‘Fists and Fun: What You’re Missing on NETFLIX… and then some.’
THE PUNISHER, Season 2
(2019, TV-MA, 13 episodes, MARVEL STUDIOS/NETFLIX)
Netflix put the MCU on the map for the small screen with their Hell’s Kitchen crew. It may be a shame that they are relinquishing the helm but THE PUNISHER (if also moving away) leaves Netflix with a bang. Jon Bernthal returns with Amber Rose Revah and Ben Barnes to continue where they left off. This may seem a tired story, vigilante hunting down the baddies, but you would miss out on so much fists and fun if you think to skip this season. These brutal episodes are gripping, bloody, and filled with so much inner turmoil that you cannot look away. Know that there is a tight story filled with plenty of moments for each character to shine in their own light. They leave nothing behind.
(2019, TV-MA, 118 minutes, CONSTANTIN FILM/DARK HORSE ENTERTAINMENT)
This is a ‘must see’ joyride. In the line of CRANK and SMOKIN’ACES, but done way better on certain levels, you get Mads Mikkelsen (CASINO ROYALE and “Hannibal”) as Duncan Vizla. Vizla is a highly skilled assassin who is looking to retire from the organization he works for. Of course, there are big payouts he is due and the head, Mr. Blunt, has no intentions of paying. Blunt sends an assorted cast of oddball assassins after him to make sure Vizla does not collect his retirement. Director Jonas Åkerlund has had a quiet career behind the camera that should now be launched into the mainstream after this. At least, it better. His ability to show versatility in creating a number of varied settings, action sequences that keep your eyes glued to the screen, and a cast of wild characters to parade around a very docile Vizla makes for a great evening of ‘Netflix and chill’.
GODZILLA: THE PLANET EATER
(2018, UR, 91 minutes, POLYGON PICTURES/TOHO ANIMATION)
This is the continuing of anime Godzilla as you have never seen before… unless you’ve seen their previous films – GODZILLA: PLANT OF THE MONSTERS (2017) and GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE (2018). This story is placed in a futuristic timeline, where the Godzilla has pushed the human race into space. Humans have returned to Earth and are hoping to find a way to kill Godzilla and reclaim the planet. If you couldn’t guess for this film, they were not successful in their first two attempts. Now, a new threat from a new religion inspired by the ‘stars’ wishes to summon a ‘planet destroyer’. This is where the genius of the writing comes in – a new take on King Ghidorah. If nothing else, this movie will help fuel your need for the new live action sequel coming this year, with… King Ghidorah and others.
(2019, TV-MA, 8 episodes, ELEVEN/NETFLIX)
So, we have a new way to introduce or children to ‘sex’. No, not really. I kid. This is way beyond that early childhood talk. Maybe even past a teenager’s understanding. But still a very enlightening way to break so many boundaries we have maintained in this puritanically based society. Starring Asa Butterfield (ENDER’S GAME), Gillian Anderson (“X-Files”), and newer to the scene supporting stars Ncuti Gatwa and Emma Mackey. Otis (Asa) is the son of a very active and dutiful sex therapist, Jean (Gillian). Thus, we get a teenager’s nightmare of awkward situations at ever turn. Instead of struggling with his familial predicament, and having found that he has become a savant at helping other teenagers with those ‘special issues’, he begins giving advise to other kids at school. The solid writing and clever ways of weaving in other viewpoints allows for enlightenment for those that struggle with the close-minded world they have come to know and surround themselves with.
And, to add to the mix, one to find on AMAZON PRIME
LEAVE NO TRACE
(2018, PG, 109 minutes, BRON STUDIOS/CREATIVE WEALTH MEDIA FINANCE/HARRISON PRODUCTIONS)
Starring Thomasin McKenzie (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES) and Ben Foster (HELL OR HIGH WATER and 3:10 TO YUMA), the story follows Will (Foster) and his daughter Tom/Thomasin (McKenzie). Will is a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has withdrawn from society as a way to cope with his issue. They have made a home in a national park in Oregon, and not in the traditional sense. While growing up and living in an isolated camp, Will teaches her about survival as well as providing a full education. Things turn for the worse, they are discovered by the authorities, and are forced back into the civilian world. Will’s psyche cannot handle it and spirals while trying to be understanding of his daughter’s needs. Director Debra Granik (of WINTER’S BONE) does a fabulous job visually telling this tale. This is another pairing with Anne Rosellini on the screenplay and they do it justice. They make a great team. Never once do you question Will’s love for his daughter, but you can see he is unable to get past his inner demons. This journey is powerful, and its eloquence is not burdened by the need of forced Hollywood drama into the story arc. That is what makes this work on more than one level, by keeping to a sense of realism and put a spotlight on a horrible condition, barring a better word to describe PTSD.
--- James S. Austin