Omicron Persei 8


What makes this film a decent watch isn't the time loop at all, but how each loop you get little hints about the couple experiencing a home invasion, and the fraught political situation of the world they live in.

Time travel is a common trope in science fiction, employed to change the past, but ARQ is nothing like 12 Monkeys or Looper. Science fiction lovers will remember "that time loop episode" of their favourite science fiction show. This film is not concerned with whys/hows, and doesn't preach about time manipulation; the machine is only a tool here.

This plays a lot like an extended short film, as each loop is a (slightly different) slice-of-life perspective. I agree with reviewers who say it feels like a pilot (the ending supports this), but disagree that it would make a good series. I think the current length is designed to make you tired of the loops but not quite tired of the actors. The team did a great job of doing something a little different, moving a little faster each time, so you can see them adapting emotionally to the looping.

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Please Like Me

I can only describe this show as 'perfectly awkward'. I adore how it skips across the balance beam of comedy and drama, depicting some incredibly realistic situations and life events that range from hilarious to depressing, without wallowing in either of them. This is not a tearjerker about depression, or a rofl-comedy, but that perfect sardonic middle where all characters are both likeable and flawed.

Showrunner, writer, and lead Josh Thomas has said it is based on his own life. Although his unique voice was a bit of a hurdle at first, I quickly warmed to his, and other characters. Give it a few episodes at least :)

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Marvel's Inhumans

The first two episodes set such a low bar that I genuinely wondered how the test audience let it fly under the radar... then I remembered the existence of Iron Fist. The premise of Inhumans is fine, but the plot and action is dull and slow, presumably to allow for character development... unfortunately the characters are unlikeable, as all the 'good guys' are simultaneously arrogant and naive, making them unsympathetic. Iwan Rheon's character is a rare exception, but I suspect my misplaced affection for Misfits may muddle my judgement there.

TL;DR If I didn't know better I'd think it was a second-rate mockbuster, but given The Defenders... maybe I need to resign myself to the new Marvel/Netflix reality.

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The Orville

I was excited about the premise, as a fan of both Star Trek as well as sci-fi comedy, but having seen 3 episodes it falls short of expectations.

I had hoped for either a clever parody, or a farce exaggerating Star Trek plots to comical extremes. Instead, it comes off as a weak-tea homage. Sure, numerous Star Trek references provide fanservice, but the characterization/acting is flat and the comic moments feel silly rather than punchy. I do appreciate the show's dedication to ethics as espoused by the original Star Trek, and will probably continue watching if only to see which ethical debates the writers think are most relevant in 2017.

Overall, I get the impression of a skit or community theatre, leaving me wishing for a stronger script.

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The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman's Bodyguard has a forgettable plot that clearly comes in third, losing out to Reynolds' and Jackson's buddy-cop snark and their respective romantic troubles, but action sequences stuffed with absent-minded kills are perfectly satisfying for a summer action flick. Admittedly, you might feel a little shock at seeing a rule-following 'Deadpool' and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants 'Nick Fury' but that's rather the point, I think.

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Tale of Tales

This is not a Disney fairytale, but is reminiscent of that mixture of innocence and horror from the Grimm's tales. This twisted short story collection is a feast for the eyes.

I found the stories themselves to be somewhat unsatisfying. The tales are fragmented and instead of a single climax, each has a 'point of no return', where a character makes a choice and everything goes horribly wrong. The cast, however, was excellent and clearly worked hard to not let their characters become the one-dimensional caricatures seen in story books.

The real stars, however, are the Italian castles and caves. This film might be tourism propaganda, and I'm not even mad. Seriously, even if you skip the film go check out the screenshots and film posters on Imdb, they're a treat.

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The movie gives you just enough of an interesting concept of a feminist-artificial-life awakening in the first few minutes to genuinely deepen the disappointment throughout the rest of the film. I'd recommend skipping this in favour of the Westworld series, but if you're still curious, watch the trailer and then fill in the plot mad-libs-style. You'll undoubtedly turn out with something far more satisfying (yes, even action-scene-wise).

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The Aliens

This dramedy is set in the premise of alien segregation, such as "V", "District 9", or the contemporary "Cleverman". It is rather heavy-handed with the metaphors and at times patently ridiculous. If you're looking for a more reflective social commentary, I suggest you check out one of the others (listed in order of release).

On the other hand, this wry, dry, and (very) British miniseries offers a relatable taste of a character that discovers something about himself, and proceeds to walk that fine line between f***ing his life up and figuring it out. There are no superheroes here, but Michael Socha is believable as the gobsmacked and impulsive Lewis, who makes me want to facepalm at least once per episode.

No interest in sci-fi required, but if you sneer at soft SF you may wish to skip this one.

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The OA

This show made me feel somehow validated, confused, then betrayed, and more confused. It wasn't fast, and I still don't understand it, but it got steadily more complex and kept me interested in the ride.

If you liked the X-Files, and Stranger Things, give this a shot and be prepared to be patient through the slow start. If unexplained mysteries irritate you, or you will always pick the latest superhero movie over an arthouse feature, ymmv. Either way, watch with a friend so you can yell about it afterwards.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events

If you loved the books, you needn't fear disappointment! The tone stays very true to irreverent comedic melancholy of the books, and is supported technically by the sets and lighting (like a city immediately after a rainstorm, generally damp and gloomy but especially vivid at the same time).

Note that all characters are closer to two-dimensional caricatures than actual people. This is, however, in line with the book series, where the 'writer' reports facts and events with emotional distance. I believe this was designed to allows readers the room to marvel at the utter ridiculousness of all the adults, and at the inventive perseverance of the Baudelaire children, while still preserving the central overarching mystery. This strategy works great in print, but doesn't translate quite as well to the screen.

For myself, the dark humour and Neil Patrick Harris's portrayal of the frankly outrageous Count Olaf more than made up for flat characters, but if neither the author's dark humour nor NPH is your thing, then ymmv.

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