The Walking Dead – A Beginners Woes

Many great shows have come, and yet most have known when to end. It’s hard to understand how a show like The Walking Dead could still be going, and with plans to continue in spin-offs. I’ve always been under the assumption that a zombie show would see survivors move from place to place looking for security until that security is inevitably breached. I mean how else could it go? Now that the mainline series is coming to an end I thought I would finally see what all the fuss was about. Three seasons in and I don’t understand how this show was a movement. It’s absolutely fine. Season one at least gave the characters an anchor to questions relating to a cure, or hope. With the CDC literally blown up in the finale of season 1 it’s hard to understand where the hope for the characters is in this world.

As I continue watching I’m waiting to be pulled in to a larger arc for the characters. Give me a reason to see them fighting this futile future. If it was me I would have ended my life. And I have to say that the most poignant moment thus far was them choosing to live or die at the CDC when it was to be blown up. If there is a reason for each character to be living I want to see what they are fighting for… because as far as we see it, this is the end of the world.

The show itself lost show creator Frank Darabont midway into season 2 over budget restraints. Understandable as the show did set up something that had a lot of potential at the end of season 1 to staying contained to a farmhouse setting for the entirety of season 2. Popularity grew by the end of season 2 to accommodate a much bigger budget in season 3. It seems as though if Frank Darabont had been given the full control he would have continued to steer the show in the stronger direction he cemented in season 1.

I have to say this is one of the ugliest looking shows on tv. I wish we saw more colour than the bleak saturation that is a constant of the show. The editing of the show itself is odd as they will jump cut from what could have been a more interesting scene than the one that followed. It feels like a budget issue and at times it takes away from the pacing of the show and feels jarring. In the future I may give Fear of the Walking Dead a look and see if it has the same shortcomings.

Overall, unless something changes I’m not sure how long I will continue to watch it for. Maybe the drama will strike me or I will find some characters endearing enough to see their journey play out.

Robert Ring

Na Na Na Na Na Na No Batgirl

You have to admire what the original Superman nailed with tone. They got it right back in 1978. More than a decade later was the first Batman film which had a daring take that gave a very German expressionist look at a comic book film. Next was Spider-Man, and then of course Nolan’s Batman films before these tonal shifts and very different takes become funnelled into two very trite styles by Disney’s Marvel and Warner Bros. DC. Disney has championed the comic book films by copy and pasting the foundation with different genres, a branching narrative and of course the comedy. Warner Bros. on the other hand since Man of Steel has tried to counter act Disney by having films with a darker tone. Warner Bros. for the most part has tried to mirror the success Disney has reached, but for audiences it has been unearned as the films constantly alternate between bad and good. So what can Warner Bros. do?

Warner Bros. parent company was acquired back in 2018 and it seems we’re starting to see the changing of hands over there. Starting last year with HBO Max’s push of having simultaneous theatrical releases being available on the streaming platform day one. This year CW has seen plenty of regular shows axed, including multiple shows in the “Arrowverse“. While there have been many world tragedies, the greatest may be the attention the Depp V Heard case gathered over everything else. Neither came out looking good, Heard especially, and now Aquaman 2 stands to be boycotted by her involvement. Ezra Miller, known for playing The Flash has also been the subject of discourse as allegations pile on him. While Amber Heard plays a supporting role in Aquaman 2, Ezra Miller is the title star of The Flash, and the allegations are serious enough for Warner Bros. to seriously reconsider how they move forward with the project.

It has been announced that Batgirl has been shelved indefinitely, which is rather unusual for a film that is in post production and has already cost an estimated $90 million. Similarly a sequel to Scoob has been shelved. It seems that the case with both films appears to be this middle tier they tried to make for straight to stream films, but the costs they believe are too great, and want to make $40 million dollar films for the service instead. A $90 million price tag is a lot of money, although it is probably close to half of most blockbuster superhero films today, and wouldn’t compete if it’s of subpar quality. Considering how much Warner Bros. is hurting of late its good that they are finally committing to quality, as they’ve spoken to working on a ten year plan for the DC Universe. They’ve talked about plans before and this time appears different as they’re being heavy handed. Hell, I may become interested in comic book films again if they consolidate their plans into pursuing quality superhero films.

So what do we think of the state of Warner Bros.? Are they trying to clean house so they can hit the restart button once they can finally offload Aquaman 2, and The Flash? I sure hope so. However, it is a shame to see Scoob’s sequel be squandered, but we sure don’t need more mediocre superhero films.

Robert Ring

What Remains of Edith Finch

Few games are perfect from front to back.

Three games that I consider perfect are Gone Home, Virginia, and What Remains of Edith Finch. All these games are walking simulators, however Edith Finch is like a vignette of poems.

The story follows Edith Finch as she goes back to her abandoned family house to unearth the secrets buried within. The Finch family have all died in unusual circumstances, as if the family was cursed, and for the majority well before their time. Edith traverses through each room reading the notes and diary entries of her departed family members, and you play out the way they die in the most fantastical of ways. Each story is played bright and cheerfully which is contrasted against the ironic way they die. In light of this you’re playing with a pit in your stomach because you’re not taking the story lightly when it clicks as to how they are going to die. Each story strengthens the game’s greatest achievement, the house. It is layered with clues and mysteries as delve deeper and deeper.

I first played this game five years ago after hearing a lot of positive reviews, and yet the selling point for me was the game length. You can easily complete this game in two to three hours. It requires no challenge, just an unforgettable experience. The PlayStation 5 version released this week and is a free upgrade to owners of the PS4 version, which makes a beautiful game shine even brighter than before. For trophy aficionados there is a platinum this time around that nearly matches the original list.

In another five years I suspect I’ll be ready to play this game again and once more visit the Finch house. Developer Giant Sparrow hasn’t made a game since this game so hopefully we hear of what they’re working on soon, and with any luck it will equal the quality of this one.

What Remains of Edith Finch is a perfect video game that you should check out.. and maybe bring the tissues.

Robert Ring

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein

Looking for a gem on Netflix?

Well, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein may be what you’re looking for. It has everything. It blends comedy, romance, action, and drama all while holding the air with tension the entire time.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a show that begins with an unbeatable shootout against the main character, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin). By seeing the ending we have an expectation that our protagonist is going to do something that will land him in the iron sights of everyones guns. Next we see Vikrant as a normal child at school being pursued by Purva, a powerful politician’s daughter. Vikrant sees Purva as a source of bad luck for him and refuses her attempts at friendship. Many years pass and Purva is a long forgotten memory, as we see Vikrant having just finished college. At this point in Vikrant’s life he has found the love of his life, Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), although their relationship is being hidden as her parents share major political differences to Vikrant’s family. Without a well paying job Vikrant’s father brings him into the politician’s tendrils. Vikrant now finds himself working with Purva (Anchal Singh), who has been counting the days since their last meeting. Every time Vikrant pushes to escape Purva and her family, he is met with life threatening pushback, to him and his loved ones. Finally without his consent he is betrothed to Purva, and this is only the beginning of the story.

This was a show I knew nothing about and decided on it after seeing a preview for it while scrolling Netflix. Sometimes I challenge Netflix shows to captivate me in five minutes before I opt out, and this one certainly did. I finished it over two sessions. Due to the flash forward we see at the start of the show I thought it was going to be a one and done series. However, by the end we don’t see how Vikrant gets to we where we see him at the start. In hindsight it appears that producers saw the potential hit in their hands and opted for a second series to continue the story instead of finishing it off here.

I highly recommend everyone watching this fantastic show.

Robert Ring

Don’t Look Up

Every end of the world movie I adore gives almost no detail as to what will end the world. These movies are more about watching the characters deal with their own existence in the face of a shared extinction. Don’t Look Up spends the entire film talking about the fact that the world is going to end, and barely scratches the surface of the characters. I was hoping for something closer to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and instead we got Mars Attacks.

Don’t Look Up starts with Kate (Jennifer Lawrence) discovering a new comet, which becomes a celebratory event for the observation centre. The celebration ends abruptly as Dr. Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) calculates the size and trek the comet will take towards Earth. Within hours the two are flown to the White House after the revelation that the comet will become a world ending event on impact. President Orlean (Meryl Streep) refuses to take action after hearing the facts as she is more concerned about re-election. So Kate and Dr. Mindy take it upon themselves to get the news out to the media. Roadblock after roadblock, it’s a fight to be heard so action can be taken throughout the movie and essentially the rest of the film.

Kate and Dr. Mindy are the only characters that share any relatable qualities, as everyone else is purely a satire of the role they are playing. It leaves no surprises and doesn’t play as well as I think it’s supposed to. With every one of these roles filled by star power and over the top acting it seemingly resembles Mars Attacks. By the end every character shows so little intelligence, you may wonder if they’re even worth saving.

In the end, Don’t Look Up is just another film about the government not listening, it’s just the stakes are higher in this one. The characters spend the film shouting to be heard, but we just want to know what they are thinking. It’s fine and forgettable after you see it. It would have been good if the material was thought provoking enough to carry conversations about it long after the film, alas it won’t.

Robert Ring

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Ten years after the first Hotel Transylvania we have a fourth and (for now) final instalment. In terms of animated franchises, I have enjoyed this one. For children it’s an animated adventure with monsters, and for adults it’s a parody of the Universal Monster movies. I absolutely chuckle to the jokes that poke fun at holes in each monster everyone has always taken for granted.

Unlike the previous films, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is skipping theatres and is available right now on Amazon Prime Video. This must have cost Amazon a lot, considering the last film grossed over $500 million at the box office. As a new parent this was a good move for both parties as parents are more afraid to take their children out into public during the pandemic which ebbs and flows. You won’t see this happen with Minions 2 however, as that first film grossed over $1 billion at the box office and they’re waiting to recreate that once more.

Transformania once again is about Dracula’s coming to terms with moving on. And this time it’s about him retiring and passing on the hotel to his daughter Mavis, and son-in-law Johnny. Dracula being afraid of the hotel turning into a chaotic “surfer dude” paradise reverses his decision and tells Johnny that it simply cannot happen because Johnny is not a monster. Now we come to the Transformania part of the movie where Johnny succeeds in finding a way to turn into a monster. The device for turning into a monster can also turn monsters into humans. Dracula and most of the Transylvania gang find themselves turned into humans. For what was simple to become human, becomes a quest to reverse.

The transforming gimmick was a great way at making some of the retreading plots feel fresh this time around. The anchor of these films has always been Adam Sandler voicing Dracula, yet you wouldn’t know that he was absent from this film, as well as Kevin James. If it was because of contract disputes he was easy to replace as Sandler has always played Dracula with a somewhat parody voice of Dracula, so it never felt original to begin with. Besides everyone has always used that Dracula voice at every costume party.

Overall Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is another solid entry in the franchise. It doesn’t give a satisfactory end to the franchise as a whole, but who is to say another one won’t be made in a few more years. It’s worth the watch with your family on the weekend for the price of an Amazon Prime Video subscription and they even have the older entries on the service too.

Happy watching,

Robert Ring

10 Movies to Know Me

These are a list of movies that evoke a type of ecstasy from me. I’m so passionate about these films that they help to define my love of cinema.

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Lawrence of Arabia

This is perhaps the most stunning movie ever made. I have no idea how such a movie was made without the use of CGI. It is without a doubt flawless filmmaking.

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The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford

I never heard a peep about this movie until watching it on a whim nearly ten years after its release. More people need to see this film. It’s like watching a haunting poem with one of the best film scores ever.

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

For many years this was my favourite film. Even after tens of viewings the movie retains the spark of director and writer, Shane Black’s darkly comedic voice.

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La La Land

Musicals are so hard to make good. We only see a handful every year if we’re lucky and maybe a great one every few. La La Land is a great one that combines my love of Hollywood with a beautifully devastating love story. It’s just as somber as it is bright.

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Parasite

Every year I become overly attached to one film that I want everyone to see and last year it was Parasite. Parasite may have been the best film of the decade. I am so very glad that it will be seen by more and more people after winning Best Picture this year. Mum’s the word on this one, just see it.

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About Time

This is no ordinary romantic comedy, and it’s deeper than any other. By the end of the movie your chest will tighten as your tears seep. There’s a scene that you will relate to if you’ve had a close bond with a parent. For me it’s my grandfather and it makes it all the more hard to watch.

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Paddington 2

There may be no better family film than this. If this was released this year it would be nominated for Best Picture and perhaps even win because it’s the uplifting film the world needs right now.

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The Wizard of Oz

Take me to the land of Oz anytime. If I was to enter any fantasy world, this is the one. There is nothing to dislike in this beloved classic. It’s always a source of inspiration for me.

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Beauty and the Beast (1991)

As I watch and rank the Disney Animated films, I’m yet to see anything come close to the masterpiece that is Beauty and the Beast.

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Shaun of the Dead

It may not be a scary movie, but it is my favourite horror movie. All the horror trademarks are here and they’re hilarious. I can watch this on repeat, and I do.

What movies define you?

Robert Ring

Kakarot

It’s hard for people to expect new things from a series that has been remade countless times before. What they did this time was give us a definitive remake that tailors almost identically to the anime. The difference with Kakarot is that it has a real soft spot for the original Dragon Ball series and you get to meet countless characters from that series and see what they’re up to in Dragon Ball Z. Being a fan of the original series I loved seeing the likes of Nam, Emperor Pilaf, Android Eight and Launch just kicking about in the world.

In my fifty-five hours with Kakarot, I was able to complete the game to completion, which included the PlayStation Platinum trophy. To put this into perspective that’s almost exactly half the amount of time it would take to watch every episode of Dragon Ball Z. The game covers the four main sagas of the series from the Saiyans, to Freezer, to Cell, and finally to Buu. Notably absent is the Garlic Jr. Saga, but was that really a loss? With a season pass in the works, it will be interesting to find out what additional content gets added, my guess is that they will cover the movies.

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The gameplay of Kakarot is similar to the fighting style and movement in Dragon Ball Xenoverse. The world is a segmented open world full of Z Orbs to collect, side missions and battles throughout. These can be completed between the main missions, although some side missions will lock you out of them if you progress too far in the story making them irrelevant. While the game’s title is called Kakarot, you will play through the story as Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Trunks as well. Depending on where the story goes will determine who you play for the most part until the post-game. There are multiple RPG elements that involve you levelling up your main character, while you can also level up bonus stats by using Soul Emblems.

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The post-game doesn’t have a lot to offer for someone like myself that completed every side quest as they appeared, minus one that I was locked out of. It does let you summon the dragon when you collect the dragon balls to bring back old enemies. There is a Villainous questline that has you tackle very strong enemies that upon finishing lets you tackle a secret boss.

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Every other Dragon Ball Z game has let you relive the epic fights throughout the series in quick succession, but Kakarot allows you to relive the emotion you get gearing up for those epic moments. That difference had me playing this game non-stop. I enjoyed my time with Kakarot and I’m a little sad it’s over. I’ll be sure to check back in when the DLC content releases.

For fans of Dragon Ball Z, this is a must-play, for newcomers, maybe check out some videos of the gameplay first.   

Robert Ring

Available on PS4, XboxOne, and PC

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Marriage Story

Life is full of relationships that at the time feel as if they will last a lifetime. As is natural, things change and people are pulled in different directions. These people we once knew intimately become distant and sometimes better off left as memories. This happens with friends and family, but the one we gamble on is the one we want to spend the rest of our life with. A relationship with a partner you love can go the same way and under the same roof. It’s here where love becomes complicated and leads to the divorcing of two people now out of sync. Divorce easily becomes about two perspectives that turn quickly into two different narratives exaggerating the essence of what was essentially the drifting apart of two people. And this is what Marriage Story is about.

Marriage Story begins with Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) both talking about what they appreciate about the other. They say these things as if they’re still together, but we find they are actually separated. It’s amicable and without bitterness. Nicole moves to LA from their New York home with their son Harry so she can shoot a television pilot. While there people around Nicole move her in the direction of divorce lawyers. So Nicole meets with a divorce lawyer and Charlie, blindsided, gets served with divorce papers. The narrative of Charlie and the narrative of Nicole are presented with drama to which Charlie expresses that he feels like a criminal. The gauntlet gets worse and worse of a cautionary tale that happens to many people every day. This isn’t a story of two people that get together in the end, instead, it’s a look at two people transitioning through the ugliness of divorce. There is a lot of heartfelt moments, mixed with humour and sadness that will keep you endeared all the way to the end.

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Marriage Story is a likely Best Picture candidate for all the right reasons, and Laura Dern seems like a lock for Best Supporting Actress. This film will be healing to anyone that has experienced a divorce. The only successful marriage I’ve known in my years comes from my grandparents. Seeing the divorce of my own parents and many others makes you privy to vile perceptions given from each side. Quite often there is a villain in divorce, yet in Marriage Story I think seeing both perspectives shows it’s just about a relationship that has become distant like ones you’ve possibly experienced yourself.

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Marriage Story is available on Netflix and well worth your time.

Robert Ring

Crawl

Horror is that dime a dozen film genre where there is maybe one out of a hundred exceptional films. It’s a genre that can be experimented with by wannabe filmmakers trying to make a name for themselves, but very few succeed in making a career out of them that people actually like. You can name the few that do it with consistency and I think by now we can add Alexandre Aja to that list. Because Crawl is really quite exceptional.

The premise of Crawl sounds as if it’s been made before, but it’s original. The plot sounds ridiculous, of a gator film in a hurricane. And yet, we are carefully pulled into the story feeling the claustrophobic spaces in the basement as our two protagonists try to outrun and outsmart gators. Even when the ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous third act begins we buy it because the filmmaker cared to make us really believe this world in the beginning. Crawl is a tense film that will inflict jump scare after jump scare on you. It was a great experience when I saw this on the big screen with an audience that was screaming, and it worked just as well again at home.

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Apart from the horror, the story surrounds an estranged father and daughter relationship. The daughter was a champion diver trained by her father to go the distance, but we see that in time the coaching seemed to strain their relationship and she doesn’t seem him until he is in life-threatening danger during the hurricane. This gives us people to care about, which is the hardest thing for most horror movies to give an audience.

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I hope we get more monster films like this that have so much care attached to them. If you happen to catch the special features on the Blu-ray disc you will find the set is almost entirely practical, which blows my mind as I thought for sure it would require plenty of CGI. I recommend checking it out when you’re next looking for a monster movie.

Robert Ring