Death Note, Not Really A Horror Movie

imagesLast night, the husband and I were looking for something to watch on Netflix, and we came across this interesting looking “horror movie: called Death Note. The premise is that a teenage boy, Light (yes, that’s his name), comes across a leather journal labeled “Death Note.” In the book, there are a list of rules, but what it all boils down to is that if he writes down the name of the person while holding their face his his mind, they die. He can even pick the method.

He starts with the school bully. (That’s not a spoiler. If you couldn’t see that a million miles away, then this is probably the first movie you’ve ever watched.) Ryuk, presumably the creature who orchestrates the killings, appears to him and goads him into killing more people.

Sounds pretty cool, right? It’s apparently based on manga of the same name, and people who reviewed this vs. the manga on imdb.com said that the creators got most everything wrong.

I haven’t read the manga, but the story felt off to me. The whole time I was watching it, I wanted to like it. But it was too much like bad TV movie instead of the quality I’ve come to expect from Netflix originals. Even worse, the premise was fantastic, and I saw how it could have been great.

What I didn’t like (SPOILERS below):

  1. It turned into a bad cop show. Now, I love cop shows. But this was supposed to be a horror movie. It was like a caricature, with the nameless “secret” detective not only believing that a single person could be responsible for the deaths of 400 people, but then figuring it out that it’s a teenage boy. Yes, Light has people leave his “signature” at their death scenes, but the police never heard of copycat crime?
  2. No real exploration of human nature. The kid starts killing bad people, starting with the bully and then the guy who was responsible for his mother’s death. Which is totally understandable. Light starts dating this girl who’s obsessed with death. At first they’re just killing bad people: rapists and murderers. But when detectives start getting too close to them, Mia wants to kill the detectives and Light doesn’t. This could have been such an interesting storyline, but they just left it flat. Light was the good guy, Mia was the bad guy. Black and white.
  3. The book falls from the sky. The first scene of the movie is that a storm rolls in, and the Death Note literally falls from the sky. Literally falls from the sky. Light picks it up and becomes the “keeper.” This is the dumbest way it could have happened to get the book. Off the top of my head, I can think of many better ways for this to happen. It’s too deus ex machina for me. But at least the opening scene set the stage for how the rest of the movie would go.
  4. Light never wonders what happened to the last keeper(s) of the book. Ryuk alludes several times the previous keepers, but Light doesn’t seem to pick up on it. Ryuk says only the keeper can hold the book for more than 7 days. And that Light can either give the book away, or Ryuk can find a new keeper. But the way he said it made me wonder if the last one died, and how.
  5.  I love when music blends seamlessly into the background, enhancing the mood. This didn’t do that. It led to that caricature-like atmosphere I mentioned before.
  6. The ending was ambiguous. I like ambiguous endings, when appropriate. The ending of Inception was cool because it wasn’t lazy storytelling; it was part of the story. In this case, how it ended would change the message of the entire movie. I understand why the writers did it; to leave it open to the audience to determine, like a commentary on human nature. But the rest of the story didn’t do a good enough job of this to have it end this way.

One thing I really liked:

Other than the premise, the one thing I really liked about this show was the fact that people started worshipping “Kira,” the entity who took credit for the killings. Criminals started turning themselves in to police, instead of waiting for Kira to kill them where they were. I found those two things believable and interesting.

In conclusion:

Overall, it was interesting to watch once. I wouldn’t have been as disappointed by it as I was if it didn’t have such great potential. It’s just that I like when horror explores human nature, and this was a let-down.

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The Santa Clarita Diet, A Breath of Freshly (Decaying) Air

img_7547You know, I don’t get tired of zombie stories. When it’s one I’ve seen before, then of course it’s less interesting. But when it brings something new and fun, I’m all in.

I’ve already binge-watched the entire 10 episodes of the Santa Clarita Diet, on Netflix. We intended to watch a couple episodes, but before we knew it, they were all gone. Like potato chips, I couldn’t have just one.

On the gore-o-meter, I suppose it’s pretty high. It didn’t even give me a twinge (I have a really strong stomach), but my husband got a little queasy after the fact. There is a lot of blood. And vomit. And dead bodies. And body parts. If you’re into horror movies and The Walking Dead, it probably won’t bother you. If not… maybe you don’t want to watch it while eating anything with tomato sauce.

I love anything with Drew Barrymore, and she brings her goofy brand of humor to this family sitcom. Timothy Olyphant pretty great too. In fact, I loved everyone on the show. I really thought that Skyler Gisondo as the geek next door stole the show. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved geeks, and he’s awkward and lovable.

When she first becomes a zombie, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) is completely controlled by her id. Since she was so uptight when she was alive, everyone notices the difference. She went from stereotypical suburban mom to giving out advice on fulfilling your desires. And taking no crap from anyone. Yeah, she needs to eat, but the show doesn’t just focus on her quest for human flesh (though there is that), but also on her trying to navigate the world she lives in with very little impulse control.

The writers don’t tell us how Sheila contracted her zombie-ism. She quips that it might be because of bad clams, but there’s no “real” speculation. I’m hoping that we find out, but for right now, I’m just along for the ride.

It’s too early to tell if there’s going to be a Season 2, but I certainly hope so.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?

Amazing Stuff

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

I was recently watching a stand up comedy routine by Louis CK, and he went on a rant about all the amazing things around us.  He talked about how amazing cell phones are, and how we complain when texts don’t make it immediately or cell phone coverage is spotty, and how amazing it is that we have this at all.

I remember rotary phones.  I remember being tethered to the wall, and when I wanted to talk on the phone, not being able to go too far.  I remember how excited I was when we got an extra long cord so I could walk around while talking on the phone.  Then cordless phones!  How amazing were they?  I remember being excited because I could go pretty far from the base station.

I wonder who first thought it was a good idea to talk on a cell phone in a public restroom.  Technology is good, but there are definitely some issues with it.

I remember the days when I had to go somewhere to rent a movie, and then had to rewind it before taking it back.  And if I got it not rewound, then that further delayed my movie watching experience.  Nowadays, the worst thing that might happen is that Netflix would crash.

I remember wanting a book and not knowing where to get it.  The guy I was dating at the time went to Waldenbooks and they ordered it for me (which was very sweet).  Now, between Amazon and Ebay, I can pretty much find any book or CD I want.  And speaking of CDs, remember when an import was a big deal?  I remember feeling very worldly that I was able to acquire a copy of Moxy Fruvous Bargainville.

Technology is amazing, but I think it’s made us a bit lazy.  Everything is too easy.  And maybe that’s why I like records.  I can’t control them from my cell phone.  On a lazy Sunday, there’s nothing like having to get up to flip the record every 4-5 songs.  I love the crackle that records add to the White Album.

At dinner recently, a couple and their four children were ALL looking at their cell phones!  Why?  Remember when eating out used to be a thing?  At least a semi-big deal?  I used to have to wait minutes for dial up or for a page to load.  Now I can get my cell phone out and have it all pretty much instantly.

Don’t lose touch with how cool all this stuff is.  Appreciate it.  Enjoy it.  Otherwise… what’s the point of having it?

Chromecast

by The TV Guy

So this week, I made the decision that I wanted to be able to watch anything I could pull up on my laptop, iPad, or iPhone directly on my television.  Having Internet connectivity on the television does allow for connectivity of applications that are offered, but this was not enough. As a recent member of Fox soccer2go, I have access to a library of European league football that otherwise I would not have access on my laptop or phone alone.

Google Chromecast allows for me to open it up on my computer and immediately sync it with my television. I was able to look at photos using the Roku and through other applications I was able to access Netflix or Hulu plus but I could not simply take what I was viewing and pop it up onto the screen. Now, viewing anything on my laptop on my TV is possible using chromecast. The up-side is that this little piece of hardware is only $35 and plugs right into an HDMI connection on the side of my new TV. I haven’t had this long enough to say if it’s good or not but I am able to do things today I was unable to do yesterday.

For those of you who are still in the “dark ages” of television this may be a great solution if your television has an HDMI plug in the back. You would be able to simply load up Netflix or Hulu plus on your laptop and connect to your television without the need for the purchase of a more expensive piece of hardware. Over the next few months I will periodically update everyone on the usefulness of this piece of hardware. But in all fairness, for 35 bucks, I don’t know what else you could buy that does the same thing.

Arrow

by The TV Guy

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Just so you know, Doree Weller chose the picture, not the TV Guy.

When spoiled billionaire playboy Oliver Queen returns after five years, he is not the same person who left all those years before. Presumed dead, he had been stranded on what was believed to be a deserted island in the north China Sea. Queen is forced to come to terms with who he is and who his father wants him to be. Queen’s father leaves behind a detailed list of all the criminals who have harmed the city he loved, with the expectation that his son will seek revenge. As a hooded vigilante armed with a bow and arrow, “the Arrow” sets forth to clean up corruption one criminal a time.

With all that said, we’re dealing with a cartoon character of sorts, a grown man running around looking like a modern-day Robin Hood referred to by the local media on the show as “the hood”. All in all, this is an average show with lots of fighting and lots of shooting; it has all the things that would keep the standards of the CW network interested. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it about 6 1/2 but if this is your genre, that number is likely to go up.

If you’re looking for something that’s action-packed and mindless, give the Arrow a look; it’s currently on Netflix. Be sure to start with episode one; otherwise the show is really odd and potentially difficult to follow.

Whisker Wars

by The TV Guy

Unknown-1Just when you thought that they had run out of show ideas they come up with another winner. Whisker Wars is all about the growing sport of bearding. This show follows different hairy competitors from around the world as they compete for fame and glory. The U.S. has put together a strong team for the international competitions in Europe. This is the oddest show I have seen in a while. The men all gather together in local chapters of beard growing clubs and fight for the best beards and mustaches. There are many different categories they compete in and they take it as serious as any other sportsmen would take their sport. If you never thought that facial hair was a sport than take a look. It is currently on Netflix streaming for your viewing pleasure.

Roku 3

by The TV Guy

Well when I heard the new Roku was coming out, I made my way to the local Best Buy, but much to my chagrin, they had none. The young man attempted to sell me the 2d version, desperately selling it like it was the latest thing going. I looked at him and asked, “No Roku 3’s yet?” His face dropped a little like he had been caught. I thanked him and moved on. I ordered it from the Roku folks themselves and had it in hand 3 days later.

The new unit, much like the old, allows for connection to Netflix and Hulu Plus, along with the ever-lengthening list of other channels they offer. I had looked into the Apple TV, but it did not have some of the little things I liked about the Roku. The set-up was easy and the remote has been redesigned so that the batteries don’t fall out after a lot of use. The one feature I really like is that it has a jack for headphones so I can hear the TV without waking up the wife. Clear crisp sound, a 1080 picture, and ease of use, makes the Roku 3 a must have for the TV person who needs just a little bit more.