Watching Amazon Prime in June 2018 had its fair share of good and not so great TV shows and movies.
Into the Badlands (Season 1) [6/10]
Into the Badlands (Season 2) [6/10]
AMC is known for the hyped The Walking Dead series, and Into the Badlands is another TV show based on a series of comic books that has the potential to be great. It actually has everything one loves about martial arts movies: lots of fighting with hands, feet, and all sorts of edgy weapons. The choreography is spot-on and the violence is over-the-top bloody with hacking off body parts. Unfortunately, it’s not all great. Despite the interesting idea of having various warring factions in a post-apocalyptic world, one shouldn’t forget about characters one can relate to and a story that is engaging enough, and it’s here where the series runs into trouble. It’s clear that with only 6 episodes for the first season, not a lot of development can be expected, but at least a bit more sympathetic characters would have been nice. As it is, everything is presented in such a bleak way that there aren’t any good guys or gals. This wouldn’t be a problem if more was happening and fewer clichés would be used. So despite very cool fight scenes and a lot of bloodshed, this left me as cold as Outcast I reviewed in the Netflix watchlist: April 2018 article, only that at least there’s enough action here.
The second season brings the apocalyptic vision into Mad Max territory, and despite offering even more bloody violence (the 16+ age rating for most of the season is obviously a joke), the series still suffers from a major flaw: taking itself too seriously. Maybe that’s not exactly true, as Nick Frost (known for the British comedies Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) serves for comic relief, but as most of the story revolves around revenge and betrayal with the ensuing bloodshed, his one-liners feel a bit out of place. So what is actually the problem I have with the show? After all, it has everything I like about martial arts action. It’s mainly the cheap setting and some annoying characters, the most prominent one being the young boy/man who is as charismatic as a sour cucumber. But even if one could live with all the overacting, over-dramatic scenes, and characters that are difficult to like, the story itself remains as uninteresting as ever, because the whole feuding clans thing is anything but original. So hopefully the third season will finally do something more interesting with the apocalyptic background and a more mysterious storyline that actually offers surprises.
Blair Witch [6/10]
Blair Witch Project was a hyped movie in the 90ies that I simply couldn’t get. It was a boring trip into the woods where nothing happens. Even if it started the whole found footage mania and I could get my head around the story of people investigating the mystery of a witch, I couldn’t see this as anything more than just a hoax everyone bought in. The sequel, while criticized by most, was a much more enjoyable affair, as it was more like a movie with an actual story and characters. Now Blair Witch isn’t the most accomplished sequel, as the same problems of annoying characters and bad camera work crop up for half of its running time. But the final parts more than make up for it. Of course there is an abundance of CGI and one finally sees the witch that would be disappointing for some who thought she should remain a mystery, but it’s well-made and almost scary. Nothing compared to what survival horror games like Outlast, Outlast: Whistleblower, and Outlast II already did to much greater success, but considering the source material, it’s definitely a step up.
There seems to be a wide misconception that US remakes are always worse than the originals, especially Japanese movies. As I’m always open to new interpretations, I liked the first Ring more than what it was based on, the sequel not so much. Rings received some very bad press, but it’s actually quite entertaining. Granted, it feels more like a slasher movie at first and there are more than enough unnecessary scenes with characters one simply doesn’t care about. But what is revealed later and how violent the finale becomes almost serves as an excuse for most of the pacing and characterization problems. It’s not a must-see, but it’s also not an avoid-at-all-costs horror flick, either.
Sometimes, there are good and bad days, and the same holds true for streaming services like Amazon Prime. So even if June 2018 didn’t have any real highlights, it provided a few entertaining hours and also saved money, considering how much one would have spent buying the individual TV shows or movies.
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