I know, it’s been out for a month, but I’m a little bit late to the party. Right around the fourth of July we were busy, and then we were gone for a weekend, and then I was at GenCon, so we didn’t get around…
I first heard about the original Ultraman when Kristen and I were listening to Ready Player One, at least that I remember. There’s a cool moment with Ultraman and how he works that is talked about in that book. I was surprised when I saw that Netflix had released a new Ultraman show.
Ultraman, the Netflix show, is based off of the same character as the 1966-1967 show from Japan. The original show revolves around aliens attacking earth and until Ultraman shows up, the Science Patrol (yes, it’s called the Science Patrol), are unable to drive back the aliens. Now, it’s the next generation of Ultraman. The Science patrol is still around, but the alien threat is now from aliens who are living on earth. When an alien shows up that was last seen 12 years ago when a plane crashed killing everyone on board, the Science Patrol kicks it up a notch.
The show isn’t all that complex a show plot wise, it’s aliens do something, and the human who is Ultraman shows up and has a moral quandary about he’s doing. And it kind of repeats that trope throughout the show, but it does have some through lines in the show. Especially at the end of the season you get a through line in a few episodes. This isn’t a show that has a ton of major through lines though. You tend to just get two or three episodes that are somewhat tied together. But I think some of that simplicity is what makes the show work. They don’t try and confuse it too much with misdirection upon misdirection.
I think it also works because the style of animation on the show is an interesting 3D anime style animation. It wasn’t something that I thought I’d like, but they do a solid job with it. I do think that there are a few spots where it is rough around the edges, but in some ways, that’s some of the charm of the animation style. You get that billow of smoke that looks solid, but not as good as you thought it was going to be. And since it is based off of something in the 1960’s, not sure how faithfully, having that little bit of feel where it’s trying to do something on the cutting edge is fun. It kind of works with the premise of Ultraman, and you also end up with some 3D animations that are just amazing.
Anime shows often come down to how the voice acting is done, especially in watching a dub. Netflix didn’t really hold back on getting talent for this, which was great. You have Josh Hutcherson voicing the main character and Critical Role cast members Matt Mercer and Liam O’Brien voicing character as well. So you have solid voice acting, and there’s something fun about recognizing voices in an anime, especially when it isn’t just the main few voice actors that you get on many a Funimation dubbed show.
Overall, this is a very fun show. It doesn’t try to be too much and do too much. As Kristen said about it, there’s just something fun about it, and I think that is the best away to describe it. It’s definitely a show for teenagers and adults, but it doesn’t mean that it’s too heavy. And it doesn’t have sex in it really, there’s just alien blood and once in a while human blood and various gore that you see. Even that isn’t too bad compared to what it could have been. And it’s just nice to have that action show where the character is growing that doesn’t end up relying on violence of fan service. So don’t go into it expecting anything that profound or deep, but do expect a good time.
Have you watched Ultraman on Netflix? Did you like the show?
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Time to talk about the newest Netflix show, this time the anthology series, Love, Death, + Robots. It’s an interesting experiment in show making an anthology series, but not just an anthology series, but a completely animated one. Let’s start out by talking about what…
I’m going to try and keep this post as spoiler free as possible. The things I’ll talk about will generally all be available in the trailer or in the first episode. Though, be warned, I will make some comparisons that might give you a bit more of an idea of the s how.
The Rain is a Netflix Original (aka released in the US). The show is a horror/suspense show that leans more on the suspense side of things than it does horror. The show is based in Denmark, so it also has that different feel to the suspense than you get in a lot of shows from the US.
There is something wrong with the rain, it’s killing everyone. Simone, a teenager, and her younger brother are rushed by her father to a bunker hidden out in the forest with their mother. There, they should be safe, but something happens so that both her parents leave her, and she and her brother have to spend time in the bunker. Six years later, with resources running out, they are forced out of the bunker to face the world as it is now.
That’s a brief synopsis of the show. In a lot of ways, it’s a post apocalyptic survivors show. How much humanity have people held onto and how much are they willing to work together. Those are the questions that The Rain tries to answer. But along with that, since we’ve seen that with the Walking Dead, is why is the rain like it is. What’s the mystery surrounding Apollon the company that Simone and Rasmus’s (her younger brother) father worked for and that built the bunkers.
The suspense in the show works really well. You do wonder what is going on, and you wonder who is going to make it throughout the show as you feel uneasy about any of the characters chances of survival. You also get to question the motives of everyone in the show.
I’d compare this to two different shows with how it handles everything. The first is Helix, a show on the SyFy network from a while back. That show was definitely more horror focused, but there was some mystery and suspense around it as they slowly unfolded what was going on. The Rain does something that I feel is similar, but has a tighter more people focused approach to the show. I could toss The Walking Dead into a comparison, but I haven’t seen much of the show, just read the comics, but Dark, another Netflix Original, has a similar atmospheric presence to the show. The pacing of the show tends not to be all that hectic, and the cinematography, while not as good as Dark, and the scoring, again not quite as good as Dark, does a great job of setting the scene and feel for the world.
This does get to the biggest thing that I really love about the show. The pacing of The Rain, and Dark, is so different from your standard American show. While The Rain does wrap up story more so at the end of each episode, there doesn’t feel like the rush that you get from the American shows. You can really sink into the show and just experience it as compared to basically any other show. I think some would say that Game of Thrones does that as well, because it isn’t action focused, but Game of Thrones spreads itself way to thin character wise, and loses a good chunk of the humanity that you get from The Rain. They do it so much with the scoring which tends to be haunting, not grand, which is another thing that feels different than American television shows.
It’s tricky to explain how that experience makes you feel, and for me that was one of the driving forces that made the show really good. The writing on the show is solid, but nothing earth shattering. They do a good job of creating moments for each character. Kristen can attest so the fact that it might not be the most original writing as I’ve been able to predict several things in the show a ways ahead of where they happened at. I don’t consider that a major downside to the show as that tended to be episode focus, and one of them was done to great effect still and amazingly well written.
Another good thing about the show is that the acting is strong. There are no names that you’ll have heard of, but the acting is very good. The writing for the characters is really well done which helps a lot as well. Again, I think some of the characters can venture into stereotypes, but they have enough depth to the character that you can see beyond that. It’s also really interesting to stop and think about the motivations for the characters because you can really break it down and see why the characters might be the bit of a stereotype that they are, for better or worse, basically always worse.
Overall, this is a really well done show. It isn’t without a few little hiccups, but they are over fast, with the exception of one episode that had some very interesting moments in it, but was the most cliched of all the episodes. This could be a tough show for some people to watch because there are some highly emotionally intense moments in the show. There aren’t always a ton of them, but when they do show up it’s very tough to watch. Still, I will recommend this show, because sometimes watching something tough and watching people process through that is very interesting.
Have you watched The Rain? What are your thoughts on it, do you like shows that build up so much through the atmosphere?
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The final of the current Cloverfield movies. Like Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, Cloverfield Paradox goes in a completely different direction than the previous films.
This is, what I would call, the early 2000’s TV Sci-Fi version of Cloverfield. The plot tries to be pretty dramatic with the earth in a power crisis. They need to go into space to test out a machine that would be capable of solving earths power crisis. The best and the brightest are sent up and spend almost two years trying to get it to work while things get worse and worse on earth. Eventually, they get the machine up and running, but something is out of balance and things start to go hay-wire on the space station. Can they figure out what is happening and correct it in time to save earth, or will they all die?
Cloverfield Paradox is weird, and the style is just oddly done. Like I said, it is very reminiscent of an early 2000’s TV movie. The acting isn’t great, the style isn’t great, but it is still pretty enjoyable.There was something about the camera that reminded me of shows like Dark Matter and Helix on SyFy, and while it is kind of enjoyable to watch a movie with that look and feel, it was also kind of disappointing simply because the other Cloverfield movies have been such a high quality and well thought out. Because of that, it doesn’t feel like it quite matches with the rest of the series.
As for the writing, it also has that below par feel as compared to the other Cloverfield films. It is fairly hokey and while they try and keep a level of drama up, it doesn’t work. It also doesn’t help that the acting isn’t able to live up to the writing. Even though the writing isn’t great, there are two characters that are pretty solid, maybe three. Jensen and Monk, played by Elizabeth Debicki and John Ortiz respectively, are two characters that seem to have the most and best motivation and they actually live into that motivation more so than the other characters. Unfortunately, the main character, Hamilton, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is a stiff character that they try and give depth to but it doesn’t work with her acting. Roger Davies, playing Michael and Daniel Bruhl as Schmidt are the other two best acted characters. The one surprisingly poor performance was Chris O’Dowd, from The It Crowd, it wasn’t that it was bad, but this seemed to be more of paycheck role than anything else.
Overall, this is a pretty basic Sci-Fi popcorn flick which isn’t as good as the others. If I didn’t have expectations and hopes for it, and if the Super Bowl teasers hadn’t made it look better, I think I would have been more inclined to enjoy it. It’s too oddly goofy at times and too poorly acted to be anything more than a bridge to what should hopefully be a good fourth and final Cloverfield movie.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Do not read below if you don’t want it spoiled.
I like a lot of the concepts for this movie. The idea of parallel dimensions and possibly even them not being from our Earth is interesting. However, that aspect is kind of glossed over as they look at it. It’s about getting home or then not getting home for the main character, and the motivations are a little bit weak. While it makes sense that they are capable of jumping back into action very quickly, it feels like it is rushed at times and compared to the first two Cloverfield films, in this one the characters aren’t allowed to breath and develop as much. I do think, as I talked about above, a fair amount of that can be attributed to acting as well. But the whole concept of parallel dimensions is something that’s interesting and it opens up a lot of questions for me as I think about it.
The biggest question about this movie, for me, is where does it fit into the Cloverfield universe and timeline. We don’t see monsters much like the first two, until late in the film when we see the typical shot of the giant Cloverfield monster. But that doesn’t help us place it in time. It seems probable that this is a while after the first two Cloverfield films, except for the monster shot. It opens up the possibility that the first two parallel universes they go to, the one where they start and the one which is where they transport to the first time, might be different Earths, because there is the power crisis, and in the first two Cloverfield movies, there isn’t a power crisis. I don’t remember it well enough to remember if it is possible that the last spot they go is truly Earth from the first two movies. It seems more likely that this is 10 to 15 years after the first two movies. But it is definitely open for some speculation as to when and where this one takes place.
Final, more spoilery focused thoughts. Would I watch this again, probably, because it’s part of the Cloverfield movies, but I wouldn’t randomly watch it again as I would with the other Cloverfield movies. I think that this movie gets the acting wrong and the style wrong as compared to the other movies. The slapstick nature at times, such as when Chris O’Dowd’s character loses an arm is just weird as compared to a lot of the rest of the story they are trying to tell. Should you watch it, only if you care to watch all the Cloverfield films.
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