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From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series – Robert Rodriguez (season 1 2014)

I doubt I will have seen the film more than once or twice, but I remember the 1996 movie to be amusing. Netflix has a series and since it seems to be made by Rodriguez himself, I decided to give it a try.

The first season is basically the story of the film. A family runs into the Gecko brothers who are on the run. They force the family to take them across the Mexican border. Once on the other side, they go visit a strip club.

The film had George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino as the Gecko brothers, Harvey Keitel as the father, Juliette Lewis as the daughter and let us not forget Salma Hayek as nightclub dancer Santanico Pandemonium. The series have got some interesting actors too though, most notably Don Johnson and Robert Patrick, but also a few who mostly work on my nerves.

The story can of course be stretched over way more time and details can be added, but when you know the film, you will know what the series will bring. The whole first season I thought it was alright, but not really good. Here and there there is a good episode, but overall I was not too impressed. So little even that I do not think I am going to watch season 2 and 3.

Terminator: Dark Fate – Tim Miller (2019)

“Dark Fate” was as much fun as “Genisys“. As you can see on the cover, two characters of the original films return. The film opens with a scene from decades past in which Sarah Connor (still played by Linda Hamilton) predicts doomsday. Well actually, the doomsday that Connor predicted never happened, as Conner and her son prevented it.

That did not help prevent developing a future that still has problems with the past, so in a familiar story, both a terminator and a protector are sent back in time to terminate and protect the mother of a rebel-to-be.

So we find Dani in the same place as Grace Connor in the old days, protected by a half-woman and hunted by an extremely advanced terminator. That terminator is quite like the one in “Judgement Day” (1991), made of liquid metal that just folds back when you shoot it. A new element is that this terminator can connect to computer networks, which makes it easier for him to find his target.

We have the usual spectacular chasing scenes with shootings and explosions, shape-shifting robots and indestructible machines fighting indestructible machines. It takes a while before Schwarzenegger joins the scene. As in “Genisys” he is older, but he is as cool as he ever was and he makes the best joke I have seen in a film for quite some time claiming that he is extremely funny.

Connor and T-800 reluctantly team up trying to protect Dani while Rev-9 demolishes everything and everyone he encounters in his chase.

The many references back to the old films make “Dark Fate” an extra fun watch. There is action, a gloomy atmosphere, everybody is cool and everything looks good.

Sure a fun watch. Just as “Genisys”. Now I really feel like watching the 2003 and 2009 films as well.

The Umbrella Academy (series, season 1+2) – Blackman & Slater (2019/20)

I expected this Netflix series to be a quirky comedy. In a way it is, but it also has many elements of the popular overly violent action and superpower heroes.

On the same day, all over the world, children are born which were not conceived. These children all prove to have some sort of power and a millionaire adopts seven of these children and trains them to be a group of heroes solving the world’s problems.

By the time we meet the characters the father has passed and the adoptive brothers and sisters return after having been scattered over the globe.

In the first season one brother comes back from the future and tries to convince his siblings that they have to prevent a forthcoming apocalypse that he had already experienced. Other people from the future try to prevent “five” from achieving his goal and is slowly becomes clear how things came about.

In the second season the family has travelled back to 1963 allowing the creators to portray the characters that we know by now with different looks. A not uncommon trick nowadays. The apocalypse has travelled back in time with the “umbrella academy”, so they have to once more try to prevent is.

The series indeed are somewhat quirky. It has a talking monkey, a stern dad, a sexy “handler” with an odd sense of humour, black and violent humour, a fish with a human body, etc. Every episode has a few things to laugh and the story is somewhat interesting.

“The Umbrella Academy” is an alright series. Season 3 is already announced. It is not high up my list, but perhaps I will watch it again some time.

Anna – Luc Besson (2019)

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The Russian Anna has a tough life when she gets recruited (quite forcibly) by the secret service. After a year of training, she is appointed some heavy job after some even heavier tests.

Here we have the basis of a film with a pretty woman in an action film. The trailer shows some over the top action, but not the entire film is like that.

Being a spy film, “Anna” has a story with espionage, counter espionage, intrigue, etc. so it the side Anna works for switches all the time. Anna apparently tries to play out her employers against each other to get out of a life that she does not really want.

The film fairly violent with, as said, some over the top action and descent story.

Tenet – Christopher Nolan (2020)

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Nolan made a 007-type movie with a super agent, a Bond-girl and an arch villain who wants to destroy the world. Of course he had to come up with a ‘mind-blowing’ theme as well.

So we have bad guys who found a way to manipulate time. This seems mostly in order to make the final scenes in which two times are shown simultaneously allowing Nolan to present pretty far-out CGI which in some ways are as awe-inspiring as in “Inception” (2010).

To get to this, Nolan had to come up with a way too complex theory to explain how that last scene can come to be. Throw in another complex story about how the bad guy makes his money and how he means to end the word and you not only have a vague concept, but a downright hard-to-follow film. At times I got a bit of a “Primer” (2004) feeling. Things may just have gotten a wee bit too complex.

For the rest you can expect some over-the-top action with plane crashes to get to a painting, shootouts, fistfights, romance and everything that you expect from a 007. The film makes an amusing circle towards the end that does make that I want to see this film again some time to see if I can make more sense of the complex story.

Good, entertaining, but after a first watch, a bit too much.

Watchmen (series) – Damon Lindelof (2019)

A quite original mini series this is. It is based on a graphic novel of the same name which has been turned into a film by Zack Snyder 10 years earlier.

“Watchmen” plays in an ‘alternative’ past and present. The Ku Klux Klan has mutated into the Seventh Kavalry and they are so powerful and dangerous that the police started wearing masks to prevent their identities becoming known and the Kavelry attacking them in their private lives. These masks became action-hero type clothing giving the series the action-comic feel.

Initially we follow a few of these police officers fighting the bad guys, but as the series continue, the focus shifts to a larger story that becomes increasingly strange. There are ‘off-elements’ such as a guy playing with clones, stories of a “Mr. Manhattan” that for a long time remain but stories.

Towards the end the series become pretty vague, yet interesting. The pre-last episodes brings a lot together. Unfortunately the very last episode is too explanatory and sentimental.

“Watchmen” make a very interesting series which brutally displays the racism of the imaginary and real past and present.

Ghost Rider – Mark Steven Johnson (2007)

This is quite a corny Marvel, a fairly amusing one though.

Johnny Blaze is a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the devil so that the latter can cure his father of cancer. The devil plays a trick on Johnny. Also it takes a while before he comes pick up Johnny for his task: he will be a contract killer.

In a very over-the-top way, Johnny turns into a burning motor driving hitman during the night. In the meantime he runs into the love of his youth.

Not without reason Nicholas Cage was hired to play Johnny Blaze. I find some of the other actors less convincing for their parts. Overall the film is mostly cheap entertainment, but somewhat entertaining.

The Defenders (series) – Petrie & Ramirez (2017)

A while ago I felt like watching a bit of a gritty action series and ran into “Gotham”. As the title suggests, this is a “Batman” series. Well actually the series are from before Bruce Wayne became Batman. The series are alright, but there is a lot of drama, little action, soap and Hollywood moralism (like in the films). I wanted something with more action and started looking for Marvel series. Something amusing, action, superheroes. I found “The Defenders”.

Extra plus: there is but one season (Netflix does have a season two trailer). I had hoped for more over-the-top action with humor and funny villains. That did not entirely work out.

There are four people with “abilities” all working to make the city of New York safer on themselves. Circumstances bring the four together to fight a common enemy.

After a while it started to dawn on me that the four characters are action heroes in their own right. Indeed, each has a series of his/her own. “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist”.

There is a lot of ‘kong fu fighting’, but it all remains a bit ‘teen’. The story is a bit thin, but there is something to laugh here and there. No superheroes flying from one building tot the next, running up and down walls, but there is the Matrix-like action and the occasional dress-up party.

Not boring, but not what I hoped to find.

The Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan (2012)

Last week I was checking how/if I could watch titles on my wish list. I checked if Netflix already had Nolan’s latest (“Tenet”) and I was suggested the present title. I do not even know if I knew that Nolan made two “Dark Knight” films.

Reading back my review of the other “Dark Knight” film, I was amused by it. Less I can say about “The Dark Knight Rises” though…

Bruce Wayne is old(er) and retired. Quite some people seem to know that he was Batman. Events in Gotham (of course) make Wayne return to his former ‘status’.

We have a very unlikely story with the villain, both his past and his plans for Gotham (mostly the reasons for it). In a bit of a James Bond type of bad guy who wants to ruin the world story with some references to Wayne’s history, a fairly nice, gloomy film unfolds. Too bad that there are boring sentimentalist and moralist scenes and the all-too-human Bruce Wayne is a bit tiring too.

The film is alright, but I do not like the drama much. Towards the end, things get weaker and weaker and what remains is but a pomp Hollywood disaster movie.

Wheelman – Jeremy Rush (2017)

A get-away-car-driver-for-hire is hired for a job within his parole period. He does not like names, so he says: “just call me wheelman”. While waiting outside the bank that gets robbed by his temporary associates, he gets a call, apparently from the man who hired him. A crazy story unfolds.

Wheelman is first told to get rid of his associates and exchange the money. That does not feel right, so Wheelman takes off. He starts receiving calls from different people while his contact proves hard to reach. Not knowing which of the two callers is his biggest threat, Wheelman tries to avoid danger and figure out a plan while driving.

Almost the entire film plays inside the car. Wheelman has to take care of family business (his recently divorced wife and 13 year old daughter), two blackmailers and his contact in order to get out of the situation alive.

“Wheelman” is an alright action film.