Lost in Space Review | Netflix’s first authentic foray into Disney territory.

Lost in Space , is not your regular Sci-fi, supernatural Netflix Original. It’s more of a family friendly, time-pass, high-production-value, yet flawed series which makes you feel that somebody made it for Disney and ended up showing it in Netflix. Its a reboot of the 1998 namesake starring, Gary Oldman and honestly this one didn’t fare much better.

Set 30 years into the future, the Earth is now uninhabitable. The story-line follows the Robinsons who are part of a colonization expedition which crash lands on an alien planet and follows this family of five in their fight for survival and getting back on course to the real destination. There are a few other characters as well, since they had to stretch it to 10 episodes worth of material.  Parker Posey as Dr Smith, plays the villain and she is the most confusing character of all ! There are places where she does some silly, ‘evil’ things just for the sake of it. 

In short, this is one Netflix Original for the families. You will enjoy watching this with your kids or if you have to entertain someone else’s kids ! Mediocre acting and shoddy script-writing might make you lose temper at times – if you are watching it alone. The CGI and some of the scenes are breathtaking but half the time you are left clueless on what the end game is, with the villain 🙂

Lilyhammer | Netflix Original | As Good as a Comedy-Crime Drama could get !

Lilyhammer is a fabulous binge-worthy comedy/crime series that popped up in my Netflix feed out of the blue. It starts with the New York mobster and second-in-command,   Frank Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt) getting in line of the cross-hair, when the chief dies and the brother takes over the Mafia. Frank’s dog gets killed and he escapes by the skin of his teeth and before going all John Wick on the perpetrators he decides to do the sensible thing and turn States witness. In return he gets to choose any new identity anywhere in the world. However, he chose to go to Lilyhammer, Norway, as he loved the place when he saw the 94 Winter Olympics on TV and thus begins the adventure. 

Lilyhammer is more of a Norwegian production than an American one and it turns out to be a dark comedy version of The Sopranos and its only fair that Steven got the role. There is not a single dull moment in the entire series as the ex-mobster makes friends (more of partners in crime) in the ever lovable, ice-cold Lilyhammer. Every frame is absolutely postcard worthy  and every single character is a masterpiece in itself. It would be a crime though to not mention Torgeir Lien( Trond Fausa) who plays the dumb, lovable and fiercely loyal second-in-command as Frank tries to build his own Mob base in Lilyhammer. The makers Eilif Skodvin & Anne Bjørnstad deserve a lot of credit as well for churning out something so funny out of an otherwise dark theme.

I would recommend Lilyhammer to anybody who is into Dark comedy and Gangster shows. Watch it with subtitles ON as half of the conversation is in Norwegian – that’s however something you will not complain about. It’s fun, definitely just for adults and a perfect way to wind down after a stressful week at work.

Requiem (2018) | Netflix | Another decent British Supernatural Thriller.

‘Cold case of a missing kid’ seems to be the formula that works the best for most of the British Supernatural Thrillers these days. Requiem , too follows the trend when 23 years later, the case of a toddler who went missing in 1994 comes into limelight. The series begins in breathtaking pace and the subsequent episodes somehow goes meandering and is unable to keep up with the brilliant beginning.  It’s definitely not as good as DarkThe Five or Broadchurch but definitely better than 1922 and Collateral.

The series begins with an old man in a small Welsh Village commits suicide, followed by another suicide in London of the mother of a rising Cello star Matilda Gray (Lydia Wilson) right in front of her. The element of supernatural is laden in the very first shots itself. Matilda and her friend Hal Fine(Joel Fry) travels to the Welsh Village in search of the truth following the few clues left behind by her mother. The remainder of the season is all about the mystery of the two suicides, the missing kid and village filled with secrets. 

There are so many good things going on about Requiem including the very beautiful locations in Wales. The nature in itself casts its eerie shadow throughout adding to the mood of the series. The cast does a decent job and background music is very riveting. I do, however, think that the makers missed a trick by dragging the series on for 6 episodes. They could have wrapped it all up in 4 and could have made a much more entertaining watch out of it. The series did remind me of <Movie Name Spoiler !  > and was a bit too predictable in the end. In short its a decent one time watch if you are into thrillers belonging to the supernatural genre.

The Outsider | Netflix Original | Slammed by the critics, loved by us

The Outsider (Gaijin), starring Jared Leto, is the latest addition to those Netflix Originals that was slammed by most of the critics and yet turned out to be an enjoyable watch for me. This Netflix Original tries to experiment with the less talk and more acting type of storytelling which is not often seen in the genre of crime thrillers. For an out and out Jared Leto movie, The Outsider is more than 70% Japanese .

The movie follows the story of an American soldier imprisoned in post-war Japan who enters the Japanese Mob Family, Yakuza after befriending one of them while in prison. The support cast of Tadanobu AsanoKippei Shîna and Shioli Kutsuna are amazing throughout but no gaze goes past the intensity of Nick Lowell, portrayed by Jared Leto. The intensity and honestly he brings to his character is beyond words. The story telling style and the exhaustive usage of Japanese in the movie makes it difficult to convert ‘The Outsider’ into a fast paced thriller that it could have been. 

The way the movie ended was a bit anticlimactic and was open ended, probably with the intention of bringing out a part 2. I would go with the title ‘The Insider’ for part two though. I would recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of Jared Leto and likes slow-burn crime drama’s.  Do not expect any classic dialogues as the dialogues itself are few and far between.

From the wife: Jared Leto has always been an intense actor. I feel he has done justice to the role. He has perfected the expression for pain, rage and dark amusement. You cannot help but feel sorry for the character even though some part of you is telling you that the character is part of local mob and does not deserve your sympathy. Watch it for Jared Leto and his incredible performance.

 

Collateral | Netflix Limited Series | A British mystery with more drama than thrills.

Collateral (2018), is a  new four part limited mini-series that was made by BBC and presented to the rest of the world as a Netflix Original. We were thoroughly intrigued by the trailer which promised a lot with the stellar cast. The 4 episodes of this mini series occur over four consecutive days. They have tried to address too many issues in this short mini series, which in my opinion might have muddles the waters a bit. Carey Mulligan as DI Kip Gillespe, Jeany Spark as Major Sandrine Shaw, John Simm as MP David Mars and Nicola Walker (one of my favorite mini screen actors) as a gay clergy were stellar in their roles. 

The series has bits about the pains of a homecoming soldier, the desperation of the refugees fleeing from their terror riddled home countries, drug abuse amongst young mothers,  LGBT acceptance amongst the English clergy, rank abusing Army superiors and the immigration stance that has ravaged all developed nations. They have bitten off more than can chew and it becomes glaringly obvious when you watch the characters struggle with their problems.

To summarize, I would say its a decent watch which promised a lot more than it eventually delivered. Too many issues and too little a screen time (and yet there were a few boring fleeting moments in between) might have acted against in making this an exceptional watch. Its a nice enough watch but nothing earth shattering.

Mute | Netflix Original Movie | Barely watchable futuristic thriller.

Netflix has pretty much everything about the future sorted out and ready for us to witness. Mute follows the story of  Leo Beiler (Alexander Skarsgård) who is a mute bartender who goes in search for his missing girlfriend (Nadiraah- played by Seyneb Saleh) and Skarsgård is probably the only good thing about the whole movie. The story is set 40 years into the future in Berlin, which is filled with immigrants where all cultures collide. I had read somewhere that the film took the makers 10 odd years to complete and the end product did leave you with a lot of questions and ‘meh’ moments.

Paul Rudd , too put in a pretty good shift as one of the two cocky American surgeons who makes quick bucks by sewing up mob henchmen who get injured in ‘the line of duty’. The first few minutes were intriguing and as the story evolved I was left wondering what the end game was.  The plot is predictable, dialogues uninteresting and  the premises an odd juxtaposition of retro cars, contemporary technologies in a modern/old city ! 

I did want to like this movie but truth be told, it never ever lived up to the expectation and barring the stellar performance put in by Skarsgård , I might not have survived the 2 hour ordeal. 

The Ritual | Netflix Original | It’s always a decent horror-thriller when there is good acting, average CGI and good cinematography.

The important things first, there is nothing special about this Netflix Original and there is no way this movie is going to be discussed over lunch the next day.  The movie is predictable through and through (aren’t most of the horror flicks so ?) and it ends up being a good time pass watch.

The Ritual , begins with 4 friends reuniting 6 months after the tragic death of their friend , Robert. It was Robert’s idea to go trekking in Northern Sweden to explore the Scandinavian wilderness. Luke (Rafe Spall), the main protagonist,  had witnessed the murder of his friend and was carrying the guilt throughout with him, while the other friends although not visibly, carried an animosity towards Luke over the incident. 

The movie is quite gripping over the first hour or so but then slowly fizzles out towards the end.  The performances of the lead quartet definitely works in favor of the movie when compared to the other over-the-top, underwhelming performances put up by regular medium budget horror movies. The setting for the film was perfect with the great Swedish wilderness quite stunning in itself with every frame. It’s a photographers dream but the person within the photographer would struggle to shrug off the eeriness.

On the whole, this is a pretty decent one time match. Its not a match to Dark or Stranger Things but would score well above the recent Jigsaw and Rings.

Parks and Recreation | Netflix | One of the best modern Sitcoms

I was probably very late to the party when I had started watching Parks and Recreation . A failed attempt at ‘The Office’ and ‘Arrested Development’ meant that I had almost lost faith on there being another binge-worthy sitcom among the modern day contenders. It was without much of an expectation that I started watching Parks and Rec and the low expectations probably went a long way in me ending up liking the series.

Parks and Rec is centered around the very ambitious Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) who is a Deputy Director at The Parks and Recreation in a small town, Pawnee, Indiana and her colleagues. The series stars at a very slow pace with the introduction to characters taking its own sweet time. Leslie, is a hard-working, passionate, self-driven lady who wants to help everyone around her. Nick Offerman plays the government hating, privacy loving, steak loving, ‘hard-working’ head of the Parks and Rec department , Ron Swanson who also happens to be the boss off Leslie. He carries his contempt for human company and modernism throughout the series and that makes him a special character. Aubrey Plaza plays April Ludgate who is a socially awkward, brilliant, yet lazy intern and Chris Pratt (the reason I started watching the series in the first place) plays Andy Dwyer the lovable, dumb, fun loving wannabe rockstar of the ‘Mouserat’ band – some of the scenes involving him made me literally fall on the floor laughing. Aziz Ansari plays the tech-savvy, ‘stylish’ and hip Tom Haverford who feels and knows he is meant for big things but would never work for it. The epitome of coolness  Donna Meagle  played by Retta and Jerry Gergich (Jim O’Heirthe simpleton and the guy on whom the rest of his office picks on all the time for very little fault of his forms the rest of the Parks and Rec department. The wonderful and beautiful Rashida Jones who plays Ann Perkins the best friend of Leslie and probably the lynchpin surrounding whom the whole series waltz around forms a wonderful partnership with Amy her troops. Adam Scott and Rob Lowe comes in at a later stage to add more fun to the whole series.

There is this massive list of guest super-stars including Paul Rudd, JK Simmons, Sam Elliot, Senator John McCain, Heidi Klum, John Ham, Michelle Obama, Ginuwine, Andy Samberg, Chris Bosh, Kristen Bell and my favorite Joe Biden, if the previous para did not intrigue you enough.

It’s on the cuteness and fun scale that the show scores over many of its challengers. When ‘The Office’ borderlines awkward, Parks and Rec scores due to its genuineness. Its all about how Leslie is hell bent on bringing happiness for the people in her life, even if it means that at times she takes the decisions for them or she quashes their decisions for them. Every character is a sea apart for one another in the way they view life and go about with their life but then they all gel so well together as one cohesive unit that makes the Parks and Rec a jamboree of happiness and fun. There are some filler episodes in between that can be expected even in the best of the sit-coms (except Friends of course!) but I thoroughly enjoyed binge watching the fun team of Parks and Recreation and would definitely recommend it to everyone (especially since its now available in Netflix) who wants to just sit back and relax after a tough day at work.

Dark | Netflix Original | Spine-tingling, gripping and one of the best takes on Time Warp.

If Netflix ever were a Football Club, they would easily annihilate every single one of their opponents and would owe that all to their ridiculously good scouting network. The gems they unearth and produce around the globe is truly awe inspiring. It was only logical that I followed up Bright with Dark. 😉 Dark , for me, is the best ever mystery series to deal with time warp and the paranormal/supernatural. It obviously has to be if you end up binge-watching a series till 6 in the morning. Yet, the Season conclusion left me with more questions than answers (I hate it when the makers do that). We would have probably paused a hundred times in between all that to discuss and digest what we had just seen. Blink and you miss something significant.

The series begins with the Einstein quote ‘The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion’ and from then its all an illusion. The story surrounds the disappearance of young kids (too many of them these days – The Five , BroadchurchStranger Things. et all ) from a  German town Winden and a young father commits suicide leaving his son Jonas Kahnwald with no answers. Ulrich Nielsen, the cop father of the young boy Mikel who goes missing, Charlotte Doppler the police chief & Hannah Kahnwald, the wife of the ‘young father’ form the crux of the story which spans over 3 periods – 2019, 1986 and 1953. This is pretty much all that I could give in summary without going into any of the spoilers and this is where i leave it.

Everything from the direction, cinematography, locations, BGM, story and characters are all top notch. The makers Baran bo Odar, and Jantje Friese takes you along on a ride that you wish never ended and at the same time gave you at least some of the answers to the million questions that formed in your head while watching the series. To summarize, it’s a masterpiece from Germany and if you can look beyond the obvious flaws of a some of the dialogues that were lost in translation, while dubbing and the ridiculously irritating open-ended season conclusion, you are in for a thrilling experience.

4.5/5 from my side. The 0.5 deduction was for making us wait for a season to get some of the answers.

Bright | Netflix | An awesome idea, decently executed and opens up the avenue for a future franchise.

Will Smith & Joel Edgerton star in this modern day adaptation of a world where Orcs, Elves, Humans and fairies all live together. Each fighting their own demons and at the same time despising the other kinds to extreme ends. To add to the mix, there is a bit of magic and a possibility of a big bad monster as well.  Netflix must keep on experimenting and spending money and resources on stuff like these. The makers did a better job with Bright  when compared to Suicide Squad  and it was certainly on par with End of Watch.

Will Smith stars as LAPD Officer Daryl Ward , who is back in duty after being shot by an Orc while his partner and first ever Orc to be part of the LAPD force Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton) was with him. Like almost all other mystical worlds this story too surrounds a prophesy where a rogue Elf (Leilah) who is part of the Inferni, tries to get her hands on three magic wands that would resurrect the dark lord. There are references to a war fought 2000 years ago where the Elves and Humans fought side by side against the Dark Lord who had the Orcs on his side (that sort of explains why the different races hate each other). Without going too much into the story, the movie is about the two officers and their fight to protect an Elf – Tikka (Lucy Fry) and the wand (the power of which is  infinite) she wields which the Inferni and the rest of the evil world wants. The wand however can be wielded only by the Bright – those who would not be burned to ash upon holding the wand.  

The movie scores well on comedy, action and theme. There are a few confusing elements which I think would probably be explained in the future parts of the franchise (one can always hope). Will Smith as always is super with his comic timing and some of the dialogues although thrown in during intense scenes would have you in splits of laughter. Reminded me of the good old days of MIB and Wild Wild West.  I think the critics who had slammed this movie prior to its release got it wrong big time. Its not without its fair share of flaws but I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to all Netflix fans (I think that should be a thing already) and the fans of mystical fiction. 

3.5/5 from me.