Saturday, April 8, 2017

Power Rangers

I didn't really watch the power rangers growing up, although I have enough familiarity to know of the morphing, the zords and megazord, and the campy-low-fi-martial-arts. In this reboot, we are essentially given the origin story with enough action to allow a franchise to continue on for a few more films. These new rangers begin their team as the millennial breakfast club. They discover the power coins, discover their new power, train, and then save the world. All of this happens with the necessary teen angst over belonging, meaning and friendship. A fun bit of nostalgia with appropriate updates. I can't imagine this ever being a great series. Although, I suppose that it exists at all might prove me wrong... in somebodies eyes...
3 stars (out of 5)

Ghost in the Shell

This movie has taken all kinds of heat for all kinds of reasons, not least of which is a whitewashing backlash for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead. For my own perspective, I have no history with the story or the original material that it is based on. So staying true to original material is irrelevant. The story follows Major (Johansson) along a path of self discovery. She is a member of an elite police unit in future Hong Kong. She is the ultimate cyborg, with only her brain being human. Her journey reveals her past, the process by which she became who she is, and the neurosis of the organization that "saved" her. I found the story interesting, if not compelling. I loved the representation of future Hong Kong, thinking throughout that I was actually glimpsing a possible future, not a writers attempt to be crazy novel. I enjoyed the existential questions that inevitably arise when one puts a human brain into a robot. I really liked this.
4 stars (out of 5)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Killjoys (Serial)

Season 1 & 2

This SyFy channel series follows a team of Killjoys, warrant officers who are formally neutral in any and all politics, who accept jobs to chase down bounties or do deliveries, no questions asked. Well, mostly no questions asked. For flavor, you can compare this to Firefly or its channel mate Dark Matter. It has the same irreverent humor amongst the team, and takes itself just seriously enough to be good science fiction. Set in The Quad, a system with a planet and 3 moons, the team goes about each episode fulfilling a warrant, and finding out more about themselves and their own history. Of course it is dark and sorted. And of course this history places our protagonists at the center of a system wide political conspiracy which could potentially destroy the entire system. Let the fun begin.

4 stars (out of 5)

The Boss

Melissa McCarthy plays a financial guru who is put in prison for insider trading. When she gets out, she connects with her former assistant and stumbles on an opportunity for a new business by competing with the girl scouts to sell cookies. The funny moments here are few and far between. The mean humor is pervasive. The attempts to be meaningful and poignant about relationship and life are forced and fall flat. But I watched the whole thing.
2 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Almost Human (Serial)

Season 1

If everything is derivative, I put this at a cross between Continuum and I, Robot. Set in the future by only 30 years, the opening voiceover says everything you need to know: "Evolving technologies can no longer be regulated". This is quite powerful, and likely quite prescient. I would guess we are not too far from this point, especially in AI and Biotech. In this one season series, we have a police officer John Kennex returning to work after PTSD based on an incident where he walked a lot of people into an ambush. He is mandated to work with an android partner, and get assigned Dorian, a decommissioned model with emotion. What could go wrong? Actually, the two work well together and show that they each have strengths the other needs. In many ways, standard fare buddy cop series. The two have fun insulting each other, but as a view, we always know they care...

3 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fugitive at 17

Apparently one of a series of TV movies "____ at 17" that all seem to be pretty B quality, high channel cable stuff. In this iteration, Holly discovers that her friend was murdered in a club and she is the prime suspect. She is fortunate to be a bystander in a prison break and takes advantage to run herself. Now she can use her formidable hacking skills to track down the real killer. Definitely higher quality the later you watch this, and for me it was a midnight-2am viewing. So... pretty OK...

2 stars (out of 5)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sniffer (Serial)

A Russian made (and set) cop drama where the protagonist is a consultant for the Russian equivalent of the FBI. This consultant has a peculiar condition where he is able to isolate smells and odors (think Monk with a great nose). Couple this talent with the arrogance and deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes and you begin to get the picture. Lot's of peculiar Russia specific flavorings that I am sure that I only see half of.

3 stars (out of 5)