You Can’t Turn it Off and On Again (Black Mirror Season 3 Review)

CHILL OUT. NO SPOILERS HERE

So I only got into watching Black Mirror after stumbling by the trailer for its third season. I only heard about the show and I didn’t really get interested until I saw the trailer. Like most good trailers, it had me thinking “What the fuck did I just watch and where can I watch more of it?”

To any potential viewers, Black Mirror is a British anthology series that is basically what the Twilight Zone would be if the stories were set in the not too distant future and they revolved misusing technology. And WAAAAAY more fucked up.

There are thirteen 44-75 minute episodes as of now and if you’re like me, that is nowhere near enough to keep satisfied. The show’s creator and main writer Charlie Brooker unleashes almost every possible what-can-go-wrong scenario with humanity’s use of technology and does extraordinarily well. If the episodes aren’t unsettling enough, it’s more unsettling because you could definitely see us going down those paths if we’re not careful.

Season 3 has recently come out on Netflix last weekend and after binge watching them (which is mistake that lead to many mixed emotions), I am ready to review them. Being that each episode deals with a different plot and character, I will review each episode in a paragraph or less. Ranking these episodes was a challenge as Season 3 proved to be Black Mirror‘s best season yet. Maybe I’ll do a similar version for seasons 1 and 2, but enough about my future plans!

S3 E1: Nosedive (4.5/5)

Imagine Peeple (that App that lets you rank other people), but taken to the extreme. Now imagine if a low ranking can have real life consequences, now THAT’s scary. Bryce Dallas Howard is our protagonist as Lacie Pound, a young woman who is trying really hard to get everybody to like her for a better ranking. This is definitely one of the funnier episodes in the series as a whole, being that it was also co-written by Rashida Jones and Michael Schur (Parks and Rec anyone?). What I like most about this episode is its critique of society’s obsession with our need of approval from others and vice versa. The humor was also a nice touch which, if you’ve seen the entire series, is not present that often. And yes, I noticed the irony of me ranking an episode about….well, ranking.

S3 E2: Playtest (4.5/5)

A young man traveling the world is hired as a video game tester in hopes of using the money to get back home. I will say this: I did find the idea of VR video games interesting and innovative, but after watching this episode, I’m gonna give it a HARD pass. There’s not much social commentary here, so it’s an episode mostly focused on the paranoia and terror of wondering if what you’re seeing is real or just a simulation. Mixing terror and comedy just right, Playtest will have any gamers crazy enough to try VR Gaming to proceed with caution. Oh and…ALWAYS call your Mother.

S3 E3: Shut Up and Dance (4.9/5)

This and San Junipero are my favorite episodes of the season for the exact opposite reasons. An all-too-real story about a teenager who is blackmailed by hacker who secretly filmed him in his “private time” on his laptop. Alex Lawther’s performance as the teenager is spectacular here, perfectly capturing the anxiety, panic and desperation that one would go through in his situation. But the ending, OH MY GOD, that ending will leave you infuriated and broken but probably not for the reason you’re thinking. If this episode doesn’t get you to put a strip of tape over your laptop camera, I don’t know what will.

S3 E4: San Junipero (5/5)

On the other hand, here’s an episode that made me feel tons better after that soul scorching conclusion in Shut Up and Dance. Here we have love story about a woman searching for her friend in the paradise of, you guessed it, San Junipero. If you’ve noticed by now, most of Black Mirror‘s appeal is the dark outcomes of the story that’ll leave you worried if we are really heading in that direction. This is one episode,however, will make you wish we ARE heading there. The main protagonists (Mackenzie Davis and Gugu MBatha Raw) are perfect together and the story effortlessly combines science fiction, romance and a sense of optimism that’ll just leave a goofy smile on your face by the time it ends. Heaven IS a Place on Earth, am I right!?

S3 E5: Men Against Fire (4/5)

In a future where modern warfare has changed, a soldier begins to experience glitches that mess with his tech that helps him identify enemy targets, as well as his mind. While I did enjoy the story (depending on your definition of “enjoy”) and the cast, my only gripe with this episode is that it was pretty on-the-nose with the social commentary. That, however, doesn’t take away from the message it’s trying to send and how relevant it is now.  Sometimes, you don’t really know who your enemies are unless you open your eyes.

S3 E6: Hated in the Nation (4.75/5)

The longest episode of the season and it uses every minute to good use. A pair of detectives investigate the mysterious death of a journalist, which might be linked to the internet hate she received for an article she wrote. What makes this episode stand out is its take on how easy it is for us to express hate over someone on the internet without considering the consequences. In other words, in a world where anybody can become scrutinized by the internet, shouldn’t the scrutinizers also be punished? In true Black Mirror fashion, the ending is going to leave some jaws on the floor. And if you hate bees, watch with caution.

And that’s Black Mirror Season 3. The whole series is definitely worth a watch. It’s relevant, thought provoking and is total mindfuck.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to contemplate how we as species are doomed by the very thing we created. Have a nice day!

P.S. If you wanna know what the title “Black Mirror” means, turn off your device 😉

Fail-tastic Four (2015 Fantastic Four Review)

WARNING: Bad Puns ahead!
This is why I don’t trust trailers anymore! Like many, I was excited about the newest superhero reboot that is Fantastic Four or Fant4stic as it’s sometimes stylized. UNLIKE many, I actually enjoyed the 2005 Fantastic Four. (Yes, I watched again as a grown man, and I can’t help it. It’s goofy and stupid, but hell, till fun take on the superhero quadrio. Even the 2005 cast looked like they were having a fun time). But that’s The Thing (hehe, get it?)

This film feels kinda joyless and too much origin focused. Here’s the way I described to the theater usher who waited for my honest opinion of the film: It’s pretty much the movie equivalent of the Challenger take-off back in 1986. It starts off great and you get excited, then you spot some problems and think “Well, okay, I’m sure it’s just a misstep”, then you keep watching and you think “Oh come on. You can do better!”, then it keeps going and then you think “Oh God. No! No No No! No No!” and then finally it ends with a big “DAMMIT!! Damn it all!!” Boom! Crash and Burn a like a Human Torch (hehe)

Basically, my mind while watching the film

My biggest gripe with the film is that it could have been so great. The main problem everybody, and myself included, had was that it focused WAY too much on the origins of the team instead of them, you know?, being a team. The origin story takes up about 75% of the film, and by the time it ends, we’re faced with the antagonistic Dr. Doom and you think “Wait! They’re already gonna fight Doom? I thought there would be more!”

It’s basically a good movie that gets stretched (ha!) too long. Were this movie to be trimmed (or maybe chopped) some more it would be passable. Trank tries to make it his movie but you could almost tell where Fox ( the studio behind this film) got their dirty hands on it. Oh Fox, when will you ever learn?

If I had to say one good thing about the movie, it’s that cast were pretty good, but it could have used some more joy or depth into it. One of the fun Things (okay, I’ll stop) about the the team is Ben Grimm (The Thing) and Johnny Storm’s (Human Torch) witty banter with each other. The 2005 film does a great job showing that chemistry. This one….not so much. Maybe just one instance….at the END OF THE MOVIE!!!!

It is for these reasons that I will continue to side with 2005 Fantastic Four. At least with 2005, I wasnt mad that I spent 100 minutes with those characters

One more thing and probably the biggest crime of the movie: NO STAN LEE CAMEO!!!!!

If Cirque du Soleil did car chases, you’d get this movie (Mad Max: Fury Road)

As this is my first review for my new blog, I wanted to avoid from being too enthusiastic about the first film I decided to review; you don’t get a second chance for a first impression. Unfortunately, I decided to choose Mad Max: Fury Road as my film to critique. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be part of such an experience

To understand my view on the Mad Max franchise, I have seen the first two within the last five years and have yet to see Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome. Though I enjoyed the first two films, I wasn’t the biggest Mad Max fan.

So I was happy to see that Fury Road was a stand alone film that anybody could watch and not feel left out of. George Miller, creator of the franchise, totally takes advantage of the Hollywood backup he got for this film ($150 million budget!) to create a colorful and violent feast for the eyes. The film kicks off with the eponymous Max, played superbly by Tom Hardy, being captured by the belligerent cult The War Boys. The War Boys are dictated by Immortan Joe, an intimidating, mask wearing war lord with a breathing problem, but can still rule with an iron fist. Charlize Thereon plays Furiosa, a member of the War Boys, who goes rogue and turns a routine trip for fuel into a car chase for the ages.

Ohhhh boy, the car chases….

I have never been happier to see car chases that are not only exhilarating, but so beautiful that I almost choked up (and I’m not being over preachy). If you love your car chases and adrenaline driven stunts, you will not be disappointed. (Scratch that!) You might have a new addition to your list of favorite action sequences. The best part? CGI is not a dominating presence in said stunts. You heard me! So if you were concerned that Mr. Miller might have lost his ways since the old Mad Max days, have no fear. It’s pretty much an update of the series for the modern times rather than a “new and improved through special effects” sort of film.

Which brings me to any skeptical fans of the franchise…

I understand if you think that the film looks different in style, tone and might lost what made it great in the first place. I get it. I, myself, am usually wary of sequels to a beloved series. But understand this: George Miller has a vision of the universe of Mad Max. If you look it up, the budget for all three films of the trilogy was not very much. (Thunderdome has the most of the three, with only $12 million. Road Warrior had $5 million. The first Mad Max had almost $0.5 million) With budgets like that, Miller was limited to use what he can with those amounts. The universe Fury Road is much grander and detailed, it’s almost like something within him was bottled up inside all those years and now with a budget of $150 million, he can unleashed everything he had. So I ask, please give it a chance

Also, there is a truck equipped with stereo systems with a War Boy playing awesome tunes on the guitar (which shoots FIRE!!!)

Just let that sink in….

Rating: 4.5/5

Most Likely to Love it: Car Chase fanatics, Stunt fanatics, Fanatics fanatics

Most Likely to Hate it: Misogynists (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mad-max-fury-road-when-a-film-upsets-misogynists-it-only-makes-me-want-to-see-it-more-10254227.html)