For The Fans…

A Review of EL camino: A breaking bad movie

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Another movie this year which I chalked up to being “unnecessary”, but in this instance I still believe that. But, did I watch El Camino the second it dropped on Netflix? As Walter White once proclaimed, “You’re goddamn right.” I guess this review has a hint of spoiler territory if you’ve never seen the original six seasons of Breaking Bad. If this is the case, be sure to stop reading here and go watch the series as it is one of the best television moments to ever grace the airwaves.

When we last left off the story of Jesse Pinkman, he was driving off into the sunset in an El Camino stolen off the once living, meth dealing white supremacists whose corpses now littered the very compound they had been keeping Jesse hostage in. This all of course thanks to Walter White’s last minute heroics which included robots and a fully automatic machine gun (Seriously to all the readers, go watch Breaking Bad). Anyways, to me this was the perfect send off to a beloved character who was only supposed to get a very short episode arc, but due to Aaron Paul’s prodigious performance, he became the Oliver Hardy to Bryan Cranston’s Stan Laurel. This ending sees Jesse burst through the locked gate of his previous forced residence as we get a close-up to his face both laughing manically while crying tears of relief and delirium. It left all viewers who watched with the idea that Jesse, a character who had gone through hell during this last season, would have a happily ever-after. Vince Gilligan had capped off one of his greatest achievements with an ending that left most, if not all fans, satisfied.

A little more than six years later we get El Camino, whose existence is more of a love letter from Gilligan to the fans. Was it necessary? Far from it. Was it satisfying? Oh, hell yeah it was. The story starts right at the very ending of Breaking Bad and doesn’t slow down. We find that not all stories are straight forward and sometimes our characters go from the frying pan and into the fire. Fans of Breaking Bad will not lose that feeling of satisfaction by the end of this movie, but will have more details to go with it.

Seeing Aaron Paul back as his titular character is refreshing and getting call backs to conversations he had with his past castmates from Jonathan Banks to Bryan Cranston made me nostalgic for the series. Two characters whose portrayals must be recognized are that of Todd Alquist, played by Jesse Plemons, and Ed Galbraith, played by the now late Robert Forster (who passed away, the same day the movie was released, at the age of 78). These two characters help to provide the details of Jesse’s past and move the story forward into his future. All I can say is that it is a must to have the exact change when purchasing a vacuum.

Can a two hour movie provide the same quality as six seasons? No, but Vince Gilligan has penned a love letter to the fans that allows us to see some of our favorite characters one more time. For that, I am giving El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie a 9.25/10. YoungYoda out.

I Exist.

A Non-spoiler review of joker

Photo Credit: Collider

If life is a comedy, then for Arthur Fleck, no one is laughing.  Though I’ve thrown out words to describe this movie previously, such as “unnecessary” or even to go as far as saying “a money grab” I must now eat them with a side of humble pie.  Though there is no absolute Joker origin story, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have crafted an unsettling look into madness and what could have easily caused the Clown Prince of Gotham to put on the face paint. No, it wasn’t falling into a vat of chemicals or facial scars that created this Joker, but rather governmental budget cuts and an uncaring society who looked the other way time and again.  Joker is eerily realistic in its portrayal of violence which can cause an anxiousness few films could ever attain (Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade being one of those…minus the violence of course).  This movie does not shy away on its social commentary either, putting modern society’s gun violence, lack of attention and facilities for those with mental illnesses, and the widening wage gap right in our faces.  For a movie about a clown there are no gags, few puns, but just raw manic emotion which will make all audiences wonder, “Where does Joaquin Phoenix go from here?” as he leaves it all on the screen. So, let’s all put on a happy face and be glad DC finally decided to take a risk and birthed a classic. YoungYoda out.

“It’s a good lie.”

A Review of the farewell

Photo Credit: businessinsider.com

This may be the most difficult review I will ever have to write for a movie.  Lulu Wang has created art which crosses all thresholds and is relatable to any audience. The Farewell is masterful in dredging up familiar moments.  Moments which include the happiness of family gatherings to the horrible, gut-churning acceptance of a reality where cancer may soon take your patriarch. 

Its portrayals of the ridiculousness of how families deal with both marriage and death are both different yet recognizable.  Even though this family is predominately of Chinese origins, any race or culture can understand and appreciate the events happening on the screen in their own lives.  Even the dinner scenes have those similar bickering moments between relatives we’ve all had to be witness to.  This is a film whose emotional connection to its audience may be unmatched by any film which has ever come before it (and I do not say this lightly). 

The superb casting works hand in hand with the script to create a family unit that comes across as being real and not one haphazardly thrown together to be portrayed on the big screen.  I would be very surprised and disappointed if Awkwafina does not garner a Best Actress Oscar Nomination for her portrayal of Billi, the somewhat somber and cynical grandchild of the bubbly and full of life (and also unfortunately cancer) Nai Nai, played by Zhao Shuzhen.  The supporting cast also help to carry the burden of Nai Nai’s cancer (as they refuse to tell her as to not scare her to an earlier grave) throughout the film.  Their interactions help show every side of a family trying to deal with the ever-looming presence of death including humor, guilt, and heartbreak. 

The vulnerability presented in The Farewell is as unnerving as it is beautiful.  This along with the ending scene, which is almost a guarantee to elicit the waterworks, is why I am calling this the best film of the year and it is only September. 10/10 long cries. YoungYoda out.

(P.S. This review is purposely short as words are difficult when it comes to the emotional intensity of this film.  My suggestion is to go watch it and understand where I’m coming from.  Much love.)

Encyclopedia of Super

A Review of Jason Inman’s Super Soldiers

Photo Credit: WorldofBlackHeroes

I suppose I should be proud to be the writer of ‘The Nerd Corps’ first book review on this site as I offer up my opinions on Jason Inman’s ‘Super Soldiers’ in this post.  As an adult it has grown quite difficult to find time to read as my attention has turned from only school and books to a life full of dog walks, significant other dates, podcast recordings, movie watches and full-blown attention deficit disorder at times.  I did my best to read this as quickly as I could and unfortunately that was over the span of a few months.  So, to Jason and everyone else, I apologize in the time it took to write this review.

Starting off, let me introduce Jason Inman who you may have heard on the podcast twice as he graciously agreed to talk with myself and Raul for around an hour each time (Episodes 85 and 237 if you want to take a listen).  Jason is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, an author of books (duh) and comics (Jupiter Jet, Science!, etc.), and quoting from his website jasoninman.com “a former host of DC All Access and a regular guest on Collider Movie Talk, Geek & Sundry, Collider Heroes, Screen Junkies, SourceFed, and Film HQ…Besides uploading weekly videos on his youtube channel, Jawiin, Jason has hosted his own podcast Geek History Lesson for over five years which was nominated for a Podcast Award”.  These two aspects of Jason, that of a veteran and that of the encyclopedia of all things nerd, come into play with his book Super Soldiers which focuses on the comic book heroes and villains who served the United States military. 

First, I must comment on the ease of reading I found with this book.  Jason has the ability to condense a lot of history of these super powered figures into four to eight pages each. His inclusion of many of the lesser known heroes and villains such as Gravedigger, Isaiah Bradley, and Nuke along with various unfamiliar (to me at least) details of the more popular figures (Captain America, Punisher, etc.) helped keep my attention piqued as each chapter I was exploring the details of someone I didn’t know or finding out more about the heroes I had grown up with.  Jason does not shy away from the controversial aspects of each character’s history either but delves right into their history, be it Batwoman’s sexuality during the peak of “don’t ask, don’t tell” or the mistreatment of Gravedigger and Isaiah Bradley due to being black men in a WWII America.  Any comic book fan will want to run out and pick up the back issues of many of these character’s comics (I’m personally going to buy up as much of Gravedigger’s “Men of War” as I can find).

On top of all this, Jason includes his own military experiences helping to bridge that gap between comic book lore and reality.  From speaking on the difficulty of transitioning back to civilian life, just like War Machine, to pranking his sergeant ala Beetle Bailey, he is able to compare and contrast the life of an enlisted soldier with these fictional stories of super powered (and sometimes not so superpowered aka Sgt. Rock) heroes.

This, in my humble opinion, is a must read for all fans of comics and comic book heroes.  The amount of information contained within these 218 pages is astounding, so be sure to keep this close at hand when researching who came before Captain America or how Flash Thompson went from bully to hero.  As Sir Francis Bacon coined once upon a time, “Knowledge is power” and as Super Soldiers goes, “Knowledge is Super Power”. YoungYoda out.

P.S. be sure to pick up Super Soldiers on Amazon and give a follow to Jason at the following: Twitter & Instagram- @Jawiin; Go listen to his podcast “Geek History Lesson” (@GHLPodcast) wherever you listen to podcasts.

Another Shark Tale…But Different

A Review of ‘bad cgi sharks’

Photo Credit: Bad CGI Sharks

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fan when it comes to the B-movie genre, especially when it is one which involves sharks.  My eyes have been on the receiving end of too many badly acted, directed, and written scripts that have possibly dropped my IQ further than the copious amounts of alcohol I had consumed while day drinking in college.  Sharknado to me is almost as bad as the plastic surgeon hired by Tara Reid and if you listened to my comments on “The Nerd Corps” podcast, then you know my disdain of ‘The Meg’, which I refused to watch.  If I wanted to see Jason Statham punching and running from a large object, then I would just watch Hobbs and Shaw.

Where many of these movies falter is that they either don’t know they’re a horrible b-movie shark flick, or they do know it but bad acting and heavy-handed action sequences overpower the slight comedy sprinkled in (which, unfortunately, generally comes across as corny).  ‘Bad CGI Sharks’ however has decided to flip this and instead of relying on overpriced action sequences, they instead inject a far more comedic approach, relying on the dialogue (comedic not character) and a brotherly love story to be their foundation (they also throw in a magic Italian director who has the power to basically do whatever the f*ck he wants, which is kind of cool and more believable than a payphone existing in 2019).

Through the film, I found myself caring about the brothers and their story.  Matthew, being the more serious of the two, is made to deal with his estranged brother Jason who has basically downed 20 redbulls and is set free in Hollywood with his only dream being to make a Shark Movie they had written when they were eleven.  The dynamic between their two personalities helped set the tone of the film as both must work together while being chased by floating 3-D monstrosities that continuously fail to render. Because of this, Matthew learns to open up more and have fun while Jason realizes that not everything in life is sunshine and rainbows (just most of everything).  The brothers grow closer through each scene as they barely escape the pixelated jaws hunting them. 

I must also bring up the infinite entertainment value brought on by the continuous (what I like to call) “under the radar” jokes.  Those jokes which on paper probably aren’t seen as funny, but the dry humor and perfect delivery make me belly laugh into oblivion each time (Go watch Talladega Nights for more instances).  The best example of this is when Matthew is speaking with his boss, saying how his brother is ruining his life, and catches a glimpse of the self-motivation poster his employer has tacked up behind her.  He proceeds then to recite, “I want to learn…grow…and…suck…seed.” Now, many of these jokes are sprinkled throughout the film and their addition is a definite positive for any viewer who has the sense of humor of a prepubescent boy (which means me).

Bad CGI Sharks doesn’t shy away from what it is (hell, it’s the name of the movie) but barrels forward with low quality land?…hover? shark villains pushing our story along with a massive amount of comedic flare and a heart-warming journey.  Jason Ellsworth, Matthew Ellsworth, and Matteo Molinari have created something rather unique in a genre filled with the rotting filet-o-fishes of shark movie pasts.  Because of this, I’m giving Bad CGI Sharks a solid 8/10 rating.  YoungYoda Out.