Dana Carvey: Straight White Male, 60 – Review

Image via newonnetflix.info

This guy still makes me laugh.

Dana Carvey hasn’t done much stage work over the years and that is sad. This Netflix special is a fantastic display of the comic’s talent. Time has not dulled Carvey’s sense of humor or his ability to deliver it. If anything it has given him more insight and material. The comic already had an impressive reservoir  to work with and this special only shows that it has deepened.

There are few styles or topics Carvey will not employ in order entertain. Anything from telling a joke about the Apple store, singing a mock Italian song about space travel, or an impersonation of Barack Obama explaining the Middle East. Much of the humor is politically oriented but equal in that he makes fun of both Democrats and Republicans. For me, the special’s best parts were when he talked about his own life.  It may be that the stories are exaggerated but it is hilarious to hear about his travel experiences and past gigs he has done. The part when he discusses his Millennial children is perhaps my favorite. Hearing his experiences with them were funny on their own but they made me think of people I know and that made me laugh even harder.

Watching Dana Carvey’s special was both nostalgic and fresh.  Other than a reference to making the original Wayne’s World movie and reviving The Church Lady for a corporate gig he doesn’t speak about his past material. The vast majority of the special is based around his life after his heyday and Saturday Night Live work. Given that he is now sixty, it could be that having raised his children is what has kept him in tune and on the pulse of what is going on.

Being old enough to have seen Carvey as a regular on Saturday Night Live gives me an appreciation for seeing him again. His absence probably wasn’t very noticeable given that things change and people have access to comedy, and other entertainment, outside of television and movies, for which Carvey is most known for. Doing a Netflix special may have been the best move for him at this point since it is a newer delivery method and one that is readily accessible to both new and old audiences.

On a personal note, Dana Carvey is a long time favorite of mine. I even enjoyed some of those movies that he did that weren’t so good but I tried to enjoy his performance more than the overall movie. He was an early idol to me and I always wanted to be able to do impersonations like him. I don’t know if he plans on doing any more of these specials but I sure hope so.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 – Review

Image via instantwatcher.com

Still hilarious after all these years.

Dave Chappelle had been absent from the comedy stage for years but he is back in triumphant fashion delivering humor as only he can. Beware that Mr. Chappelle makes generous use of a certain racially divisive word but if you have ever heard or seen him before you are well aware this fact. For those that are not familiar with his previous work then you best be prepared.

The first episode, entitled The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live the Hollywood Palladium, takes Chappelle to L.A. for his first stage performance there in ten years. He takes the time to regale the audience with tales and jokes on every topic from O.J. Simpson to his own run-ins with the law. The second episode, entitled Deep in the Heart of Texas: Dave Chappelle Live at Austin City Limits, takes Chappelle to Texas. No topic is safe as he talks about his family, drug use, and having snowballs thrown at him.

Dave Chappelle is a unique man in the world of comedy. Many people get turned off by how much he talks about racism but I don’t. It much reminds me of the way Mel Brooks portrayed itin Blazing Saddles. Some consider that the most offensive movie of all time, however how racism is played out in that film shows how faulty and unnecessary it really is. This is how I view Chappelle’s use of racism. He as a successful black man, a public figure,  surely has been subjected to his share of racism. Rather than let it bring him down he stands in front of us all and puts it on display in fantastic fashion. Never is it done in the prose that he should be felt bad for the things that have happened to him. Rather, it is more in the stance that we need to recognize it and do something about it.

Chappelle is one of few voices willing to be bold about his stance. Perhaps he is too bold at times for some to stand. I kind of cringe when he uses certain language but I don’t think he is using to offend anybody. On the contrary, I think he may be using certain words in order to exhaust them. If there ever were a more socially conscience and aware comic, I must have missed that person. Chappelle seems not only to want to entertain but enlighten. His absence from public life could have questionably been caused by his own feelings of trying to make things better in his own way but being ostracized for it. Seeing him back in action and still in form is a welcome site.

Please Dave Chappelle, keep doing what you are doing.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Extraction – Review

Image via imdb.com

Remember when Bruce Willis made good movies???

A CIA agent nearing the end of his career is sent on one last secret mission. He has had a fall from grace and this is his last chance to redeem himself. In contrast, his son has been working hard to rise through the ranks of the CIA to become a field agent like his father but he keeps getting passed over for the position. The father/son duo have had a strained relationship after the wife/mother was murdered years ago. Now the pair have a chance to come together again when the father’s mission apparently takes a wrong turn and the son takes it upon himself to save him.

Normally I would try to say something nice about a movie and go through all the positives. Here is the only positive – see that graphic I used at the top of this post? That has a great throwback vibe to it and screams of an old Steve McQueen movie. There.

What this movie ultimately turns out to be is a total disaster.  Bruce Willis all but mails in his performance and given how little his is actually in the movie, he must have only been on set for about a week. The rest of the cast doesn’t do much better but maybe its not completely their fault. There is supposed to be a romance element in this movie but the pair involved in it pull it off in the most uncomfortable and unbelievable fashion as if they are step-brother and step-sister. As far as the dialogue overall goes, not only is it delivered poorly, it was written poorly. Maybe the delivery was bad because the actors were reading it during their takes thinking to themselves “is this right?”. If you are looking for plot just keep looking. The setup and rollout of the story is not only unbelievable but somewhat ridiculous. There is a machine capable of taking over major communications systems that can be operated by a common street thug. Kind of like the world’s most versatile smartphone.

This movie is a big step in the Nicholas Cage direction of films for Bruce Willis. I don’t think this movie ever had a theatrical release and it may not have even been direct to DVD. This one could have gone straight to forgotten and then Netflix got the streaming rights on the cheap. Granted that at this point in his career, Bruce Willis can make his choice of films. The question is why he would agree to do this film. There is no great direction in this film or deep meaning. The only passing thought is that he was trying to do a friend a solid by being in their movie.

The hour and a half I spent on this movie feels like a waste. As much as I love Mr. Willis and all he has done in his career, I cannot endorse this movie in any way. At least with the lower tier Nicholas Cage movies I can get some entertainment, this movie just left me sad about where Bruce Willis is at with himself. In hind-sight, I should have started watching Breaking Bad before watching this movie and then I would have never even seen it. (P.S. – Breaking Bad is damn good even though I’m only four episodes into it.)

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Luke Cage – Season 1 – Review

marvel-luke-cage-posterAs strong as Luke Cage is, it may be that the Marvel universe is getting weak.

Many will know that this take of Luke Cage is a direct off-shoot from the Daredevil series that Netflix also produced. The main character was introduced in said series and it also brings a few cross-overs. The same New York exists here that also existed in the Avenger movies. What seems odd is that although those events are referenced it seems that it has little to no effect on this environment. This left the series somewhat disconnected even with the direct ties that it had. Then again, this a problem Daredevil had as well so it shouldn’t be held against the Luke Cage series alone.

What we do get is something that is well intended but in many cases misses the mark. In Luke Cage we have a tragically flawed and tortured hero that doesn’t want to be a hero. A far too familiar superhero theme that is not played to its best in this series. One of the issues with the show is how long it takes to develop the main characters. What seemed to be important characters at the start of the series were thrown away earlier than expected and the pay off for doing so never came through. Other characters and their intentions are strung out too far when compared to their overall impact at the end of the first season. The season struggled with a pacing issue across its entirety and several episodes were microcosms of this problem. There were times that the show became nearly a pain to endure only to have a triumphant payoff at the end. Cliffhangers and anticipation could have been better used in the series and episodes.

Even with all of its issues, the series shows a great deal of promise. Despite the long drawn out reveal and setup of Luke Cage, Mike Colter plays a charismatic and affable role. He may be one of the best reasons to watch the show as to enjoy his performance. Along with his performance, Netflix continues to show that it has a solid production model with the sights and sounds of this show being some of the best do date in one of its original series. A huge tip of the hat goes to the soundtrack of this series not only for its selection and variety but more so for its placement and usage with the visuals of the show. The ways music and sound were used to draw the viewer in and convey emotion and intent were nothing short of inspired.

The most worrisome part of this series may be something outside of it. There is an over abundance of Marvel properties in release and in production at this point that we are nearing or may be at a saturation point. There will be a point at which the returns diminish for both we as viewers for enjoyment and studios for profit. It is somewhat sad to think that this show for all its merit may be at the fulcrum point not for its own doing but for its timing.

Personally, as much as I wanted to like the show I can’t help but feel that it left something on the table. There was a lot of hype for the show and that certainly did not help. If taken as a standalone product, outside of the overall Marvel universe, this could have been a more enjoyable series. It has many things going for it and even with as good as it was it still has room for vast improvements. Take the time to watch and enjoy it, knowing that at times it will not be everything it is capable of.

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Paul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Typer of Words, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

Thoughts on Jessica Jones

jessica-jonesI want to say that I enjoyed watching this show but the fact that I have to think about whether I did not says that I really didn’t. However, I still feel as though I can’t say I didn’t enjoy. Perhaps I should say I feel unfulfilled by it.

The latest addition to the ever growing juggernaut that is the Marvel cinematic universe, Jessica Jones, has potential at times but pacing is its most noticeable issue. To say that it starts slow and takes time to get going isn’t accurate since the show never really seems to make a lot of movement. Even when it does, much of it is lateral and does little to move the story or characters forward. There are times when the show seeming stumbles on itself and ends causing confusion rather then clarity. This is particularly apparent when the backstory is being developed and flashbacks are cut in multiple times but different views. One time you get the heroine’s side of it then you see the villain’s, I would have preferred just to see the scene play out completely rather then have to go back to re-examine it.

Production value is solid and stands up to any other entry to the Marvel universe. The easy comparison is to the other Netflix series, Daredevil, but it compare better to the Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.. Daredevil has a grittier and darker approach, where as Jessica Jones is brighter and dialogue driven. Just as the movies have done, there is a strong inclination that the Netflix shows will cross into each other at some point.

Not to give anything away, but the end of the first season lacked closure. When the final credits started rolling I had the feeling of “but you didn’t wrap anything up”. Perhaps this was supposed to leave me in suspense and eager to see more but it gave me that feeling that I had wasted the hours I invested in the show already. That’s not to say I won’t watch the next season when they release it but I’m not going to be sitting around waiting for it.

 

 

dudewantshisrug-profilePaul Novak

Owner, Proprietor, Writer, Gamer, Jester

A self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing on the western side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet.

McHail’s Navy

McHale's NavyWatching this movie now, I still don’t understand how it wasn’t a HUGE hit!!!

John McHale left the Navy in disgust over a few things. Things like how his superiors treated him and his men. He has retired to an island paradise that is very close to the Naval base where his former crew is stationed. Making his living as a seller of merchandise ranging from beer to ice cream to calendars may not seem like much of a way to make a living, but McHale’s heart is ultimately in the right place though as he uses his earnings to support the island locals. This peace and tranquility is halted when terrorist take over the island as the home base of their operations. The lead terrorist, Vladikov, is an old acquaintance and the two are soon pitted against each other when McHale is recruited back to the Navy and charged with stopping the terrorist threat in the area.

Hollywood suckles upon itself yet again for more content bringing you this movie based on a 1960’s era television show about the mis-adventures of a Navy crew in World War II. Less than twenty years after the war it was based on may have seemed too soon to be making fun of the war but waiting thirty years after the series ran to reuse the content seems cheap. I had seen some of the original series and if you put it in the time and place it was made in it was funny. Trying to bring that same humor to a more modern time had to be a difficult task and on-screen it fell short. In the end it felt like the movie basically used the title for name recognition. The humor was somewhat of a rip of and didn’t playoff as well. The names and location seemed like the only things that carried over from the show without feeling fake. Even all the star power packed into this movie could not save it. Put in perspective of its 1997 release, the cast should have been a big draw. Tom Arnold led the cast but was completed by the likes of David Alan Grier, Dean Stockwell, Debra Messing, and Tim Curry.

With all that said, I still laughed when I watched it. The humor was funny at least to me. Maybe it didn’t hit other people the same. You have to step back and realize that the humor was trying to work in that space in between realistic and cartoonish. Do you really expect a diving suit to fill up like a balloon in real life? Reusing the McHale’s Navy name wasn’t necessary for this. It could have just as well been called “The Caribbean Cruisers”.

Go ahead and watch the movie if you Netflix. It a fairly wholesome comedy that really won’t offend people. Not sure that I’d recommend putting out money for a disc copy though.

Star Wars: The Cloned Wars

Star Wars: The Clone WarsStars Wars fans should both love and loath this series. Possible spoilers ahead, don’t say you weren’t warned.

I’ll assume that if you are reading this you have some familiarity with the Star Wars series. Episodes I, II, and III were the prequels that George Lucas treated us to. There was also an animated movie called Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The movie was set in the time period between episode two and three. The animated series is a continuation of that movie and continues on in the time line towards episode three. There are some interesting  story lines covered in the series but there are also some that are not so interesting.

First, the good things. The animation and sound work is great throughout the entire series. All episodes have the look and feel of the movies. Many familiar characters are presented as well through out the series. A good bit of back story is unfolded that is not covered in the movies. The most interesting to me was the story line for Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano. Her story stretches almost the entire length of the six seasons of the series and concluded in a manner that I didn’t expect. Since the character of Ahsoka was not present in episode three, I knew her arc had to end somewhere in the series. It was also interesting to see more of the back story of how the Chancellor/Emperor was manipulating both sides at nearly every turn.

Next, the not so good things. The representation of Anakin Skywalker in the series was too different from that of the character portrayal in the movies. He seems almost too likable and affable at times and didn’t have that darker demeanor as he did in the movies. Unfortunately, the series feels somewhat unfinished. I don’t blame the people in charge of the show for this but rather the fact that Lucas sold out to Disney and they promptly pulled the plug on the series. At least they did release the remaining episodes that had already been produced. Most likely though, we will not be seeing any further installments to help end to story lines. Worst part of the series??? Jar-Jar Binks, me’s a be thinking they’s a not needing this character, be better done with outs him I says.

So you want to watch this for yourself? Be ready to set some quality and quantity time aside. With six seasons that have about twelve episodes at twenty minutes each it will take you a quite a few hours, so be prepared. I watch the entire series over the course of a week on Netflix. Amazon has it several options available. There is a box set available in either DVD or Blu-Ray but it only has seasons one through five. If you want a complete set you’ll probably have to wait. If you don’t want to be burdened with discs then you can buy the digital copy from Amazon as well.