The Man From Toronto: Don’t Mistake This Film For A Better One

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A chap, played by Kevin Hart, out for a nice romantic getaway with his significant other, played by Jasmine Matthews, becomes wrapped up in a world of hitmen when he falls prey to a case of mistaken identity.

This movie is a turd, but make no mistake it is not Kevin Hart’s fault. If it were not for Hart this film would get a lot lower, and I mean a lot. Hart does provide the film with a number of laughs and makes getting through it slightly less excruciating and for that I thank him.

That aside, this is why Netflix is in hot water, yet another stupid pointless action film that does nothing new and thinks that by just throwing famous faces into whacky situations it makes a film good; it takes far more than that. The whole premise of this film is incredibly familiar, but it is not even as though Netflix is ripping off other better action films, no, it feels like Netflix are ripping off their own back catalogue. Moreover, the idea of the soft guy teaming up with the tough guy, here played by a very much phoning it in Woody Harrelson, is more than a little stale at this point. Really this film is peak generic, that is probably the best and most succinct way to describe it .  

Overall, yet more terrible Netflix fare slightly elevated by Kevin Hart

Pros.

Hart

It is watchable

Cons.

It is generic

It has been done better before

It is Netflix plagiarising themselves

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The Starling: A Favourite Film Of Guantanamo Bay

0.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A couple cope after the sudden death of their child.

Boy this film was badly on quite a number of different levels. However, I think one of the roots causes of this film being awful was the casting of Melissa McCarthy. Some people would argue that like Adam Sandler that McCarthy cam be good in the odd dramatic role here and there, the same people would point to her performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me? However, I would argue that her performance in that film was nothing more than a fluke, and that by and large she is only capable of giving one kind of performance loud and obnoxious, and that is true in whatever film she is in comedic or dramatic. It certainly is true here.

It has to be said though that the failings of this film cannot be entirely blamed on McCarthy, as the script is also frequently terrible, being not only overly sentimental but also incredibly tonally off at times. There is a scene in this film wherein the message seems to be that it is okay to be angry at suicidal people for being that way which sends a hell of a bad message even if that is not how the writer intended it to come across.

Overall, the film is incredibly generic, it is the very definition of the kind of trash we have collectively come to expect from a Netflix original over the years.

Pros.

Timothy Olyphant is always great and a welcome presences

Cons.

McCarthy

It is very generic

It has a bad message

The tone is all wrong

It borders over-sentimentality

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Gods Favourite Idiot: Possibly The Antichrist

0/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Clark, played by Ben Falcone, is hit by angelic lighting and later told that he is to be God’s messenger tasked with stopping the apocalypse.

This is hot garbage don’t watch it.

In the not too distant past Netflix made a statement which basically boiled down to they were going to focus on making quality programs rather than lots of trash, did this show miss that memo?

If you thought the films made by Ben Falcone and his wife Melissa McCarthy were bad then boy howdy you haven’t seen anything yet. With one of their films you at least get the reprieve that it is only on for two hours tops, however, this is on for a lot longer and wants you to feel every horrible minute of it.

There are so many ways in which this show sucks, such as having the comedy be lazy, bland and dry. Think about a Melissa McCarthy film from the last ten years, think about the kind of jokes you would expect and then turn it up to the max. Not only does this show stretch its jokes so thin that it kills them but it is also trying so hard to be funny and to appeal to younger audiences that It just comes off as desperate.

Worst yet neither of the two central characters are in any way likeable, Falcone’s Clark is incredibly bland and feels like a cliché of the timid man in almost every sense, whereas McCarthy is driving around a modified rascal shouting at people and demanding special treatment from those around her… Need I say more?

Overall, awful, just awful.

Pros.

None

Cons.

McCarthy

Falcone

It isn’t funny

The characters are deeply unlikeable

It is terribly paced

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The Pentaverate: Mike Myers Enters The Culture War

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

5 men run a nice secret society that tries to help the world this is their story.

I am a big fan of Mike Myers and was looking forward to this series for a while, but sadly when I came around to watch it I found it to be far from perfect.

My major issue with the show is its final episode and ending, in which all the white male characters literally kill themselves for the sake of making the secret society more diverse and representational. This is the most obnoxiously on the nose thing I have seen in a while and feels like you are having a message forced down your throat. I thought the point of advocating for wider representation within media was to bring more chairs to the table not to remove them? Maybe I misunderstood.

The reason I am leading with that is because it really ruins what is otherwise a mostly good run. The first 5 episodes are all funny, charming and very watchable. There is a lot to enjoy here from the Jeremy Irons’ intros and the Shrek reference to the Key and Peele joke. I do think however, that killing off Keegan-Michael Key so early into the series was a bad idea as Ken Jeong is a poor replacement.

The humour on the whole is more hit than miss which I suppose is an achievement for a Netflix comedy series.

Overall, if you watch the first 5 episodes on their own then this show is quite good however sadly the final episode ruins the series in a major way by making the whole thing about spreading a message.

Pros.

It is funny

It is a mostly good showing for Myers

It is very creative

Cons.

The message is forced down your throat

Some outdated takes about the internet

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Senior Year: Is Rebel Wilson The Female James Corden?

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Rebel Wilson plays a seventeen year old who falls into a coma after a cheerleading accident waking up 20 years into the future and having to go back to finish off her senior year.

Prior to watching this I thought it was going to be trash, almost every red flag a film can give you was presented up front, a Netflix original, an adult going back to high school, cliched teens and finally the fact it starred Rebel Wilson. However, once I started watching it I actually found myself somewhat enjoying it and thinking that it wasn’t all bad at all.

The things I enjoyed were three fold, I thought the sentimentality was just right and that it managed to nail the emotional appeal it was going for, I also thought bringing back Alicia Silverstone, of Clueless fame, to play Wilson’s characters prom queen icon who has fallen on hard times was a stroke of genius, and finally the film features Sam Richardson it is very hard to go wrong with him.

However, by no means was this a great or even particularly good film. The mean girls rivalry between Wilson’s character and Zoe Chao’s Tiffany felt forced in and cliched. Moreover, the teen characters who become Wilson’s friends are all incredibly insufferable, they make constant references to contemporary political issues, social media and what it is not okay to say: to make matters even more on the nose in the final scene of the film one of these kids say that they are going to run for office- I groaned louder then I ever have in my life. I truly believe the trio of ageing male writers who put this screenplay together have no idea how kids talk, what they are interested in, or that not every single member of Gen Z is an activist.

Don’t even get me started on the ending dance number that feels like a throwback for the all the wrong reasons.

Overall, not as bad as you are expecting but still not strong.

Pros.

The sentimentality

Silverstone

Richardson

Cons.

All the teen characters

The ending dance number    

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The Silverton Siege: What The Mummy Gets Up To On His Off Days

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Loosely based on real world events, this film sees 3 young South African self-described freedom fighters hold a bank hostage whilst demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.

I thought for the most part this film was quite strong. It had good stakes and never let the tension slow down, by not having any respites or lulls in side stories or God forbid comedic relief this film allowed itself to be constantly engaging and intriguing.

Moreover, I thought the performances across the board were strong, I would not say there was a single weak performer. Thabo Rametsi was a compelling lead who really sold the struggle and inner turmoil of the character he was playing. Arnold Vosloo was also magnificent in his role and really brought something to the film.

I thought the social commentary of the film worked for the most part, however, in some areas it was laid on pretty heavily and as such felt a little clumsy. It certainly raised awareness and made me think a lot more about that time and place in world history, but I do think the writing could have been a bit stronger in this regard.

Overall, an above average Netflix film but certainly not something that will set the world on fire.

Pros.

Rametsi

Vosloo

The tension

Cons.

The social commentary is a bit too in your face and obvious

Pacing issues

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The Decline Of Netflix: Is Netflix The New Blockbuster?

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about the apparent fall of Netflix that many outlets are talking about: stemming from the fact that Netflix seems on course to lose 2 million subscribers this quarter and has a plunging stock price.

Do I think Netflix is dying? No not a chance, all of this would have been predicted. Do I think Netflix will remain the king of streaming? Well that I think is where things get interesting.

My short version of what I think are the ills currently facing Netflix boils down to 3 things, firstly they are extortionately expensive, secondly either due to complacency or maybe covid they have a serious lack of good new original content and are filling the service with cheap reality shows, and finally a lot of people cared about the Defenders show and now they have moved to Disney + the audience has gone with them.

Some people are angry that Netflix cancels a lot of their shows after just one or two seasons, however, I don’t think that is as big an issue for them as others think it is. A lot of other streaming services and networks do the same thing and people still watch them, this is not a new issue to Netflix.

I think the most egregious issue with Netflix is that they are no longer consumer friendly, they have lost the trust of the average viewer. They did this by jacking up the price to obscene levels apparently in order to make new programming, though a lot of those shows have yet to materialise, moreover they are trying to crack down on people password sharing and watching through VPNs. This crackdown is not in Netflix’s best interest at all, they need to do what they can to help people out during this period of financial insecurity, not trying to track down who is using whose Netflix account so they can make a few extra bucks, that leaves a bad taste. Moreover, the crackdown on VPNs doesn’t even effect their profit margin so it makes no sense to go after them unless its for legal reasons around copyright.

Furthermore, and perhaps most troubling of all a lot of the solutions it is rumoured that Netflix is considering will make the experience worse for everyone and certainly won’t help gain them any new fans. Firstly, there is the cheaper ad supported tier, which many look at with derision as it would be better for them to roll back the price of their memberships at least in the short term but no instead they are bringing in ads. The move to ads doesn’t look consumer friendly again it looks like Netflix is trying to fleece people. Secondly there are rumours that Netflix are considering doing away with bingeable releases and are instead considering going weekly, I think this will cost them as then they will just be like everybody else, they will lose any kind of originality. Additionally then a question has to be asked is it even Netflix anymore, because ads and weekly releases sounds an awful lot like standard cable TV.

What should Netflix do then? I hear you ask, well if I were them I would eat the loss and roll back prices for the next year or two to get people back in the door, then I would bring back popular but niche series for specials or shorter closing seasons to get the fans back and to give them closure, which will then generate interest and good word of mouth. I would make less content overall to save on cost as Netflix’s issue all along has been quantity over quality, and finally I would leave password sharing well enough alone.

Oh and I would ditch the gaming division that was always a terrible decision, stop spreading yourself thin and focus on making good shows and movies.

Ultimately, Netflix isn’t dying, or dead, or going away likely for a long time, but it is hurting. I think this is a result of hubris, of Netflix thinking they can take the consumer for a ride and that the consumer would go along with it because Netflix is the king of streaming, and years ago this might have made sense but now people have options and Netflix needs to get with the program and listen to viewers.  

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The Bubble: Actors Have It So Hard

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of actors are placed in a bubble during a film shoot in the pandemic, hijinks ensue.

So, I don’t think this film deserves a lot of the hate it is getting online, yes it is by no means a perfect picture, we’ll get to that, but it does have a lot going for it, including quite a few funny jokes that land well and great performances from Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Peter Serafinowicz and surprisingly Daisy Ridley.

I also enjoyed the craziness of the film and applaud the fact that it raised itself above simply a parody of our recent past and actually went somewhere original beyond that, it would have been very easy to just comment on the different stages of the pandemic and cover the main talking points of them but thankfully this film did more than that.

However, that is where the praise ends. I do think it is far, far too soon for films about the pandemic, not just for the fact that it represents a still open wound for a lot of folks, especially those who lost people, but also because most have become so apathetic towards anything regarding covid that it can be a turn off when it comes to films and TV shows based around it.

Moreover, the area where this film lost major points for me was in everything to do with Iris Apatow’s character. Now we can’t really move beyond the fact that Iris was only cast because of nepotism, as there simply is no other explanation for her presence in this film, her performance is easily the weakest of the whole film and can be described as distractingly bad at times.  In addition, though this is not Iris’ fault, her character is written to be such a bad cliché of how older generations view Gen Z that it goes beyond cringe to the point of suggesting just how out of touch Judd Apatow and Pam Brady are.

Finally, yet another reason parts of this film suck, which ties back into my last point, is how obsessed with Tik Tok it is, this film has multiple Tik Tok dance scenes which only serve to reinforce my earlier point that Apatow and Brady are badly out of touch and think that the only definable characteristics of young people today is the fact they like and use Tik Tok which is just lazy. The references to Tik Tok start out annoying and unwanted and only get more so.

Overall, better than a lot of the 1 star reviews will have you believe, but certainly nowhere near good.

Pros.

Gillian, Pascal, Serafinowicz, Ridley

Becoming more than just a parody

A number of funny jokes

Cons.

Everything to do with the Krystal character

The Tik Tok references

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The Witcher Season Two: The Grey Tide Of Netflix’s Efforts Into Fantasy, How Not To Adapt.

Written by Luke Barnes

In a break from my reviewing tradition I want to take a minute today to talk about season two of the Witcher on Netflix, and why I couldn’t make it to the end of it despite being a fan of the books and the games.

So straight off the bat we have to debate whether this show even is the Witcher, like it is called that and has characters which bare the same names as those who appear in the books and the games but in most other ways it is devoid of the wider franchise and feels far closer to generic fantasy. Whether it is the fact that show choose to cut out so, so much from the books or the fact it changes so much of what it does keep there is just something about this show that just doesn’t feel like the Witcher to me.

Clearly this show is hell bent on appealing to the Twitter brigade, we all know who I am talking about, they have race swapped a number of key characters and are constantly queer baiting a relationship between Geralt, played by Henry Cavil, and Jaskier, played by Joey Batey. I am surprised more people aren’t annoyed about the queer baiting on this show as it is quite obviously leading to nothing and is a poor stand in for any real LGBTQ+ representation on the show. Moreover, the race swaps could have been used well, maybe even played some sort of role in the new story the show wants to tell, but no, they were done for no reason other than for the people behind the show to preach about how diverse their cast is. Yikes.

In addition, the effects are often quite poor, yes every now and again they get one sequence where the effects come together well but more often then not it doesn’t work. This might sound bias against Netflix, which is humorous as many people have called me a Netflix shill in the past, but there is a hue of their trademark cheapness to this show that really shows up more often than it should.

The scene that finally killed this show for me was when Eskel, played by Basil Eidenbenz, was turned into a monster and killed just for the random shock value of it despite only just being introduced and being important in the wider lore. They could have handled this scene in any number of better ways but they did it to prove their independence from the successful books the show is based on and show how there is no element of Sapkowski’s universe that this show won’t ruin.

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Rescued By Ruby: Netflix Goes For The Pure Flix Crowd

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another dog film.

This is trash quite frankly. Netflix wonders why it is slipping behind the other streaming services and losing more and more customers well this is why, for a subscription to one of the most expensive streaming services on the market, which has just put its prices up, to be making this kind of bargain bin content is frankly insulting to customers. I have a strong belief that over the coming decade Netflix will be outpaced, outflanked and ultimately fade into obscurity unless they change their act.

Such is the poor quality of this film that I thought for sure it was a Pure Flix release, in many ways this film has a lot of the same imagery and moments as one of those uber Christian films: maybe there has been a mix up?

Moreover, this film highlights to the nth degree how lucky Grant Gustin is to have The Flash to fall back on as this film proves without any doubt that he can’t act, and lacks any kind of leading man charm. If I were Gustin I would be hoping with all my might that The Flash gets picked up for another 5 seasons as there aren’t any other offers coming in.

Overall, it almost feels like Netflix is trying to force me to cancel my subscription.

Pros.

People like dogs

Cons.

It feels like a Pure Flix film  

Gustin

It is dull and tedious to get through

Everything about it is deeply cliched

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