1.5: The characters all fall flat. I still would have liked to have someone to root for or relate to, even if it’s not entirely necessary for a film like this, this movie in particular would have greatly benefitted from a clearer main character instead of jumping around like it does between people so we never really get a sense of who anyone is

+1: The action and cinematography were both pretty great throughout the film

Spider-Man s1e11: Triangle of Evil

Air Date: November 21, 1981

Rating: -1/10

Peter Parker is struggling to help Aunt May pay bills when a criminal organization calling themselves “The Triangle of Evil” informs the news they’re about steal from museums around the city. Can Spider-Man stop them before he’s evicted?

I know one of the appealing things about Spider-Man is that he’s just a normal guy dealing with normal world problems while also having to deal with supervillains occasionally attacking New York. But this one seemed a tad too ridiculous during different points. The variety show conveniently giving out the exact money he needs to help his Aunt May. Or that everyone seems to be charging Spider-Man for the furniture and windows he breaks, even though he just saved their lives. It’s things like these that push my limits of disbelief and therefore ruin my enjoyment of the show.

Actually, this whole episode feels like Spider-Man simply fell into a completely different show. It doesn’t feel like any of your typical superhero stuff. I know that the comics get pretty wonky sometimes, but this is the 11th episode in a series and we haven’t even seen Rhino yet… I’m just saying there’s more superhero stuff that Spider-Man could be doing before it devolves into this silly stuff.

SCORING:

+0: I’m struggling to think of anything to enjoy about this episode, because there isn’t any, even the animation seems lacking and phoned in

-1: What is with these no name supervillains? There’s so many Spider-Man villains they haven’t even touched why do they feel they have to make up their own?

0628: Jaws (1975)

Rating: 9.5/10

When a shark terrorizes the beach of a small town during the summer season, it’s up to a small group of men to hunt it down.

This is one of those movies that changed the game in multiple ways. For one, it was the first summer blockbuster. At the time, summer was reserved for movies that studios felt wouldn’t do well because people tended to spend more time outdoors. But, after this became the highest grossing movie up to that point (until Star Wars beat it two years later) studios started releasing bigger budget movies during the summer to try to capture the same effect. And it’s still true to this day.

Another thing, was showing that horror movies can come in all shapes and forms. True, this is arguably a monster movie of sorts, but being that the enemy is a real sea-faring creature, just a tad more unstoppable than your typical shark and much, much bigger, it feels like something that could happen in real life. It really did make people scared to swim in the ocean, and still does to this day.

The only problem I really have with this movie, and this is just a 70s style sort of thing, and that’s the pacing is soooo sloooow. Especially when they finally get on the boat and start hunting the shark. It’s just about as boring as actually being on a boat for several days waiting for something to happen. Again, this is just a 70s slow-pace and you practically can’t watch a movie from this decade without encountering it, but it still makes a good chunk of this movie a bit sluggish.

SCORING:

+10: One of the best (and most profitable) movies ever made

-0.5: A bit slow in points, but it was the style of the time