Netflix Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000 11.1 “Reptilicus”


I grew up loving Mystery Science Theater 3000.  Since my favorite was always Tom Servo, it never mattered to me whether Joel or Mike was the host.  Even after the show went off the air, it was always nice to know that I could say, “How much Keeffe is in this movie?” and at least one person would know that the correct answer would always be “Miles O’Keeffe.”

When I first heard about the Kickstarter campaign to bring back Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was worried.  As someone who owns all of the Rhino DVDs, along with The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Colossal Episode Guide and several VHS copies of the original broadcasts on both Comedy Central and SyFy, I was happy to see that there was still life in the show.  At the same time, I was worried that a possibly inferior reboot might ruin some of my favorite childhood memories.

I just finished watching the first episode of the Netflix MST3K and there is no need for alarm or concern.  My childhood will survive.  While it wasn’t perfect, it was still more than good enough.  It may not have ranked up with the classic episodes of MST3K but it’s at least as good as the one where Pearl forced Mike and the Bots to watch the Russian version of Hamlet.

Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt were great as the new Mads.  I appreciated the return of the invention exchange and that the show still had the same deliberately cheap look that we all know and love from the original.  With Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy all being voiced by new actors, it’s going to take a while to get used to the new crew on the Satellite of Love but, by the end of the episode, both Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn had settled into their roles of Tom and Crow.  Considering that it was his first episode and that it is still strange to see someone other than Joel or Mike hanging out with the bots, Jonah Ray did a commendable job as the new host, bringing a laid back vibe to the role that was very reminiscent of the Joel years.  (That’s not surprising, considering that the revival is largely Joel’s baby.)  Tom being able to fly and Gypsy now being suspended from the ceiling are things that sound like they should not have worked but they did.  My one real complaint is that, without the Netflix captioning, it is often difficult to tell the difference between Jonah’s voice and Tom’s.

The movie was Reptilicus.  As a badly dubbed Danish monster movie, it was the perfect “experiment” with which to start off the new MST3K.  Everyone, even Gypsy, got a few good jokes in at the film’s expense.  Among my favorites:

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and it’s this movie.” — Crow

“Now, you’re Mr. Filing Cabinet.” — Gypsy, after one of the film’s scientists placed his hat on a filing cabinet.

“The Danish Army, cheaper than extras and less busy.” — Tom

“Reptilicus Returns in Reptilicus 2: 2 Fast 2 Danish.” — Jonah

The show’s best joke came during a host segment, when Crow and Tom asked Jonah to explain how every country has a monster “preferably in rap.”  The chorus of “Every country has a monster/They’re afraid of in their nation/Every monster has a country/Yeah, a station they call home” stayed with me long after the song ended.

Finally, I was happy to see the return of viewer mail segment.  It is nice to know that, in 2017, eight year-olds are still drawing pictures of Tom and Crow on the Satellite of Love.

If you are like me and you were worried that a new Mystery Science 3000 would destroy your childhood, don’t worry.  MST3K is back and, so far, it’s pretty good.

 

Here’s the teaser for Mindhunter!


Coming to Netflix in October…

It’s a new show about serial killers and the people who study them, hunt them, and hopefully capture them.   It’ll be like Criminal Minds, though it’ll probably feature more profanity and nudity and less Thomas Gibson-involved physical assaults.

This show was produced by David Fincher so you know every film blogger is going to have to watch at least one episode.

Here’s The Teaser for War Machine!


Hmmm…

Okay, so for two months — January and February to be exact — I was convinced that War Machine was going to be some sort of Oscar contender but this just released teaser has changed my mind.  It’s not that the teaser necessarily looks bad as much as it’s the fact that it ends with “Only on Netflix.”

(So, I guess it’s time to update those predictions before all the other award bloggers come across them and laugh at me.  Seriously, award bloggers are mean!)

(Of course, it’s also not uncommon for Netflix to play their films in a Los Angeles theater for a week so that they’ll be Oscar eligible.  That didn’t really work for Beasts of No Nation, of course….)

Anyway, here’s the teaser!

 

Classic Film Lovers Rejoice! Here’s The Trailer for Five Came Back!


If you love classic movies, you’re going to love this trailer for the new Netflix documentary, Five Came Back!

Based on Mark Harris’s brilliant non-fiction book, Five Came Back takes a look at the work that five great directors — Frank Capra, William Wyler, John Huston, George Stevens, and John Ford — did during World War II.  It’s a fascinating story and it was a fascinating book.  I just hope this documentary does it justice.

We’ll find out on March 31st!

(Incidentally, Five Came Back is narrated by Meryl Streep so expect to see her nominated for Best Actress next year…)

2016 in Review: 10 Good Things I Saw On Television In 2016


Of all my 2016 in review posts, this is probably going to be the most difficult for me to write.

Last year, when I tried to write about some of the good things that I saw on television in 2015, I started things by confessing that I hadn’t been watching as much television as usual and that I was having a hard time coming up with a worthwhile list.

Well, in 2016, I watched even less television than I did in 2015.  And what I did watch, I usually didn’t care much for.  2016 was dominated by that stupid presidential election and it didn’t take me long to discover that watching too much television would result in me having to sit through hundreds of political commercials.  When it came to watching television, I spent a good deal of 2016 clicking on the mute button.

Of course, I watched all of the reality shows, but even that was largely because I was contracted to write about them at the Big Brother Blog and Reality TV Chat.

I also spent a good deal of time watching classic films on TCM.  I live tweeted most of the movies that premiered on Lifetime and the Lifetime Movie Network.  I did the same during those rare occasions that a new movie showed up on SyFy.

But, beyond that, I found myself with less reason than usual to watch television.  Maybe I’m maturing.  Maybe my tastes are changing.  Maybe I’ve just grown bored with TV in general.  Or, perhaps, 2016 was just a really bad year.

Who knows?

Still, with all that in mind, here are a few good things that I saw on television in 2016!

1) American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson

The television event of the year!  I watched every episode and I was absolutely enthralled.  This brilliantly acted show is probably destined to be remembered as the only worthwhile project that Ryan Murphy was ever involved with.

(“But Lisa, what about American Horror Story…”  American Horror Story sucks.  Don’t even get me started on Scream Queens…)

2) Veep continued to be the most brilliant comedy on HBO.

I know that some people felt that Veep wasn’t as strong this season as it had been in previous seasons.  Well, those people can go to Hell.  Veep is not only a brilliant comedy but it’s also probably the most realistic political show on TV.  Considering the cult-like adoration that voters have for their candidates and towards the government in general, the unrepentant cynicism of Veep provided a much-needed wake up call to the brainwashed masses.

3) Speaking of Veep

Without a doubt, this was the best campaign commercial of 2016:

4) Stranger Things

Thank you, Netflix!

5) Agent Carter

The 2nd season of Agent Carter was just as wonderful, stylish, and empowering as the first.  Of course, the show as promptly canceled, leaving us with just a grand total of 18 episodes.

6) Speaking of cancellations…

American Idol finally came to an end!  Don’t get me wrong.  Like a lot of people, I used to be enthralled by American Idol.  For the first few seasons, I watched every episode.  I voted nearly every week.  I got really emotionally involved.  But, especially over the last few seasons, American Idol was becoming more and more irrelevant.  It soon came to represent everything that people like me hate about cultural conformity.  Vote For The Worst ceased operations, leaving me without a safe place to talk about how annoying it was whenever anyone would use that Hallelujah song for an audition.  A steady stream of boring judges didn’t help either.  American Idol finally came to an end last season.  I watched the final episode.  I can’t remember who won.

7) Bates Motel Continued To Take Brave Risks

Occasionally frustrating, sometimes infuriating, and often quite brilliant, Bates Motel remained one of the most consistently fascinating shows on television.

8) Vinyl crashed and burned

It may seem petty to describe a dramatic failure as being something good that I saw on television.  But, seriously, Vinyl was such a hubris-fueled trainwreck that it was impossible not to feel a little Schadenfreude as it fell apart.

9) Westworld

The anti-Vinyl.

10) The unicorn was saved.

According to Case, the life of a unicorn was saved when People of Earth was renewed for another season.  Yay!

unicorny

unicornlives

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2015 with my ten favorite non-fiction books of the year!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016
  4. 2016 in Review: The Best of SyFy
  5. 2016 in Review: The Best of Lifetime
  6. 2016 in Review: Lisa Picks the 16 Worst Films of 2016!
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top Ten Albums of 2016
  8. 2016 In Review: Lisa Marie’s 14 Favorite Songs of 2016

Playing Catch-Up: Sing Street (dir by John Carney)


sing_street_poster

The Irish musical comedy drama romance (that’s a lot of genres to take in, I know) Sing Street was one of the great and most sadly overlooked films of the previous year.  Fortunately, it’s on Netflix now and I seriously recommend that you watch it.  I watched it last night and I absolutely loved it.

Well, actually, it took me a while to realize that I loved it.  When the movie first started, I was kinda like, “Well, that’s cute and sweet but it’s not exactly blowing me away…”  It tells the story of a 15 year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is growing up in Dublin in the early 80s.  His father (Aidan Gillen) and his mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy) are constantly fighting and Conor suspects that they’re on the verge of separating.  His older brother, the charismatic but bitter Brendan (Jack Reynor), has dropped out of college and moved back home.  Brendan spends his days stoned and talking about music.

Because the family is short on money, Conor has been transferred to a free school, Synge Street.  It’s a far rougher school than what Conor is used to.  Bullies target him as soon as he arrives.  Meanwhile, the principal, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherly), has taken a somewhat disturbing interest in his newest student.  When Conor can’t afford to buy the black shoes that he’s required to wear to school, Baxter forces him to spend the school day in his socks.

Perhaps the only positive in Conor’s life is Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a 16 year-old who lives across the street from the school.  Raphina is an aspiring model with an older boyfriend and plans to move to London.  Conor tells Raphina that he’s in a band and that he wants her to star in a music video.  To Conor’s surprise, Raphina agrees.

Now, Conor just has to get a band together…

Sing Street was directed by John Carney, the same man who previously gave us the wonderful Once and the somewhat-less-wonderful-but-still-good Begin Again.  Much like those previous two films, Sing Street is a deliriously romantic and rather bittersweet little film, one in which love and emotion are expressed through song.  As a director, Carney has a real skill for capturing the excitement of creation.  The scenes in which Conor and his friend Eamon (Mark McKenna) work on their songs are just as enthralling as the scenes of Raphina and Conor falling in love.

And the music itself is wonderful.  While the soundtrack never quite reaches the heights of Once, it is a definite improvement over Begin Again.  The songs are all catchy and enjoyable but, even more importantly, they sound like the songs that actually would have been written by a talented but confused 15 year-old who has just started his own band.  There’s an aching sincerity to Sing Street‘s songs and they stay with you.  They remind you of how wonderful it is to know that you have your entire future ahead of you.

As I said, I didn’t realize how good Sing Street was until I had nearly reached the end of the movie.  Sing Street is one of those low-key films that kind of sneaks up on you.  At first, you think that you’re just watching another well-made coming of age film and then suddenly, you’re in tears.  You’re hoping that Raphina will make it to London and that Conor will find some sort of happiness.  The film ends on a somewhat ambiguous note but, in the end, you realize you really don’t need to know the exact details of what happened to Raphina and Conor in the future.  Instead, what’s important is that they had this wonderful experience when they were young.  Regardless of what happens to them in the future, you’re happy that they had the experience.

The whole film is undeniably well-acted but I want to make special mention of Jack Reynor, who brings a wounded dignity and rueful humor to the role of Brendan.  He dominates his few scenes and you find yourself happy that, regardless of how messed up the rest of his family may be, Conor has a brother like Brendan.

As I said at the start of this review, Sing Street is on Netflix.  And you should definitely watch it.