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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The Adam Project: Possibly Ryan Reynold’s Best Performance

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Pilot Adam Reed, played by Ryan Reynolds, goes back in time to stop the invention of time travel, along the way he encounters his younger self, played by Walker Scobell.

I thought this was the best Ryan Reynolds performance I have seen in a long time, mainly this was due to the fact that he distances himself from his Deadpool-era quips and plays the role in a mostly straight, earnest way. There is a very believable emotional depth to Reynolds’ performance here that really resonates with you.

In that vein, I think the biggest strength of this film is the fact that it wears its heart on it’s sleeve and focuses on family dynamics and emotions between the characters. There are various different dimensions that the film approaches this from such as father-son relations as well as mother-son relations, which is refreshingly modern and fresh. There is also quite a lot of nuance and complexity to the relationship between the two Adams.

The only area wherein I would criticise this film is that its science fiction narrative feels very generic and uninspired, we have all seen this before and as such it remains unsurprising.

Overall, a very sweet and earnest film that is in some ways held back by its science fiction premise.

Pros.

Reynolds

Garner

Ruffalo

The emotion

Cons.

Pacing issues

The premise is fairly been there, done that.   

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Tall Girl: Falling Short On Having Anything Interesting To Say

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another Netflix teen film with a terrible message.

This film is so vapid that it’s character can barely be called puddle deep. Clearly whoever wrote this film is not only widely out of touch, and doesn’t know how social media works and effects teens, but also has never met a teen girl before in their life, as the way the teens behave in this is barely even human.

Another thing that will annoy many about this film is the fact that though the central girl, played by Ava Michelle, has body confidence issues about her height it is just a small scale issue in the scheme of things. In a world were people are often bullied and beaten for their sexual orientation or skin colour, a narrative about a girl being sad because she is tall just comes off as privileged and again out of touch. I could give this film somewhat of a pass if it had something good to say about body confidence by the end of the film, but no the film instead gives out yet more toxic messages and then tries to wrap up.

Everything about this film sucks and honestly Netflix really needs to fire whoever runs their greenlighting process.

Overall, this is why everyone thinks Netflix only makes bad films.

Pros.

It is unintentionally hilarious

Cons.

It has a bad message

It is irritating

All of the characters have clear privilege

It has no depth at all   

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The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window: You’ll Need A Lot Of Wine To Get Through This

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A parody that forgets to parody and becomes what it sets out to mock.

What is this show?

It isn’t quite a comedy, it isn’t quite a thriller, what does it want to be and why do we have to witness it’s journey of self-discovery?

The only reason this gets half marks is because through it all Kirsten Bell is trying her hardest. Through every bad joke, through every dumb twist that the show thinks proves it is better than what it is mocking, and even through the incredibly predictable finale, Bell holds it all together and makes it bearable.

I understand that book based thriller films like The Woman In The Window are bad, but that doesn’t mean the parody of them will be good. No, for the most part this series devolves into simply copying these thrillers and thinking that for some reason it is above them and won’t fall into the same trap, this is obviously not the case and never was going to be.

Moreover, this series doesn’t seem to understand what parody is, admittedly maybe I am comparing it to the Movie films which in my mind are far better stand-ups of what they were trying to spoof than this. The knowing jokes in this show mostly fall flat and feel like the most baseline observational jokes you could write, they could have played up the camp, the strangeness, hell anything to make this better than it is.

Overall, it is watchable and watched as a binge it even has its moments, but it is average at best and if you stop watching it you are unlikely to return.

Pros.

Bell

Riley

Some of the sillier elements

Cons.

It becomes what it is parodying

It is not funny

It is deeply played out   

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Home Team: Adam Sandler Is Even Bringing His Kids Into His Films Now, Will The Nepotism Ever End?

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Adam Sandler’s dependence star in a true story about a disgraced NFL coach, played by Kevin James, who ends up coaching his son’s peewee football team.

This sports film just rehashes cliches, honestly there isn’t much more to say; I could end the review there. To expand, the plot of this film is not just overly familiar it is almost plagiaristic. The beats and forced emotion it is going for, but crucially never achieves, have been done so much better before elsewhere.

Moreover, I get him and Sandler are pals but whoever thought James was a good leading man? Does Sandler? Is that why he gets cast in the lead role in so many of Happy Madison’s productions? To answer some of those questions for you, nepotism is the only way James can get these roles as his talent just isn’t there. Whether playing happy, sad or quizzical James comes across with all the emotional range of a shopping bag.

Overall, it is fine, technically there is nothing wrong with it, however, if you want more than deeply forgettable then you will be left cold and disappointed.

Pros.

It is watchable

Taylor Lautner returns

Cons.

James

It is boring

It is generic

The nepotism is blatant

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The Karen Abroad: Flawed American Exceptionalism And The Use Of Regressive Stereotypes As Shown In Emily In Paris

Written by Luke Barnes

This will be a slightly different post to the ones I normally write. I want to write this as more of an in-depth look at what I think is a major issue within entertainment. American Exceptionalism abroad. Of course I am using the lens of Netflix’s Emily In Paris, a show about an American woman, played by Lilly Collins, who goes to France for a fashion job and the series charts her life there. I am not the first to make these points or come to these conclusions, but Emily In Paris is the embodiment of the faux idea of American Exceptionalism, the examples I give can also be referenced in hundreds of other shows and movies as well.

Upon the end of the show’s first season Emily In Paris got a lot of criticism for some of the issues I am going to bring up, the show then tried to address and change this in the second season which has just aired, but rather than actually fix things it seems like the show has just doubled down on all the things people hate and has flipped the audience off in the process.

To get to my first example from the show, when Emily first arrives in Paris she decides that everything her French co-workers have done is wrong and that only her American way can save the company. One can draw some comparisons to a white saviour narrative arc here however here it is not about race but nationality, this is the American saviour. Of course the natives, The French, are resistance to Emily’s American brilliance but of course she is shown to be right and they are all shown to be incompetent. This backs up the outdated world view that nowhere is as successful or as creative as America and that no company can achieve true success without an American’s help, which is widely insulting, but also embodies American Exceptionalism.

Secondly, Emily makes no effort to learn French or to respect local traditions or customs, this is somewhat remedied  in season two as they make a big point out of showing her trying to learn French. However, even in this capitulation the show is two faced. In the beginning the narrative suggests that Emily doesn’t need to learn French as those around her need to come to her and need to speak English, as by not they are being rude even though it is not an English speaking country. This furthers the entitled air of the show. With the second season having her learning French it is the bare minimum yet the show wants us to worship Emily and revere her for doing it, this shouldn’t be encouraged this should just be a standard, but no, in the world of Emily In Paris if a character doesn’t capitulate to Emily, thereby to America, they are in the wrong.

My final example and perhaps what some might call my smoking gun is the show’s use of stereotypes for the French and later Ukrainian characters. Many America shows carry with them somewhat of a xenophobia perspective, this idea of the American characters being normal and everyone outside of their country being off, bad, or somehow lesser to them. Nowhere is this better shown then in the use of stereotyping, you might see this when American shows portray the Irish as alcoholics, the English as having bad teeth or in the case of Emily In Paris the French as being rude, philanders who can’t keep to Emily’s own moral values. Many French critics have called out this show for its depiction of French people and French culture, as it has been highlighted as damaging and unenlightened. The way the show portrays French people is done as a means to lessen them in the eyes of an American audience, here we have Emily just trying to be nice and the mean foreigner is ignoring her.

Moreover, don’t even get me started on how the show tries to sexually shame the French people by showing them as constantly sleeping around, which of course karen Emily judges, only to later show highly questionable sexual behaviour herself. She sleeps with a minor and the show brushes it off as a joke and even has it be recurring. The hypocrisy is not lost.

In the second season the show changes it target after being called out too much for its depiction of the French and goes after Ukrainian’s, creating a new character who is a walking cliché shown as being a thief and terrified of being deported; if I were Ukrainian I would find that highly insulting. However, you see dear reader that it doesn’t matter where the foreign character is from they have to be brought low so that Emily and by default America can feel good about itself, because at the end of the day that is what American Exceptionalism, as flawed as it is, is all about. A vain effort to ignore all of the systematic issues of their own country by projecting themselves as the best people on the planet, with everyone else left as a stereotype.

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