Reacher S1 Ep4 “In a Tree”, (Dir. Christine Moore) Review by Case Wright

I hope that you missed me! I have been knee-deep in differential equations and a back injury, but like Reacher, I’m continuing on- It got picked up! Also, I have been reading the first book and I can confirm that this show is very true to the book. I think that’s why I like it so much- it’s throwback to the mini-series of the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s- Shogun, North and South, Jesse Stone, and The Stand. These were book adaptions that strove to be true to the source material. Today, we are used to craptacular adaptations like “It” an ok film, but had nothing to do with the source material and openly rejected it.

Reacher episodes, like the mini-series of yore, continue from the moment the last episode ends, but unlike the mini-series of yesteryear they use different directors for each episode. Luckily, they pick old hands at familiar with the action/mystery genre. This episode is directed by Christine Moore – if it’s an action packed mystery show- she has directed it. Period. She can direct the Hell out of a fight scene.

Reacher is rummaging through the assassin vehicle and putting everyone in the truck who he killed. To fit them all in, he breaks their dead legs. YEECH! Keep in mind, this is not just a mystery for Reacher- it’s a revenge story. They killed his brother- his only family and he would kill the whole town if they were all in on it.

They find Joe’s car and there’s a great bit of dark comedy when Reacher jokes to Finley how he killed two more people and they’re in the car a few feet from them. There’s a total understanding that the rules have been broken. Society itself died in Margrave. They are the only law and vengeance is the only punishment. That’s why the backdrop of Iraq is always present.

After Iraq fell, events happened that should not have. I was not there, but things happened just the same. Society is a mile long and an inch deep. We are always one sustained power blackout from tribal conflict and feudalism. Reacher reveals to Roscoe that caught three pedophiles abusing local boys. He gave them a choice to turn themselves in or answer to him. They chose Reacher and he executed them. She rapidly gets on board with dumping bodies at the airport parking garage. Wow. COLD BLOODED!

Roscoe and Reacher check into an airport Hotel and get a call from Joe’s former partner, but she doesn’t even give them a hint as to what the investigation is about. She will meet them at the airport, but I got to write that it was WEIRD that she didn’t give a hint about what his brother was investigating. Shortly after the call, the building sexual tension between Roscoe and Reacher releases in a fairly long scene.

Meanwhile, the mayor pulls Finley off of investigating the case and threatens his career. Reacher and Roscoe find the motel where Joe was staying and get his his hidden notes. Reacher and Roscoe get pursued by killers….again. When they are all together to meet Joe’s former partner at the airport, they see her, and then she vanishes. Reacher searches for her and finds her bleeding out. Back to square one.

The Tomorrow War, Review by Case Wright

I loved this movie and really loved live tweeting it with Lisa Bowman. There are some critics (killjoys) who want to pick on the movie because it doesn’t “make sense.” No one said this was being made for the Science Channel; so, just cool it and enjoy! Do I think that time travel is a bunch of nonsense? Yes, but so what?! I don’t believe in “Letters of Transit,” Facehuggers, or the Force.

I can relate to the hero A LOT; he’s a Veteran with Daddy issues who is trying to get a career going in STEM and he has a young daughter. The film opens with us learning he is teaching high school science and can’t get a private sector job. He feels like he’s meant for more, but can’t get there. He and his wife are hosting a Christmas party and watching soccer. Dan, I know that times are tough, but why bring soccer into it? I don’t think that people watch soccer on purpose. How could they? Why make your life harder? Our future-selves appear and ask for help in fighting aliens who are turning us into snacks. We agree to help and mobilize a global draft.

This is where most critics get worked up. Why help fight a battle that is already lost? I’ll tell you! The movie makes more sense than people think. Why send Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) and millions of other people from our time to fight aliens from the future? They needed cannon fodder while they protected researchers who created a toxin to kill the male and female aliens. Without that toxin, Dan would not have been able to defeat the alien queen. Take that! The whole plan is to get the toxin finished and have Dan go back and kill all the aliens with it. Without it, she would’ve eaten him. Yes, we needed the cannon fodder. If Dan succeeds, wouldn’t that bring all the draftees back to life? Yeah, maybe? Einstein didn’t really didn’t have to deal with too many aliens and wormholes. I would put that in the column of …. relax.

Back to the movie, Dan gets drafted and his wife wants him to get his estranged father to help him remove his draft tracking device. Dan’s father abandoned him and his mother; so, Dan gets angry at his father and decides to honor his draft commitment and fight aliens. He goes to the future with no training, fights aliens, and retrieves the toxin. Way to go, Dan.

These monsters are gross and good adversaries. They’re fast, they shoot spikes, the eat you, they have natural armor, and can coordinate attacks. We are doomed. After he gets the toxin, he meets his grown daughter Muri who is the head of the resistance. We learn Dan fell into a depression because he couldn’t live a bigger life and he abandons his family just like his father did. This is why Muri drafted Dan: She wanted him to be his best self and to be the special person that he needed to be after his military life was over. She gives her father a chance to be a hero again. When Muri finishes the toxin, he goes back to save the future or the past …it’s kinda confusing.

I have given quite a bit of the film away, but it’s still amazing. I appreciate the critique that Charlie (Sam Richardson) brought too much humor to the film. I actually liked it, but I could’ve lived without it as well. Instead of the endless jokes, I would’ve liked more development of Dorian (Edwin Hodge). His lines popped more and brought more seriousness to the film. Were Charlie’s jokes funny? Yes, but while the jokes went on, I thought- I really wish I could hear more from Dorian interacting with Dan.

The direction was very well done. I love a well choreographed action movie without a lot of cutaways. This delivered. I was surprised to learn that Chris McKay’s filmography was heavily in animation. I hope he gets more opportunities for live action. The final battle scene was a lot of fun. I liked that the female characters had depth, kicked ass, and had real arcs. Because of that, my daughters love watching the movie with me. I can only write that we haven’t seen the movie six times.

*Spoilers* Reacher, S1 Ep3, “Spoonful”, Review By Case Wright, (Dir: Stephen Surjik)

We need to create a list of people in this show who don’t want to kill Jack Reacher. I can think of three people… Oscar, Roscoe, and maybe….Jasper. Jasper could snap. How many times can you dig testicles out of a dead man’s stomach before you go homicidal… twice… three times?! Not many more (see below).

Jasper desperately groping for his mental Happy Place.

We learn from BRIEF exposition that Jack’s estranged brother Joe was in the Secret Service and high up boss: Director of special investigations – anti-counterfeiting. Somehow Margrave is involved in counterfeiting?! What’s special about Reacher is that at its heart it’s a Whodunnit. It’s a mystery with so much action, but it’s a mystery show like if Sherlock Holmes traded in his opium for LOTS of freeweights. Jasper identifies the latest murder victim as a trucker who worked for Kliner. This trucker got into a jam and got a high priced lawyer somehow to get him out of it.

They develop a plan: Oscar will search a crooked prison guard’s home and Reacher goes to the lawyer posing as a prospective client. Both end with severe beatings. Oscar gets beaten and arrested by redneck cops who mistake him for a burglar and Reacher just plain beats up the lawyer until he gives up information. Obviously, they are planning on taking this case to court.

The next plan is to confront KIiner at his office. Why? This did not make sense, but it enabled Oscar to show some more emotions. With their hand tipped, EVERYONE has to go into quasi-hiding. This town really sucks. Roscoe has a run-in with the world’s most obvious sociopath- KJ- Kliner’s horrible kid. KJ tries to drive a wedge in Roscoe and Reacher’s relationship by accusing him of being a war criminal. We all hate KJ. Oscar goes to Atlanta to find some intel on Hubble the accountant. Hubble stopped coming to the Atlanta office for work a year ago. What was he doing? Well, money laundering. So…. Ok, I guess Oscar just really wanted to hangout in Atlanta. Yes, there’s a lot going on.

Reacher goes back to crooked prison guard’s bar to find him. He doesn’t, but he does get to beat the Hell out of several people. The crooked prison guard skipped town. Once again, Reacher is tailed by two South American Hitmen who try really really hard to kill him, but Reacher beats them to the punch and shoots them dead. Reacher discovers the crooked prison guard is dead in their trunk. I really need to get a body count on this show; we have to be edging into Total Recall territory.

This is a fun episode and it really forces all the heroes to understand that there will be no arrests. This is the wild west and it’s murder and vengeance every single day.

Reacher, S1 Ep2, “First Dance”, Review by Case Wright (Dir. Sam Hill), Teleplay- Scott Sullivan

The cold opens in this show are awesome; the end of the last episode feeds right into the opening of the following episode. It is literally a long movie. Reacher needs to follow up his next lead with Paul’s wife (Kristen Kreuk) and sneaks around the house and finds a vegetation clue- Really. Reacher is Sherlock Holmes/Shane/Batman. This small clue leads him to where his brother’s killer lied in wait. I know that I’m throwing a lot at you, but you have to understand that this show does not let up- There is no exhaling. You are like Reacher; you can’t stop. Then, he beats A LOT of people who try to mess with him. Why? Just why? Messing with Reacher…. ohhhh… bad idea. Side note: he’s got a soft spot for animals. I can relate to this man… so well, except he’s a bit taller.

The people killing off these Margrave residents are rough; I didn’t know you could mix crucifixion and castration, but here we are. I need a counter-clicker like they have a sporting events to keep track of all of the murders.

The writer and director establish that the town officials are as crooked as a mountain road. The killers see Charlie, Paul’s wife, as a loose end so she has to run her for her life with her children and go into hiding. Venezuelan special forces are trying to kill Reacher…and well everyone who connected to this unknown criminal enterprise.

Side note: Reacher never wears a shirt. I’m assuming it’s because of an allergy fabric sensitivity.

Roscoe is assigned to keep tabs on Reacher and it leads to dancing and partial nudity. I know that reads as contrived, but it did seem to work. There is real chemistry between Reacher and Roscoe. Sam Hill, the director, is not just great setting up tension, but he knows how to pace a story. However, they all seem to be anti-shirt. You see more shirt-wearing at a pool.

The episode ends with Roscoe seeing that her house was raided and she is targeted by the killers as well. Who isn’t marked for death?! How do they even get the mail in this town?

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Watch this show!

Reacher shirt allergy sufferer.

Reacher, S1 Ep1, “Welcome to Margrave” Review by Case Wright (Dir. Thomas Vincent)

Reacher is the greatest show in ten-years! In fairness, I’m a fan of Alan Ritchson (Titans) and Malcolm Goodwin (iZombie). These men have deserved a series for A WHILE!!! It’s great to see talented people have success. It’s how it should be. It reaffirms the power of great art; it can’t be stopped. Thomas Vincent, the director, appears to be on the arthouse side. I was stunned to find out that an arthouse director pulled me into this action packed show by my proverbials. Nick Santora wrote this pilot perfectly. I was pulled deeper into every scene. We need to work on new adjectives to describe how good this show is.

What makes a great Pilot? It has to establish all of the characters, immediate danger/conflict, a mythology, and show not tell. This show had barely any exposition at all. I haven’t seen that done in years. In a time, when lazy writing is the norm, this show tosses all of that aside. Alan was born to play this part. I will get into this deeper later on, but he has the most believable portrayal of a Veteran since Battlestar Galactica. Someone helped Alan act like us and he did a great job of it.

“Welcome to Margrave” opens with Jack Reacher walking toward a diner with no obvious possessions. Reacher is rapidly arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and he’s pulled into this town’s intrigue and bodies are dropping. He walks with some discomfort, which is clear in the pilot until the last scene. Why was this important? Veterans always kind of feel a little naked because we’re permanently out of uniform. We never really get over it. We’re always just a little fish out of water.

Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) the chief detective has no idea where to begin to solve these murders. The town is just 1700 people in there are two people dead by the end of the pilot. Finlay discerns that a local business accountant Paul Hubble is involved and tries to get him to talk to Reacher by locking them both up at the local prison. However, unknown to Finlay, someone wants Reacher and Paul dead. Let’s take just a moment to offer some respect to the writer and director for opting for the hard road of storytelling. They’ve set all of this conflict up without an exposition fest -that takes talent and discipline. It also leads to the greatest fight scene I’ve ever seen. Not since the Titans “Pilot” did I see a fight scene of this caliber. It topped it.

This show has heart, violence, mystery and intensity. Reacher discovers that the second body is his brother Joe. His physicality changes; he’s more relaxed in both speech and walking. Why? Because now Reacher has a mission: Revenge. Alan Ritchson pulled this transformation off brilliantly.

I have to also discuss Malcolm Goodwin as Finlay. His marriage is failed and now his career is a mess because this town is confronted with two murders in two days. His performance is like a pressure cooker; he’s trying desperately not to explode. I loved it.

I highly recommend this show. It should be picked up immediately!

Titans S3 Ep6, “Lady Vic”, Review by Case Wright

The holidays are over and I know A LOT about Electricity, Magnetism, and Titans. The episode opens with a brutal scene of a woman killing two cops. I almost had to look away. It is NOT for the faint of heart. What got to me was the cold psychopathy of it. The reason for this little Kill-spree is poorly developed. It quickly cuts to Wayne Manor and Blackfire is now a quasi-Titan and she still prevents me from totally concentrating. She and Superboy have REAL chemistry. So… pretty sure that’s happening very soon. Kyptonians get all the luck!

Lady Vic really more of a B-Storyline. We see how Barbara Gordon and Dick became an item. Boy knows girl, boy and girl both dress flamboyantly, and boy and girl knock over a museum for an old trinket, which of course leads to Knocking Boots. There’s a lid for every pot, but museum heist leading to intercourse doesn’t seem like a direct route to me, but what do I know- I study hours of Math …. for fun. Through flashbacks, we learn that Babs and Dick went on heists for fun, but ended up killing Lady Vic’s husband, brother… or something.

I guess that I have to note that there is a plotline of when will Blackfire and Superboy hook up? However, this plot-line is just so predictable that it’s not great. The show needs Hawk back. He added a terrific wisecracking element and Gar and Superboy just don’t quite make up for his loss.

Jason Todd is still Red Hooding with Dr Crane. Lady Vic works for him too, but just as a side-hustle.

This episode was more disjointed than a knee replacement, but I guess you have to watch it to prepare for the next episodes.

JRJR Gone, Review and Analysis- Case Wright

What if you are living your best life, but it’s horrible?

Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Illness are as common as Brown Eyes, but treated like mystical forces. It wasn’t even until the 1970s that we commonly used the term “Depressed”. Today, we have not acknowledged as a species that the Brain is just another organ. The brain is a miraculous organ, but an organ nonetheless. We are fine with treating a pancreas with insulin, but anti-depressants are still referred to by many as “Happy Pills”, implying recreation; or worse, there use is akin to marijuana or alcohol consumption.

“Gone” was written by Joshua Epstein, Mike Higgins, and Dan Nigro when they were 34. It was featured in films, gained popularity, and yet Joshua remained anxious and sad. Why? It was because Joshua didn’t know that he had clinical Anxiety. The upbeat tempo of the song like his upbeat life and success belied the danger and depression expressed in the lyrics. He was wasn’t diagnosed with Anxiety until after “Gone” was a hit. By danger, I mean suicide. Suicide takes out middle-aged men like a scythe. I have lost friends to it. I’m not writing that ”Gone” was a suicide note, but the lyrics point to it as true a laser sight.

Just as Joshua didn’t know he had anxiety, it was equally likely that he didn’t know that he was writing about suicide. However, I argue that his subconscious must have. The suicide theme has gone unnoticed because the tempo and melody is upbeat. This is similar to the “MASH” theme – “Suicide is Painless”, which used the exact same means to cover up the song’s inherent darkness. Although I believe the “MASH” producers intentionally covered up the theme song’s darkness and JR JR did not.

I will analyze the lyrics and post the video, allowing you to decide if you believe that I am correct.

I’ve made up my mind over and over

Here Joshua is expressing that he doesn’t understand what he’s meant to do. Do I become I dentist like my dad? Do I stay in music? Build canoes in Oregon? These are all dead ends. He’s passionate and smart; so, he might he even be successful at these re-invented Joshua’s, but he’s still wanting.

Keep pressing rewind but I’m getting older
Tried every door, don’t know who I’m looking for

Joshua is in middle-age now and he still has no clear path forward.

And I’ve made up my mind over and over

I can’t be everything you want me to be
I can’t be everything you want me to be

Frustrated, like many middle-aged men. He decides to give up. He’s going to end it.
Finally, I can see the light through the leaves

As he is dying, he looks up from the ground and sees “the light through the trees”. In his last moments, he figures out his path, but he won’t be able to “hit rewind” because his decision is a final one.
But it’s all gone
But it’s all gone

“But it’s all gone” is referring himself being all gone. No more present or future.

What comes from the ground now is returning

“What comes from the ground now is returning” is a reference to Man coming from the ground as clay and now he’s returning- Dust to Dust.
It’s all the same sound and my ears are burning

He states “my ears are burning” because people are talking about him; they’re worried.
In some strange home, don’t know who I’m working for

Now, he’s losing consciousness that’s the “strange home” and because this act is final he doesn’t “know who [he’s] working for because all self-determination and advice is now irrelevant- forever. The final chorus refrain reinforces him drifting into the abyss.
I’ve made up my mind over and over

I can’t be everything you want me to be
I can’t be everything you want me to be
Finally, I can see the light through the leaves
But it’s all gone
But it’s all gone

Over and over, over and over
Over and over, over and over

I can’t be everything you want me to be
I can’t be everything you want me to be
Finally, I can see the light through the leaves
But it’s all gone
But it’s all gone
But it’s all gone

The brain is an organ, but unlike the heart, the brain can call out for help through nightmares, outbursts, reckless behavior, or like this artist’s brain – it used art.

I could be wrong, but I do not believe that I am. If this song or my analysis strikes a chord with you, I implore you to talk to someone ASAP.

Creepshow, “Time Out”, “The Things in Oakwood’s Past”

Maybe I’m getting cantankerous, but my tolerance for incompetence is at a nadir. Not to say that these were the worst stories I’ve seen, but they were up there. Maybe making a horror series is a way to pass the time? The budgets must be REALLY small. For example, look at this guy’s truly FAKE beard:

Santa as a Pederast

It looks like if Party City fell on hard times or Santa Claus became a Ginger Pederast. That is a CREEPY beard and that’s not what they were going for, but it’s what they got.

The B-Story didn’t even have live action! It was just animated!

Not to say that big budget studios don’t cut corners. Netflix can’t afford lights. I’m assuming that’s the case because every show looks like it was filmed with a Key Chain Maglite. EG:

The above is from a Netflix show called Midnight Mass and I guess that they heard Chairman Mao’s saying, “It’s always darkest, just before it goes completely black” and just leaned in. I can’t tell what’s going on here. I guess these….Three?? guys are in a canoe or maybe that’s just a really big raccoon in flannel on the end there. Who knows? It could be a raccoon; I’ve seen raccoons in Texas as big as Labrador Retrievers and they’re really organized too! I saw one raccoon with a hat and clipboard directing 8 enormous raccoons and these were just ordinary suburban raccoons! Could imagine what these mutant raccoons could do with some funding?!

Anywho, back to this aggressively mediocre program – Creepshow. It’s created by Greg Nicotero who also created The Walking Dead, which was just ok on it’s best day! I’m glad to see that Greg is consistent. Don’t let success go to your head- aim low. Greg, thanks for delivering another Center of Mass performance review! As Casey Kasem’s mediocre brother – Chad Kasem would say, “Keep reaching for the remote, but keep your ass on the couch.”

These two episodes were both varying degrees of stupid. The first episode was about Tim and his magical armoire. Really. Instead of the wardrobe showing where the wild things were, it was more of a desk that caused time to do stupid things. He would go into the magical closet and time would zoom by for him, but slow down for everyone on the outside of the closet. This is general relativity in reverse because the writer fell asleep in basic physics. If Tim did go into a black hole or whatever, time would slow down for him, but not for the folks outside of the closet. Tim should’ve returned and everyone would be way older, but nope. He never seemed to grasp that he was aging A LOT every time he went into the closet. Shocker, he dies- *eyeroll* I cared not!

The second story was like if an 8th grader got a very small budget to make an 18 minute scary cartoon. The town of Oakwood is about to celebrate is bi-centennial and they decide to open a really scary looking box to celebrate. It looked haunted and gross. This is the box that everyone thought it would be great to open:

I won’t write that everyone dies….most do though. If you’re bored and really want to watch something that’s the equivalent of a day old room temperature Chick-Fil-A sandwich, this is for you!

Don’t Answer (Really Don’t), Review by Case Wright

Someone has to review this and I guess I drew the short-straw….again. Short horror is likely the mostly challenging short because you have to elicit two feelings: Concern and Fear. The problem is that if you don’t care about the actors, you can’t feel the fear because you can’t identify with them. Their demise is as important to you as whether or not you should do light or heavy starch.

Poor poor What’s Her Face house-sits for her father and takes a bunch of stupid pills. Not that she’s using drugs, but I’m assuming stupid pills were taken because What’s Her Face does A LOT of stupid things. A creep tries to get access to her apartment building, she refuses. He gets in any way and threatens her. A normal person would at least try to call the police or her Dad. She does, however, take out the garbage when she knows a psycho is out and about, and this act of stupidity gives him access to her father’s flat and the psycho kills her. That’s it.

I don’t mind if something is gratuitous, but please don’t make it boring. It did allow me some time proof my bread; so, I suppose the film did do that.

“My Monster”, Short Film Review, By Case Wright

Some shorts are just garbage trash. Some lack a coherent structure. This particular short tried to be clever, but ended as kinda dumb. I don’t mind things being stupid. Many of the nicest people in my life aren’t geniuses. In fact, a nice dumb friend is waaaay better than a smart mean one. This short was like a dumb/lazy friend. It felt like a couple of randos got a camcorder and just decided to make a Christmas themed short horror film.

I have watched worse films. At least, this short was done on a small budget; so, I can’t crap on it too much. It does need some crapping upon… for fairness.

Lily has a problem: she sees a monster outside of her window and her Tae Bo training boyfriend doesn’t believe her. Eventually, he sees the monster and it kills him and she starts dating the monster. I guess that it’s like a trial by ordeal. The monster defeated her boyfriend; so, the monster gets to watch old movies with her etc.

We used to elect Presidents the same way. The electoral college was a battle royal with everybody claiming each other’s spouses and electoral college votes. The Iowa caucuses was just full-on cannibal- very Hills have Eyes, but with extra corn. I’m sure that those brave/weird souls of yesteryear would’ve understood this short film and would have been immensely entertained. I am not and was not, but they did make an ok home movie.