Triple Scoop Reviews: The Witch: Part I – The Subversion, Death Bell, and Guns Akimbo

The Witch: Part I – The Subversion

Year: 2018
Director: Park Hoon Jung
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix
Spoilers: Surprisingly, no
Grade: Chocolate

Oh, I really enjoyed this Korean SF/F action-horror movie. I confess to not totally getting the title (something lost in translation, perhaps), but the movie itself is a pretty good time. Kim Da Mi is excellent here as Goo Ja Yun, an amnesiac who ran away ten years ago from one of those evil government facilities that likes to experiment on children. (A very specific sub-genre I’m apparently a sucker for, considering Dark Angel, Stranger Things, The Pretender, etc.) I also like Go Min Shi, who plays Ja Yun’s excitable best friend, and Choi Woo Shik, who plays, well, Chaotic Evil. I very much enjoyed the latter’s work in Train to Busan and Parasite, but it wasn’t until I saw this movie that I realized, oh, he’s not just talented; he’s hot. Lots of people try for smirky evil hot but only manage smirky obnoxious. Choi Woo Shik is not one of those people.

The Witch: Subversion – Part I has a slow, steady build with an explosive third act, and I’m looking forward to seeing a sequel. (I believe a trilogy is planned?) There are other things to talk about; unfortunately, they all include spoilers, and I’d prefer not to get into those now. But the movie is an awful lot of fun, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who also enjoys a) this very specific sub-genre, and b) violence. Because there is most certainly violence. Obviously, I approve of this.

Death Bell

Year: 2008
Director: Chang
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Other – Youtube
Spoilers: Some. Mind the tags, in particular
Grade: Strawberry

This is apparently a hugely popular horror film in South Korea and was fun enough to watch, but ultimately, I’m pretty meh on the actual execution. I’m all about the basic setup, of course: a group of kids (and teachers) are trapped at a high school and forced to successfully solve a series of test questions, or else their classmates will be violently murdered. I like the idea of the bad guys here and their respective motives. I’d genuinely like to see this film remade by a different director with a better script.

But as is, I have several problems, like, almost none of the death traps work for me, not just because they’re such obvious Saw knock-offs, but because they’re way too elaborate and ridiculous to fit the actual scenario. (Some people are quick to accuse a horror movie of being a Saw knock-off just because its exceptionally violent and/or includes death traps, but these ones really do lack originality.) There is both a human and supernatural angle to this story; unfortunately, the supernatural stuff mostly feels mishandled. The last minute twist seems particularly cheap because it doesn’t feel supported by the actor’s performance at all–though it does, I suppose, at least make another character’s whole storyline less random in retrospect. (Still not terribly fond of it, TBH.)

Additionally, two quick notes: one, I’m all about horror movies acknowledging that girls have periods–seriously, I am all for it–but this mostly felt like an excuse for a weird upper thigh shot, so, eh? And two, any sympathy I might have had for one character completely goes out the window the second she realizes that everyone around her has mysteriously passed out and decides that this is a great time to put on her headphones, alone, in the middle of a school where multiple people have been murdered. I. You. What. WHY?!?!?!

Guns Akimbo

Year: 2020
Director: Jason Lei Howden
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Not really
Grade: Vanilla

There’s a lot to like here, especially if you’re into over-the-top, gonzo action flicks like me, but there are also things that don’t quite land. For one, I’m not sure I’m totally buying our Big Bad; Ned Dennehy is okay in the role, but I feel like other actors could’ve done more with it. Neal McDonough, for instance, was made for this kind of villain. Also might’ve enjoyed Clancy Brown, who Mek suggested for some punk Highlander vibes. More importantly, though, Guns Akimbo has this weird tendency to throw in a moral now and then that just doesn’t work. Like when Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) wonders how long it’s been since he went outside without staring at his phone, and I’m like, bitch, that’s some weak tea satire; are you actually mistaking that for an original perspective, and anyway, who the hell is thinking “gosh, I wish I’d stopped to smell the roses” when they’re stumbling around after waking up with gun hands? I feel, too, that there’s a small but annoying thread of “anti PC culture” running throughout the film, an impression that only seems validated after remembering the controversy around director Jason Lei Howden. Yikes.

All that being said, I could watch Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving in this all day. They’re both great here: Radcliffe has some absolutely phenomenal reactions–I am so down for all his absolutely bizarre post-HP projects–whereas Weaving is just as iconic here as she was in Ready or Not. She’s pretty fantastic in this, IMO. Not every bit of humor lands right (Rhys Darby’s character, sadly, feels like a series of punch down jokes, much as my Voltron geek girl heart hates to admit it), but a lot of the dialogue is genuinely hilarious; for example, I about died when Miles tried to cut off this cop’s tragic backstory. I like Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), too; she doesn’t get much to do, unfortunately, but I did find her interesting. Also, Nerf Guy!

If you like the concept of Guns Akimbo, there’s a decent chance you’ll like the movie: there are some really fun fight scenes, amusing bits of meta humor, one or two solid surprise moments, and just a very enjoyable soundtrack. I’m actually glad I watched it; I just really wish I could tweak it some, too. And yeah, it’d also be nice if the writer/director didn’t entirely suck as a person.

Genderbent Wednesdays Presents MAVERICK

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It’s time to fulfill my second Clarion West Write-a-Thon reward, only this time, we’re doing things a little different. Huw–my friend, WaT sponsor, and unofficial Class President of CW 2012–asked for a genderbent essay, rather than a typical review. Kindly, he provided a whole list of films which I could choose from, and while several movies might have proven interesting, I simply couldn’t resist picking Maverick. I grew up on this film, after all, was 8 going on 9 when it first came out. Pretty sure it was my introduction to both Jodie Foster and James Garner, honestly. (Though not Mel Gibson. That was almost certainly Lethal Weapon.)

Anyway, thus far, I’ve really only examined action, suspense, and horror films for my Genderbent Wednesday reviews. Analyzing a western (okay, a western-comedy) and reimagining it with an almost entirely female cast?

Yep. I’m here for it. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Year of Monsters: The Mummy

I adore The Mummy (1999). I adore The Mummy Returns. I do not adore The Mummy (2017) with Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, but to be fair, I only watched about ten minutes of it. Maybe it gets better. (It doesn’t get better. We all know it.)

Now it’s time to see where all these movies began.

May I present The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff and Zita Johann.

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World’s Worst Trekkie: Carlie Takes on “The Corbomite Maneuver”

I’ve been having a great time watching TOS with my sister, but I’ve also been a tiny bit disappointed that, overall, my reactions to most episodes have been somewhere between “meh” and “NO.” Not exactly shocked, mind; I know what a critical bastard I am, but still: I’m a nerd, and nerds are made for liking things. Going into this episode, I was really hoping to have more of a “hell yeah” reaction.

Luckily for me, “The Corbomite Maneuver” is easily my favorite episode since “The Naked Time.”

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“Our Big Foot’s Not Playing Games Anymore.”

Let me begin by telling you that Tom is a terrible person.

You may remember Tom, or you may not. I’ve mentioned him once or twice before on this blog. I used to think he was an okay sort of guy, maybe even a friend, despite the fact that he has all the absolute worst movie opinions. Recently, however, I’ve had to amend that statement. For Tom, you see, is the enemy, and I’ll tell you why: in a sudden, uncharacteristic, and unwanted fit of goodnatured-ness, I told Tom that I’d watch and review a movie for him, even that terrible Big Foot movie he was always talking about. He didn’t have to actually pick the Big Foot movie, mind you. He could have seen this as the charitable act of a co-worker and taken some small measure of mercy on me by picking literally anything else.

But of course, he did not do this. Instead, Tom bought Night of the Demon, had it gift-wrapped, and then sent it to my house. And last Friday, armed with neither nearly enough alcohol or sugar, Mekaela and I sat down and watched our early 80’s Big-Foot-Demon movie.

Damn you, Tom. Damn you to Hell.

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“With My Luck, You’ll Probably Turn Out To Be Another Delusion.”

It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means.

f13-7

It’s time for the next installment of Friday the 13th. This time we’re looking at Part VII: The New Blood, where Jason is resurrected YET AGAIN, this time not by Tommy Jarvis, lightning, and the clear will of God, but instead by adolescent and psychic Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln), who has returned to Camp Crystal Lake because of her absolutely terrible therapist, and accidentally raises an undead serial killer. As you do.

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Season Finale Round Up: May 20th-May 27th

Another week of Season Finales, this time all from CW shows. And maybe I’m just being an incredibly cranky bastard lately, but I really only liked one of them. Again! Come on, finales, stop letting me down!

As always, SPOILERS, SPOILERS EVERYWHERE.

The 100

100

The 100 had a problematic third season: sometimes exciting, sometimes infuriating. I’d had doubts that Jaha’s subplot was ever going to pay off, but boy, did it ever: I loved almost everything about the AI storyline. I was less enthused, unfortunately, with the first half of the season; which means pretty much anything Pike brought to the table. My most serious Season 3 complaint was not Lexa’s death, but Bellamy’s OOC choice to participate in the grounder massacre. The 100’s MO has always been characters making hard choices, and I like that they sometimes make the wrong ones. But I still have to buy the choices, and I just never quite did with Bellamy. The 100 fumbled this execution almost as badly as they fumbled Finn in Season 2, and I find I’m even less willing to forgive them this time around.

Still, the finale itself was enjoyable. I always figured one of our main players would end up putting the chip in their head, and I’ll admit, I really wanted that person to be Raven. (Because she’s the best, and also because I was always bummed they never really went anywhere with the fact that Raven was the only person who could throw off ALIE, at least initially.) Clarke, sadly, was the incredibly obvious choice. I was way more interested when she was just the ‘flame keeper,’ not ‘temporary inheritor of the flame.’ Still, her taking the chip meant we got a better sendoff for Lexa, and while Lexa’s death didn’t personally trouble me to the extent it angered much of the fanbase, it was still really nice to see her return, kicking all kinds of ass. Damn you, Walking Dead spin-off, for taking Lexa away from us.

Other random notes:

A. Oh, Paige Turco, don’t make me tear up. Come on, don’t . . . damn it, Turco.

B. I’m not a medical professional (I only work with them) but I remain skeptical about the validity of this blood transfusion. Also, why exactly does Murphy have to be the one to pump the heart? Shouldn’t the only doctor in the group be doing important things like that? Oh, I see, the doctor’s too busy looking at Clarke’s face and saying things like “fight it” or “stay with me” or whatever she actually says. Yeah, okay. That makes sense.

C. Seeing Clarke and Jasper and everyone else in a modern-day city was a little jarring, but also kind of neat.

D. I see that electrocution is once again being used to conveniently hold off our enemies instead of frying them dead. Oh, handy electrocution.

E. I love that Monty somehow remains the optimist of the show, despite the fact that he had to kill his mom twice during this season. Still, I think maybe it’s time for Jasper to pull his head out of his ass and comfort Monty for once next season? I do love this exchange, though: “I’m sorry I stabbed you/I’m sorry I shot you.”

F. I don’t know why everyone’s looking all horrified that Octavia killed Pike after all; that was obviously how this story was going to end, and thank God, too. If we’re supposed to be hinting that Octavia is going to emotionally suffer from this decision next season, like, oh, she has a guilty conscience now, or killing Pike has left her more emotionally hollow and evil or whatever, I don’t buy it. Pike needed to die. I’m just happy no one else did. We had enough death this season. (I do wish we could have seen Indra, but at least we got verbal confirmation that she made it.)

I’ll definitely be back for next season (have to see how that whole potential nuclear apocalypse plays out, after all), but I’m hoping The 100 is a little less problematic next season. Maybe less of our heroes engaging in genocide for obviously stupid reasons?

FINALE GRADE: B+
SEASON GRADE: B

Arrow

felicity

Oh, that was just dull. Arrow started out the season pretty strong for me, and there were, as always, a lot of moments and characters I enjoyed. Curtis is a great addition. Neal McDonough, as always, is a goddamn delight. I could watch Domestic Oliver forever, and who doesn’t like Donna Smoak and Quentin Lance? Plus, when Felicity was on, she was ON.

But fourth season started fizzling out in the middle, as it is wont to do. Between Oliver’s dumb ass secret, Oliver and Felicity’s annoying breakup, Felicity’s miracle cure, and the flashbacks that, at this point, I’ve actively started tuning out . . . yeah, we had problems going into this finale. And there was an idea in “Schism” that I really liked, with everyone ending up in almost exactly opposite places from where they were a year ago, but because the execution throughout the season was so flawed, it all kind of fell flat for me. It seemed like it took forever for Andy to die, but Diggle’s turn to the Dark Side afterwards somehow still felt rushed, and seriously, Lyla. Even if he wasn’t lying about the whole ‘murder vs. self defense thing,’ come on: Diggle killed his brother, what, a month ago? Shit, I’m still upset about mean things people said to me last decade. Why are you so surprised he isn’t back to normal yet?

Thea, too, has just been all over the place. I don’t think the show has any idea what to do with her, which is annoying. I could potentially really like Thea if the creators could just settle on a decent storyline for her. Oliver’s stop-and-go journey towards the Light could use a fair bit of work, too. (It’s nice that Felicity stayed with him, though, despite the fact that they aren’t currently together. Emotional maturity? What a concept for this show.)

And as great as Damien Darhk has been, that’s entirely because Neal McDonough is a charming madman who I would watch read the phone book, presuming he could find one. By the end, his whole plan and dead wife and death-to-the-world shtick were all pretty boring. Worse, I couldn’t buy into Oliver’s speech, like, at all, and it had nothing to do with the acting. The speech was just so hilariously mistimed and silly. I’m really all for the idea of the Green Arrow being an inspiration (instead of a symbol of violence and fear and all that), but dude, a hint of practicality would not go amiss.

And while I’m totally down with the concept of HOPE defeating DARKNESS, Jesus Christ, you guys. This might have actually beaten out Supergirl in ridiculous word repetition, which probably shouldn’t be so surprising, considering this is a Greg Berlanti show. And Berlanti’s superhero shows have a lot to recommend, they do, but he and all his writers should have to sit in a dark room listening to nothing but yowling cats and endless bagpipes until they’ve figured out a way to write a script that has no key thematic word used more than three times per episode. Preferably less.

But why get worked up, right? After all, who knows if any of this even happened? Thanks a lot, Barry Allen. (See below.)

FINALE GRADE: C
SEASON GRADE: B-

The Flash

cisco

I disliked this finale. A lot.

Zoom, unfortunately, ended up being a pretty underwhelming villain, which is sort of what I feared from the very second I heard Tony Todd had been cast. Tony Todd has an amazing voice. Tony Todd has the voice of an evil and wonderful god. Anybody that does not match up to the glory that is Tony Todd’s voice is just setting himself up to be the next Darth Vader letdown. But in fairness to Teddy Sears, he was actually much more enjoyable once he became a villain. (As Jay Garrick, he was white rice on vanilla ice cream slathered on eggshell wallpaper.) A decent villainous performance, unfortunately, does not make up for the most boring of villain agendas, and 99% of this finale felt like it had no real stakes. This was a huge letdown after the tremendous threat that Zoom has been all season.

And Barry continuing to have the worst plans of all time did not help at all.

Frankly, I cheered when the rest of the team knocked Barry’s ass out and locked him away because, seriously, Barry’s plans are AWFUL. I feel sorry for the kid, and Grant Gustin does a hell of a job selling tears (like, he is really good at it), but Barry’s total failure to understand the potential consequences of his actions just kills me dead every time. This is actually worse than the Terrible Time Travel Plan of last season, except . . . oh, we’re . . . we’re going back to that, too?

Look, last season I was a little disappointed that the show didn’t having Barry rewrite time and reboot the whole universe, mostly because that would have been a pretty exciting shake-up. This season, however, I did not want that shakeup. This season came with a lot of things I really, really liked, like pretty much everything about Cisco’s meta-human powers, the multi-verse and all its potential, and, of course, Earth-2 Harry. I would honest-to-God watch a spinoff with just Earth-2 Harry and Cisco. I don’t know what the Harry Cisco show would be about, but by God, I would watch every second of it.

But now . . . who knows? Obviously, Barry still has to become The Flash somehow, otherwise the show will have significant problems. And the multi-verse has to stay open, or we can’t do our already-promoted four-show-crossover extravaganza. But who’s building the particle accelerator? Will Eobard-Thawne-Harrison Wells still kill Original Harrison Wells? Will I even get Earth 2 Wells? (I MUST. I MUST have him.) But how will Eobard know to kill Harrison Wells if his time remnant isn’t captured by the Flash team and told basically, well, everything? That’s how Eobard knows to kill Harrison, isn’t it? And that’s how he knows to hire Cisco for sure. Even if he does build the particle accelerator, who knows if Cisco is around to get affected by it. What if Cisco isn’t a meta-human anymore? (THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.) And how will this affect the other superhero shows because it totally would. Everyone on Arrow is dead right now if Barry isn’t The Flash. Is everyone on Arrow dead right now, Barry? Did you kill everyone, you little shit? Actually, I’m pretty sure Kendra and Carter from Legends of Tomorrow would probably be dead too, so who the fuck even knows what just happened on that show. Vandal Savage is probably still alive. Then again, if Barry doesn’t save Team Arrow, that means Team Arrow can’t stop the nuclear apocalypse, correct? Everyone is dead right now, Barry, and it is ALL YOUR FAULT.

At this point, I’m hanging onto the hope that Barry’s rebooted timeline lasts for all of one episode before he realizes what a terrible mistake he’s made (or Rip Hunter and his Merry Team of Time Bandits shake some sense into him) and he fixes everything. Normally, ambitious cliffhangers that get easily resolved in one episode are a big annoyance for me, but honestly, I think it might be the best solution here.

Other things I’d like to see in Season Three:

1. More Iris being awesome and less of Iris as a love interest, because I’ve basically lost faith that anyone on a Greg Berlanti show can be both. I mean, except for Patty, of course, who was a way better fit for Barry, which is why we stupidly and unceremoniously shoved her ass out the door, of course. Iris, though, has had some pretty stellar moments this season, and exactly none of them have revolved around her potential romance with the Scarlet Speedster.

2. Jesus Christ, fix Caitlin. Commit to her being evil, or continue her post-Zoom PTSD, or give her any storyline that doesn’t revolve around a man, but something needs to be done about her, pronto, because she is an entirely useless character at this point who can’t even be counted on to not suddenly become horribly racist on occasion. Yeah, Flash, I haven’t forgotten that.

3. Less stupid decisions, especially from Barry? But I suspect that’s asking way too much.

4. More Cisco and Harry, Earth II. They’re the primary reason this season is getting as high of a grade as it is, despite the Zoom letdown and the Utter Fail of Caitlin Snow. They are the reason I get excited to watch The Flash every single week. THE HARRY AND CISCO SHOW FOREVER!

FINALE GRADE: C-
SEASON GRADE: B+