What have you been watching? Including Doctor Strange, Central Intelligence and X-Men: Apocalypse

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

“We’re now nearing mid-Fall season/mid-Spring season (delete according to the hemisphere of your choice), which means there’s few new shows heading our way”

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! What fool said that?

It’s never going to stop. We’re at peak TV so it’s never going to stop. Help.

In the past week, I’ve reviewed the first few episodes of Chance (US: Hulu), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC America; UK: Netflix), Man With A Plan (US: CBS) and Graves (US: Epix). But that’s not really scratching the surface, since although I’ll be tackling Pure Genius (US: CBS; UK: Universal) and The Great Indoors (US: CBS; UK: ITV2) tomorrow and/or Wednesday, I’m not going to have time this week to make a dent in Amazon’s Good Girls Revolt. I’ve also had no time to watch Channel Zero (US: Syfy; UK: 5*), but since that’s an anthology horror show, I have no qualms in deciding I’m not going to watch it. I’ve also noticed that Young Pope (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) has started in the US, but since it’s already started in the UK, too, you can probably work out for yourselves whether you like it. 

However, good news! I’m away for a couple of days at the end of the week, which means I can start a mid-season cull through the usual simple mechanism of asking myself “Can I be arsed to play catch up with this show when I get back?”

Accordingly, I’m waving goodbye to Kim’s Convenience, No Tomorrow, The Secret Daughter and Speechless, as well as – shock, horror! –  two long-standing regulars! Find out which ones after the jump. Frequency, Lucifer, Timeless and Designated Survivor are also on the endangered list and it’ll just be case of finding out when I get back whether I can be arsed to play catch up with them.

Elsewhere, I’ve passed third episode verdicts on Insecure (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) and Falling Water (US: USA), with Insecure failing to stay on the viewing pile. We’ll see if I can be arsed with Falling Water when I get back.

That means that after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes (that I’ve seen) of Ash vs Evil Dead, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Designated Survivor, Doctor Doctor, Eyewitness, The Flash, Frequency, Hyde and Seek, Impastor, Lucifer, Son of Zorn, Supergirl, Timeless, Travelers and You’re The Worst. I’ve not yet had time to watch the latest Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Eyewitness and Westworld, and since Y Gwyll (Hinterland) and Humans both chose to make a reappearance last night, don’t be too surprised I haven’t manage to watch them, either.

But somehow, I did manage to find time to watch a few movies…

Central Intelligence (2016)
Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson both went to High School together, Hart being the golden boy voted most likely to succeed, Johnson the fat kid everyone picks on. Twenty years later, Hart is an accountant while Johnson is a top CIA agent who needs Hart’s accounting skills to find out who killed his partner (Aaron Paul) and is selling top secret satellite codes. Or is he? Could it be that Johnson is really a traitor, which is why the CIA is out to get him?

Kevin Hart is normally a cast iron guarantee that a bad movie is coming your way and this has all the hallmarks of being Kevin Hart in the kind of movie Adam Sandler rejects as being too low brow. But actually, it’s reasonably funny and smarter than you expect it to be, right down to a crucial Rashomon-esque lift scene. Hart is surprisingly unirritating, too, there’s a jaunty 90s soundtrack, and Johnson manages to do both action and comedy pretty well.

Doctor Strange (2016)
The latest Marvel movie sees arrogant surgeon Benedict Cumberbatch injured in a car accident and unable to operate any more. He heads East and before he knows it, as well as learning how to heal himself, he’s learning magic from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) and her helpers (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong), so that he can fight her former helper Mads Mikkelsen who wants to make everyone immortal… but in a really bad, murderous way.

On the one hand, it’s oftentimes a really visually impressive movie, with echoes of everything from Inception through 2001: A Space Odyssey, as reality warps and the action jumps between universes and dimensions. It’s got a top cast and the script, while treading often cliched ground at times, also channels Eastern philosophies to give us a slightly different take on the usual ‘great evil that must be defeated through brute force’, which is what Marvel normally gives us – squint, in fact, and you can spot a bit of Daoism, a bit of Buddhism and a bit of Kung Fu. Indeed, Mikkelsen is at times almost irrelevant to the larger personal journey that Cumberbatch is undergoing, such is the change in focus.

However, there are various production choices that undermine it all tad. Cumberbatch is saddled with an American accent he really doesn’t need and which affects his performance, fight scenes are endless shakycam and Michael Giacchino’s score is the usual strings-dominant orchestral pieces that rob the movie of the true weirdness it deserves. It’s also not as funny as it thinks it is.

On the whole, pretty good, but could have been better.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Last of the three prequel movies featuring the younger X-Men cast (at least, for now…), with the action shifting to the 80s as an Ancient Egyptian mutant/god comes back to life and decides to wipe the Earth clean of weaker specimens who won’t obey him. He assembles his own team to go and fight the good mutants, which now include young versions of Night Crawler, Jean Grey and Cyclops, as well as the usual usual and some of the characters from X-Men: First Class who didn’t get much/any screentime in X-Men: Days of Future Past. And guess who also shows up…

There’s nothing that new and remarkable about X-Men: Apocalypse, with very little you won’t have seen in either the first three movies or the prequels. But if you haven’t watched those movies, you’ll be wondering about a whole bunch of things the film assumes you already know, so it’s a bit lose-lose. However, the film is good when it’s focused on the more human side of things, whether it’s Jean’s and Cyclops’ romance, Magneto’s family, James McAvoy and Rose Byrne’s 20-year-long romance, and so on, making it a surprisingly decent third act. 

A bit meh, but Bryan Singer’s talents mean it’s not X-Men: Last Stand, for sure.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Doctor Strange, Central Intelligence and X-Men: Apocalypse”

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What have you been watching? Including Falling Water, Hyde and Seek and Westworld

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

Nearly there. Not quite, but nearly. Elsewhere this week, I’ve reviewed Travelers (Canada: Showcase; UK: Netflix), Shoot The Messenger (Canada: CBC) and Eyewitness (US: USA) and passed third-episode verdicts on Frequency (US: The CW; UK: Netflix), No Tomorrow (US: The CW), Westworld (US: HBO; Sky Atlantic) and Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4).

I’ve started watching Graves (US: Epix), so I’ll be putting a review together of the first couple of episodes of that tomorrow and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (US: BBC; UK: Netflix), Chance (US: Hulu) and Channel Zero (US: Syfy; UK: 5*) won’t be far behind it. A third-episode verdict on Insecure (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic) will be in among the mix, too.

Regulars readers will realise that I still haven’t watched Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four), StartUp (US: Crackle) or Divorce (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic). I really will watch Deep Water one day and I might still give StartUp a go, but I think I’ll have to leave Divorce to you guys to discover for yourselves, since TBH, I don’t like the sound of it. Just the title. No.

Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon), Haters Back Off (Netflix) and Easy (Netflix)? Never heard of them. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

I’ve had no time to watch last night’s Son of Zorn or Eyewitness, but after the jump, the regulars: Ash vs Evil Dead, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Doctor Doctor, The Exorcist, Falling Water, The Flash, High Maintenance, Hyde and Seek, Impastor, Kim’s Convenience, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, The Secret Daughter, Supergirl, Westworld and You’re The Worst. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to continue watching all of those, though, so this might be the last week for some of them and it’ll definitely be the last week for at least one. You’ll find out which after the jump.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Falling Water, Hyde and Seek and Westworld”

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What have you been watching? Including Supergirl, Halt and Catch Fire and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

We’re now nearing mid-Fall season/mid-Spring season (delete according to the hemisphere of your choice), which means there’s few new shows heading our way, except in the topsy space-time continuum that is the Internet, where blink and you’ll miss another new show arriving of a Friday. That means I’ve nearly caught up with the backlog.

This week, I should have reviews of Graves (US: Epix), Eyewitness (US: USA), Divorce (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic), Shoot The Messenger (Canada: CBC), and maybe Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four), too.

I’ll also be passing third-episode verdicts on Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic), Frequency (US: The CW; UK: Netflix), No Tomorrow (US: The CW), Timeless (US: NBC) and maybe Hyde & Seek (Australia: Nine).

Outside gambles: reviews of Crisis in Six Scenes (Amazon), Goliath (Amazon), Easy (Netflix), Haters Back Off (Netflix), Offseason (Amazon) and El Marginal (Marginal) (Netflix).

Elsewhere, I’ve already reviewed a whole bunch of Australian shows – Hyde & Seek (Nine), Rosehaven (ABC), The Wrong Girl (Ten) and The Secret Daughter (Seven) – as well as Kim’s Convenience (Canada: CBC) and American Housewife (US: ABC); I’ve also passed a third-episode verdict on This Is Us (US: NBC; UK: Channel 4). 

That means that after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of Ash vs Evil Dead, Designated Survivor, Doctor Doctor, The Exorcist, The Flash, Frequency, High Maintenance, Impastor, Insecure, Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, No Tomorrow, Son of Zorn, Speechless, Timeless and You’re The Worst. I’ll also be looking at the season finale of Halt and Catch Fire, as well as the return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

One of those shows will be getting promoted to recommended. Cool, hey?

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Supergirl, Halt and Catch Fire and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”

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What have you been watching? Including Luke Cage, Arrow, The Flash and Westworld

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

So now I have to apologise. Sorry, Australia. Sorry, UK. Sorry, Internet. I have failed you, as well as a whole bunch of other countries whose TV I ostensibly review but I never quite get round to. 

Oops, I did it again. I’ve got behind. It doesn’t matter that elsewhere in the past week, I’ve reviewed Aftermath (Canada: Space; UK: 5*), Timeless (US: NBC), Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic), Falling Water (US: USA), Conviction (US: ABC; UK: Sky Living), Frequency (US: The CW) and No Tomorrow (US: The CW), as well as passed third- and fourth-episode verdicts on Son of Zorn (US: Fox), High Maintenance (US: HBO), The Good Place (US: NBC), Doctor Doctor (Australia: Nine), Designated Survivor (US: ABC; UK: Netflix), Lethal Weapon (US: Fox; UK: ITV), Speechless (US: ABC) and The Exorcist (US: Fox; UK: Syfy). 

I have failed you.

Oh well. I’m used to failure. Readjusted schedule, then. Some time in the next week or so, I should hopefully be getting through the first few episodes of a whole bunch of Australian TV shows – Hyde & Seek, The Wrong Girl, The Secret Daughter, Deep Water and Rosehaven. As for the US, I should be previewing Epix’s Graves and reviewing HBO’s Divorce. Meanwhile, on the Internet, Netflix’s Easy, Crackle’s Start Up and Amazon’s Crisis in Six Scenes might well be on indefinite hold, but maybe I’ll find the time.

I’ve not yet caught the latest episodes of The Fall and High Maintenance, so after the jump, I’ll be looking over Ash vs Evil Dead, The Good Place, Halt and Catch Fire, Impastor, Lucifer, Westworld and You’re The Worst, as well as the return of Arrow and The Flash. Two of those are for the chop – can you guess which ones?

If you look over all that, you’ll see I did watch an awful lot of TV last week, just not enough. I probably could have watched all of it though if I hadn’t been bogged down with one thing…

Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix)
Netflix and Marvel’s latest ‘Defender’ is a stonking 13 episodes of… not much. Continuing where Marvel’s Jessica Jones left off, it sees Luke Cage head over Harlem way to keep his head down, but when an old friend gets killed, the bulletproof black man has to wade in to help protect the neighbourhood. But then his past begins to catch up with him…

The show sticks pretty closely to the original Luke Cage comics – I’ve read precisely none of them, but if you watch this video, you’ll be caught up on them and know pretty much the whole plot of the first season. But what do we care about plot? Atfer all, Marvel’s Luke Cage doesn’t, being interested mainly in discussing black culture, history and what is the true and correct course of action for the modern black man of honour. Cage, who is a walking encapsulation of every single African-American stereotype and archetype (gang member, son of a preacher, ex-military, a blue collar worker, frequent denizen of social barber shop, lover, prisoner, medical experiment, boxer et al), becomes a nexus point for modern US politics, wandering around town in a hoodie but able to withstand police bullets, he’s able to demonstrate and confront all manner of arguments, while being the perfect role model at all times. Sweet Christmas, he doesn’t even swear. 

And when he’s not doing that, we’re getting a musical interlude down the club, to celebrate black music. Method Man makes a cameo and even raps live about Luke Cage and police brutality. 

Unfortunately, despite a cracking soundtrack and numerous homages to blaxploitation movie, that’s really all the show is, despite a grade A, almost exclusively black cast that includes multiple members of The Wire‘s cast (eg Sonja Sohn), Sons of Anarchy‘s Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodward, Banshee‘s Frankie Faison and House of Cards‘ Mahershala Ali. There’s minimal superhero fun, since Cage basically just wanders into rooms, people shoot at him to zero effect and he then punches them unconscious. Even when Cage’s arch-nemesis shows up, their confrontation seems to drag out across about half the season without much really happening.

If you’re expecting crossovers with the other shows or the movies, I’m afraid beyond the now compulsory appearance of Rosario Dawson and numerous references to the other shows and films, you’re going to be disappointed. At most, they offer only a rehabilitation of Justin Hammer.

And the dialogue. Oh gods, the dialogue.

In a sense, Marvel’s Luke Cage is an important show, offering a uniquely black perspective on the superhero genre, just as Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a uniquely female deconstruction of superheroes. But actually watching it, so little of any real interest happens dramatically that all you can do is admire its heart. And how it managed to slip Cage’s original comic book costume in there. That was impressive.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Luke Cage, Arrow, The Flash and Westworld”

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What have you been watching? Including Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. 

It’s possible that Peak TV peaked last week, given how many more new shows launched, and there’s a few more coming our way this week, too. Last week, I (p)reviewed:

I also passed a third-episode verdict on Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic).

On top of that, later this week, I’ll pretty definitely (well, you know me…) be reviewing:

  • Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
  • Graves (US: Epix)
  • Aftermath (US: Syfy; UK: 5*)
  • Falling Water (US: USA)
  • Deep Water (Australia: SBS; UK: BBC Four)
  • Hyde & Seek (Australia: Nine)
  • Luke Cage (Netflix).

I’ll also definitely be passing third- and fourth-episode verdicts on:

…probably on:

…maybe on:

…and quite improbably on:

Internet streaming services being a little elusive at times in terms of telling you what they’re showing, if I’ve the time (!), I might try to play catch up with Easy (Netflix) and Start Up (Crackle), too, but I suspect they’ll get pushed to next week again. For starters, there’s bound to be other new shows this week that I’ve missed, too – I’m pretty sure Hayley Atwell’s new ABC show Conviction is on the way, but I’m too lazy to check the schedule.

Before all that, though, after the jump, reviews of the latest episodes of Designated Survivor, The Exorcist, Halt and Catch Fire, Lethal Weapon, Notorious, Pitch, Speechless, This is Us and You’re The Worst – if you do a quick bit of correlation with the list of shows above, you’ll probably be able to guess which ones I’m dropping. We also have the return of Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall to entertain us. 

Did I mention I watched a lot of tele this week? Because I did.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Ash vs Evil Dead, Impastor and The Fall”