Friday, March 09, 2018

Media Notes: Roundup for February 2018

These are the movies and series on DVD I watched during February 2018.

Movies and films:

  • Assassin's Creed (2016). This is an adaptation of the video game series. Parts of it look good, but it is a seriously bad, overdone clusterfuck of a plot. Callum Lynch is a direct descendant of Aguilar, an assassin from the 15th century part of an order in conflict with the Templars, who are the tyrannical villains. Advanced technology allows him to tap the memories of his past and become an assassin in modern times to take on the Templars and find a key artifact (the Apple of Eden) that the Templars want to use to destroy free will. It is as ridiculous as it sounds; when they do find the artifact, it is even more ridiculous. An effing librarian could have probably done it. If this film had maybe stayed in the 15th century and made some kind of adventure, it might have worked but the back and forth was messy. The plot was slow and a drag, even the fight scenes were slow.  I can see why this was not successful overall with poor reviews. Even hardcore fans of the game will be disappointed in this mess. 
  • Dunkirk (2017). I wanted to like this movie more, but it was just a seriously slow piece. While I appreciate the various perspectives, it was just a slow movie to watch. Honestly, I do not see what critics out there see when they rave about it because this movie just lacked anything to really draw viewers in. You are better off just reading a book about Dunkirk if you want the dramatic and compelling story. This event was one of the British people's finest hours, but you do not get that sense here. Overall, an underwhelming and forgettable film. I am definitely glad I did not spend money to watch this in a movie theater. 
  • The Midnight Horror Collection: Road Trip to Hell (2010. 4 movies DVD collection). The library had this DVD, and I got curious. It is part of Echo Entertainment series of DVD collections with specific themes, such as road trips for this one. I looked and there are other collections for things like slashers and voodoo. Based on this selection, not quite sure if I will keep looking for others. In the end, I only watched the one movie of the set. Since that one, noted below, did not make a good impression, I returned the DVD back for now. I may or not give it a second attempt later.
    • The Craving (2008). The movie description: "A group of college students embarking on a cross country road trip to the Burning Man Festival find themselves stranded in desert. Come nightfall a vicious predatory monster comes out. . .". This movie is basically an illustration of all the stupid shit horny college students can possibly do in a horror film to get themselves killed by whatever creature/threat/danger of the moment is out there to get them in the middle of nowhere. Traveling in the desert? Check. Getting lost when they get off the main highway? Check. Lacking ability to do basic things like read a map? Check. Creepy dude in a shack in the middle of nowhere who it turns out lures victims for the creature? Check. And why does he do it? To get a high off the creature's smell of all things. Slow pacing. Some teasing sex scenes early but nothing to write home about, and overall fairly boring film where nothing really happens until about 50 minutes into the hour and 30 minutes film. The ending was not surprising neither (the movie pretty much telegraphed it). Overall, you can skip this one.

Television and other series:

  • Inspector Lewis (Pilot through Series 6, 2005-2009; Amazon link for reference). This is the spin-off of the Inspector Morse series.  After Morse's death at the end of that series, Lewis continues on as a detective. He now has a promotion to inspector, but life is not easy for him, and crime never rests in Oxford. He has a new partner, Detective Sergeant Hathaway. This month I managed to watch the first half of the set, which goes up to the middle of Series 3. Some brief comments on some of the episodes:
    • The Series Pilot episode sets the series. Seems the authors wanted to throw every tragedy they could on Lewis. Not only did Morse die, but it turns out Lewis' wife dies from a hit and run, so he is a widower now (and let's bet we find out who the killer was later in the series kind of thing). He returns to Oxford after a two-years leave working training cops in the British Virgin Islands. And right away, he is thrown into a case. Meanwhile, his new boss would rather he take a job teaching young cops, but Lewis for now is having none of that. 
    • Whom the Gods Would Destroy. A tale of murder involving four college buddies who form a secret society around the Greek god Dionysus. When they start being killed one at a time, it falls to Lewis and Hathaway to find out why. I enjoyed all the Greek myth references, and I admit it had me going since the culprit turned out to be someone I did not expect right away. A good episode overall. 
    • Music To Die For. This was a trip back in time to the 1980s and the Cold War as what seems a lover's triangle turns into a tale of East Germany and Stasi informants. It was interesting and nicely set up. We also get quite a bit of Wagner's music.

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