Sunday, March 18, 2018

'The Gifted' Triumphs as an 'X-Men' TV Series

Like with Legion, I was turned off by the trailer for The Gifted.  Based on that, I thought it was going to suck.  But when it finally arrived late last year, the general buzz was that it was actually quite good (Fox should replace whoever is making their trailers).  Thus, my interest was piqued.  But I was already juggling a lot of shows to watch that time, so I only got to see the pilot – which I thought was pretty solid – with the intention of watching the rest of the season once it finished and when I finally got the time.  Now, if I had decided to weekly follow the series then, it would have definitely made my list for top 20 TV shows of 2017.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

'Annihilation' Is a Freaky and Trippy Science Fiction Film About Self-Destruction and Self-Reflection

Annihilation is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Alex Garland.  Like his previous work, Ex Machina, this movie is thought-provoking and arthouse-y.  In fact, its producers thought it was “too intellectual” and “too complicated” but Garland refused to dumb it down to appeal to a wider audience.  Hence, this leads to the movie being released internationally through Netflix instead of having a wide theatrical release.  After watching it, at a business standpoint, I understand the concerns of the producers.  It’s indeed the kind of movie that won’t have massive appeal, and thus, won’t be profitable.  It can get so weird and metaphorical, to the point that it can turn off most viewers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The 6th Bernel Zone Awards for Big Screen & Small Screen

As usual, it’s late again.  But this is probably the latest it has ever been.  Lol.  Anyway, with the Academy Awards now done, it’s now this blog’s turn to hand out its awards for 2017’s film and TV.

Best Movie Hero: Logan a.k.a. James Howlett a.k.a. Wolverine (Logan)
Through a thoughtful Oscar-nominated script and masterful direction from James Mangold, Hugh Jackman’s most iconic role is given a powerful, poignant swan song.

Runners-up: K (Blade Runner 2049), Caesar (War for the Planet of the Apes), Kwoon Yoo (The Fabricated City), Baby (Baby Driver), Peter Parker a.k.a. Spider-Man (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Hercule Poirot (Murder on the Orient Express)

Best TV Hero: The Doctor (Doctor Who)
Let me pay tribute to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor, who is now probably my most favorite incarnation.  The next time the Doctor wins a Bernel, it won’t be as “Best TV Hero” anymore.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The New 'Spider-Man' Animated Series Spins the Mythos with Mixed Results

The Spectacular Spider-Man was an awesome show.  From 2008 to 2009, it ran for two seasons before being abruptly cancelled, breaking the hearts of its viewers.  For many, it’s the pinnacle of Spider-Man cartoons.  It’s smart, sentimental, and exciting; and despite being primarily kid-oriented, it succeeded in being universally appealing to Spidey fans of all ages.  In my mind, the 90’s animated series is slightly better, but it’s most likely due to nostalgia and the fact that, among all Spidey cartoons, it was the closest to reflect the comic books.  However, as a show per se, The Spectacular Spider-Man has the superior quality.   It’s for that reason that, since a season 3 is looking to be impossible, it’s my benchmark to whatever new Spidey cartoon is out there.

I didn’t like and follow Ultimate Spider-Man because: a.) it was crafted to exclusively entertain kids, and thus, it was too goofy and juvenile; and b.) it was the show that was made in order to replace The Spectacular Spider-Man.  However, the subsequent Spidey cartoon caught my interest.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

'No Game No Life' Is Sheer Awesomeness

No Game No Life debuted in 2014 with an 11-episode season.  It went under my radar then, but recently, it was highly recommended to me by my sister (who was also the one that introduced me to Haikyuu!).  So I checked it out.

The story centers on 18-year-old Sora and his 11-year-old stepsister Shiro.  Both are agoraphobic shut-ins, but both are also geniuses proficient in deduction, logic, strategy, tactics, calculation, and other mental powers.  And where do they apply their preeminent intellects?  Playing games, of course!  Together, they become known in gaming circles as the legendary “Blank”, as they win every game they play – even if a handicap or a cheat is used against them.

Their remarkable domination of games catches the attention of the god of another world, Tet.  After a chess match, he transports them to his world, Disboard, because he knows they are fit to be in it.  It’s because Disboard is governed by a powerful spell called “Ten Pledges”, which prevents its inhabitants from harming one another and forces them to resolve conflicts by gambling through games.  Thus, in a world that revolves around games, Sora and Shiro begin to thrive.

Friday, March 09, 2018

'Downsizing' Explores the Fascinating Implications of Miniaturization

Downsizing has a very cool premise: The technology to shrink humans down to five inches has been discovered.  Primarily intended to address overpopulation and reducing waste, it proves to also be economically advantageous to those who chose to “downsize”, as the value of their money exponentially increase since the amount of things they need to buy and consume become tremendously lesser.

The plot then sees a financially struggling occupation therapist named Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) becoming sold on the benefits of downsizing.  So he convinces his wife (Kristen Wiig) to downsize and move to a downsized community where they can live a life of luxury.  However, the result of the life-changing decision doesn’t mirror what Paul is expecting.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

'The Greatest Showman' Is a Wonderful Feel-Good Movie

Last year, after 146 years of operation, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed due to constantly poor attendance and high maintenance costs.  Ironically, it was the same year that a musical drama film about its founder (when it was still Barnum & Bailey Circus) P.T. Barnum was released.  Titled The Greatest Showman, it stars Hugh Jackman as Barnum, and has a cast that includes Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson.  It follows Barnum’s rags-to-riches journey as he gathers the “freaks” ostracized by society to produce a revolutionary spectacle that captured the world’s imagination.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

'Paddington 2' Is as Perfectly Sweet and Pleasing as Paddington's Marmalade

Paddington was an instant family movie classic.  But Paddington 2 is as every bit as delightful, funny, and heartwarming.

Paddington, having been adopted by the Browns, is now living a happy London life, and has become a very popular member of the community.  With his Aunt Lucy’s birthday getting nearer, he’s keen of showing appreciation for everything she has done for him through the perfect birthday gift.  His search leads him to an antique pop-up book, which he knows will mightily please her.  Determined to purchase it, he begins performing several odd jobs here and there in order to save up for it.  However, when a mysterious thief steals it, Paddington must unmask him and recover the book before Aunt Lucy’s grand birthday.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Is a Fun Popcorn Movie, but a Bad Sequel

Jumanji was a childhood favorite of mine.  Watched it several times.  I thought it had a very fun premise.  Hence, when it was announced that it was going to have a sequel starring The Rock, and this time around, it would involve a video game cartridge instead of a board game, I got interested.  Then I saw the trailer, and I hated it.   Even so, I still decided to see it (not in theaters though).

Titled Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it follows four high schoolers coming from different backgrounds (Alex Wolff, Ser'Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) who have to spend detention together (kind of like The Breakfast Club).  They discover an old video game called Jumanji and decide to play it.  However, they are magically sucked into the game itself and have transformed into the adult avatars (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillian, and Jack Black) they have chosen.  In order to get back to the real world, they must use the strengths of their avatars and beat the game, before their lives counters are depleted.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Lonzo Ball Had His Biggest Game as a Laker

“He can’t shoot.”  That is probably a valid criticism of Lonzo Ball.  After all, despite averaging in double figures in points (10.4 a game), he’s just shooting 37% from the field, 34% from behind the arc, and an appalling 49% (!) from the free-throw line.  Sure, he had been a positive presence in the roster – contributing well in other aspects, like playmaking (7.1 assists per game), rebounding (7.1 per game), and defense – but the bad shooting is a bummer nonetheless.

However, in the four games since his return from injury, he has been on a hot streak, making 16 of his 28 shots (57%) – 14 of which are three-pointers (64%)!  But it was in the most recent one, which was against the Spurs at their home floor, where the thought that he’s finally emerging has truly gained legitimacy.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

'Bleeding Steel' Is Yet Another Laughably Bad Jackie Chan Movie

It seems Jackie Chan won’t stop making movies anytime soon, even though much of his recent filmography has been pretty bad (The Foreigner being the only good one of late).  Money’s still good, probably.

This time, it’s a sci-fi action film called Bleeding Steel.  In it, Jackie Chan plays a veteran Police Special Agent who goes against a futuristic nefarious organization keen of abducting a young woman (Ouyang Nana) with a mysterious past.  Meanwhile, an awkward but technologically savvy thief (Show Lo) with his own mysterious motivations also wants to protect her.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

'Ferdinand' Is Good but Unnecessary

With the Oscars just two days away, I thought it was timely to finally check Ferdinand out, and see if it truly deserves its nomination for Best Animated Feature (which Coco will win).

Based on a children’s book, Ferdinand is about a huge bull (John Cena) who doesn’t hold the same desire as other bulls, and that is, to find glory in fighting a matador in an arena.  Instead, he dislikes violence and prefers smelling flowers.  However, after a major mishap where he’s mistaken as a fearful beast, he’s captured and prepared to be pitted against the legendary bullfighter El Primero.

'Baccano!' Is an Awesome Anime That Is Criminally Overlooked

Baccano! was released in 2007, but it was only a few years back that I got wind of it when I was actively looking for great but not so popular anime.  However, I only watched the first episode.  I can’t even remember if I finished it or gave up halfway through.  I wasn’t compelled to give it time and watch the rest.  But, recently, I decided to give it another go.  I started with the first episode again – since I already forgot how it went; this time around, in a span of three days, I got to finish watching all 16 episodes.  And I was blown away by how masterful its storytelling and characterizations are.  For me, it felt like a gloriously excellent composite of the styles, concepts, and structures of Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather, Once Upon a Time in America, Game of Thrones, Sin City, The Highlander, and Snowpiercer.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

'Justice League Action' "Rated G"-izes the DC Universe Perfectly

Late in 2016, Justice League Action debuted and immediately ended up as one of my most favorite TV shows of that year.  Almost two years later, it has just finished its 52-episode first season.  And during that span, it has constantly been charming, funny, and entertaining – one of the best current kid’s cartoons.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

'Black Panther' Has a Sense of Gravitas That I've Never Seen Before in an MCU Movie

Isolated and maintaining no trade relationships, Wakanda is seen by other countries as a poor, backward Third World nation.  However, in truth, Wakanda is rich, self-sufficient, and technologically advanced due to their possession of a special metal called vibranium.  But this is a secret they have successfully kept for centuries from the rest of the world.

Ever since the Wakandan tribes united, the country has been ruled by a long lineage of Black Panthers.  And with the recent death of his father (during the events of Captain America: Civil War), the latest Black Panther, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), takes his rightful place as king.  However, his reign quickly faces a serious complication in Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a dangerous enemy who has a lifelong grudge against Wakanda.