Watchin’ Stuff #33

The movie of the week isn’t a movie at all, but instead goes to NetFlix’s new Lost In Space series, though in a way it only got here by default because nothing else I saw this week particularly stood out. It has a really strong beginning due to Neil Marshall personally directing the first two episodes, but unfortunately this makes the following episodes by a variety of other directors stand out as an uneven bunch that rarely live up to the quality of those first two.

This is not to say that it’s a bad show, but despite the blockbuster opening, things tend to be surprisingly down to Earth (no pun intended) most of the time. There’s a lot of family drama and it’s soon revealed that there are a whole bunch of other survivors on the planet too and so a lot more personal drama quickly begins to unfold with varying levels of quality. As a drama it’s not bad (though the new Will Robinson is kind of a whiny little bitch), but it’s not outstanding either, and I guess I wasn’t expecting something calling itself Lost in Space to rely so heavily on its dramatic aspects over its sci-fi ones.

It’s all so much more restrained and safe than I was expecting. Outside of the robot there isn’t a single alien race in sight and even strange alien animals and landscapes are a pretty rare sight. Again, it’s still not bad for what it is, but it wasn’t quite the sci-fi epic the trailer and the first two episodes made it out to be. This season is basically just a very long introduction to the concept of the Robinson family being lost in space, so in theory future seasons could get more outlandish as they end up on one or more new and different alien worlds, but we’ll have to wait and see. As it stands now, it’s a decent show, but not on the level of the likes of Altered Carbon or the Marvel NetFlix stuff.

A very goofy Lamberto Bava movie about a group of would-be stars who get invited to a dinner at a famous producer’s house, who naturally turns out to be a vampire. This was apparently a TV movie, and while it seems that standards for Italian TV were a little looser than ours were back then, it’s still pretty tame for a Lamberto Bava horror movie. The movie gets by pretty much entirely on how ridiculous the vampire and his minions are. It’s all incredibly dumb and cheesy, but in a fun, hilarious way. It’s definitely another of those special “so bad it’s good” movies.

Another Ron Howard film, In The Heart of the Sea tells the historical tale of the voyage that Moby Dick was based on. It starts off being a colorful nautical adventure, but then suddenly gets pretty dark in the second half when things go terribly wrong. It’s a very visually impressive movie and was mostly enjoyable, though the drastic shift in tone was a little odd and the characters never quite manage to become as compelling as those in Rush. Still a good movie, but not an amazing one.

I don’t know what to think of this movie. On one hand, the way director Ti West made this movie look and feel so authentically late 70’s/early 80’s was very impressive. On the other hand, it has some pretty serious pacing issues which you could look at as also being a throwback to old-timey horror movies, but is an aspect that really would have been better off left behind.

The middle of the movie doesn’t seem to have much point to its existence, as the main character literally just wanders around looking at random things and rooms in the house. People seem to generally defend this as “suspense building” because it’s “a slow burn” horror, which is a fancy way of defensively saying that almost nothing happens. While I’m generally not a fan of this, I can at least usually see when these types of movies are at least trying to be suspenseful in their attempts to fill time that they don’t have the budget to do anything more visually impressive in, but this is different. The main character literally just walks into a room, looks for a light switch, can’t find one, finds a lamp, sits down and looks around the room, sees nothing of importance, then stares off into the distance out of boredom for a while before getting up to go inspect the next pointless room, and this just goes on like this for a good half hour.

Things finally pick up a bit in the last third, but then has one of those endings that just kind of trails off, leaving a lot of things unanswered and unresolved. I don’t know. It wasn’t terrible, but I suppose it was ultimately underwhelming.

Another venture into weird “extreme” French horror, Frontiers is a story we’ve all seen many times before, with a group of young people wandering into the territory of a family of maniacs out in the countryside, but taken a few steps further. This is a much dirtier and more brutal story than your typical Texas Chainsaw Massacre clone, and for the most part it succeeds at this, though in the usual French fashion it begins to lean into overindulgence and in the later parts the violence becomes so excessive that it starts to feel comical. Still, it was mostly enjoyable for what it was.

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