February was definitely a month of films for me. I ended up watching about fifteen of them! This surprises me a little bit because my ADHD tends to make it impossible for me to sit through anything longer than an hour. Because of that, TV shows and anime are the best forms of entertainment for my consumption (aside from video games, of course). So, when I sat down and went through the list of all the stuff I watched last month, I was coloured with astonishment and a mild feeling of being impressed with myself.
Most of the films that I indulged in were action flicks and thrillers. I have not been able to read anything other than SFF, but with respect to other media, horror and suspense have been my go-to genre when I can get my hands on it. It’s nice because it helps me to completely check out of reality for the short while that I’m watching things. It’s a newly discovered form of self-care (a back-up for when my regular routine doesn’t work out) and I’ve been digging it quite a bit. Plus, when you’re on bedrest, there’s little else to do aside from streaming a bunch of stuff and reading…or napping.
Anyhoo, I’ve included very brief snippets about the stuff I saw, along with where I streamed it and whether I gave it a Recommended, Not Recommended, or Indifferent rating. I stopped giving actual numerical scores to everything I consume because it helps to simplify things for me and allows me to focus on the enjoyment without bogging it down with too much technical dissection (which works for me on a personal level and is not a judgement on folx who choose to go the other route). I’ll start with the films and then list off the TV serials. (Anime wrap-ups shall happen at the end of the Winter season as I’m trying something a little bit different this year with regards to it.)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) [HBO]: An epic fantasy film about an anti-social hobbit dude that gets his life turned upside down when a huge group of rambunctious dwarves show up at his house and shanghai him into an epic adventure of vengeance (for the film specifically, not the book). This was my first time watching this since I initially saw it in theatres. It has not aged well at all. In fact, it’s a whole lot worse than I remember it being, which is shocking because I remember it being atrocious as the Seven Hells of despair to begin with. What a waste of film… What should have been one film, maybe two, was completely mutilated so that it could be a film trilogy. To top it off, the production quality of this thing is absolutely horrendous. Yeah… NOT RECOMMENDED at all.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) [HBO]: The fantasy adventure continues with a bunch more bullshit that’s not in the book at all! Yeah… I did watch the sequel, but that’s only because I love Smaug in the book, and I wanted to see if Mirkwood Forest still freaked me the fuck out (spoiler alert: it totally did; fuck spiders). I honestly don’t know what’s worse about this film: the fact that it exists at all, the god awful makeup used, or that ending. The ending which doesn’t actually end until five minutes into the third film, which should’ve been the end for film two… Yeah, NOT RECOMMENDED (no surprise there; also, I listened to my better judgement and didn’t bother re-watching the third film; just couldn’t put myself through that agony again).
Kong: Skull Island (2017) [HBO]: An action-fantasy film that takes place in the 1970s where a bunch a of curious scientists and former soldiers-without-a-life-purpose end up crashing onto an island and discover that monsters do, in fact, exist. I know I watched this last month (January), but it’s such a great fucking film, especially from a cinematography perspective, that I couldn’t resist watching it again. Plus, this time I saw it with my housemate to prepare for the forthcoming new addition that’s scheduled to hit HBO at the end of this month (fuck yeah!). Excellent action and gorgeous scenery, combined with good music and a nice balance of science vs military point-of-views (morally speaking) all make this film completely worth the watch, even if you’re not a big King Kong or Godzilla fanatic (like me). RECOMMENDED.
Geostorm (2017) [HBO]: An action sci-fi flick where humanity has found a way to control the weather in an effort to save the planet, but it all goes terribly wrong when that technology (and massive coalition of satellites) are hijacked by malevolent people for stupid malevolent reasons. I can’t resist a good disaster film. Too bad this isn’t it. While it’s not fantastic in terms of the actual disaster stuff (I was expecting more chaotic scenery and things getting fucked-up via the ocean or storms, etc.), it does pose an interesting question as to whether having that much control of our weather systems is a good idea or just one asking for disaster (ha ha, get it?). If you’re looking for a super good, in-depth action film with strong themes, then you should pass on this one. But if you’re looking for an entertaining film with nice action sequences and a dysfunctional family that finds a way to move past their bullshite—so something that doesn’t take itself too seriously—then I RECOMMEND this. It’s pleasant and chill to watch, which is great for a night of unwinding effortlessly.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) [HBO]: A slasher remake of the 1981 original film of the same name, this one follows folx living in a small mining town that is harassed by a serial killer decked out in full retro mining gear who’s going around murdering everyone and their mum around Valentine’s Day. I have no idea how to describe this slasher flick aside from painful. I originally picked it up on a whim because I had never seen it and I thought it would be cool to watch while I work. I didn’t get any work done because I was too busy laughing and cringing at the horrid acting, the terrible writing, and those 3D fatalities… Man, I think Friday the 13th Part III (also had a 3D gimmick) did it much, much better and that’s almost thirty years older. This film was so bad, and not even in a good way. It was just bad. That’s an hour and a half to two hours I’ll never get back… As it stands NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL. You want a tacky slasher film with cheesy 3D elements? Watch Friday the 13th Part III, a much better film by all accounts.
The Mummy (1999) [HBO]: An action-fantasy title taking place in the 20s in Egypt, following a librarian, her useless brother, and a former war prisoner who all embark on a journey to the ancient city of Hamunaptra where they accidentally awaken a cursed mummy that sucks people dry while bringing about plagues of havoc. I love this film. It’s one of my top five favourite films of all-time actually. I make a point of re-watching it at least once a month or every other month (so you’ll see it frequently in these wrap-ups). They really don’t make creature features like this anymore. It has fantastic special effects, good balance of humour with spooky action, marvellous pacing, great acting, and an awesome musical score. I love everything about it and the sequel. This is on HBO for a short time (along with the two sequels, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King), so if you’ve a subscription, I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you check it out! (I watched it twice in February.)
The Mummy Returns (2001) [HBO]: This action-fantasy film takes place eight years after the events of the first film and follows a sexy librarian and her husband after their son is kidnapped in order to awaken a long-slumbering deity who’s going to bring about the next apocalypse. Everything that I loved about the first film (above), is taken up to the next notch in this sequel. There’s a sultry and kick-ass fight between two beautiful ladies, lots more action and mayhem, continued pacing that is perfectly on par with the story, and an added emotional element in the second half that just makes this a beaut of a film to watch. Whenever I watch The Mummy, I almost always make a point of watching the sequel too. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Transporter (2001) [Cinemax/Prime]: An action film about a businessman who transports packages or people for a fee with a strict code of guidelines, or rules, that he never breaks. Then one day, he breaks one of his rules and gets caught up in a whole mess of shit, including people trying to kill him for what he discovers. This was recommended to me as I really liked Statham in The Meg. I liked the action and the character known as The Transporter, but I had some issues with the representation and exposition of the Asian characters. The racist micro-aggressions bothered me the most, plus the acting was rather subpar all around. It’s entertaining if you want a 2000s action flick that doesn’t require too much brain power to watch, but there are better films out there that may fit that action thirst better. Overall, I feel INDIFFERENT about it.
Seven (1995) [HBO]: A crime thriller about a cop that’s about to retire and a rookie cop who just moved into town that get pulled into a disturbing case about a serial killer that is centring his crimes on the seven deadly sins. If you want a super gritty and atmospheric crime thriller to watch, then this is a good one. It is very creepy and discomforting, to say the least. It’s a slower-paced watch as the case unfolds in a methodical manner. We watch the cops trying to figure out what the killer is trying to portray via their crimes and it’s pretty fascinating all-around. I do feel, however, that Seven would make a better limited series TV show as it could take its time really centring on the different sins and the deaths that encapsulate each one of them. That would just make it much more fleshed out (pun mildly intended) and intriguing. My only real complaint is that once the ending was revealed, the whole thing came off as slightly rushed. Plus, if the killer had time to build rapport with a very vital individual, the impact of the scene that involves them both would’ve been far more powerful, I believe. Still, I RECOMMEND this to folx that like dark and disturbing crime thrillers.
Safe House (2012) [HBO]: An action-thriller about a low-level CIA peon in Cape Town who’s in charge of a safe house where the agency is interrogating a former agent that betrayed the CIA and became one of their most-wanted dudes. When the safe house is attacked, the newbie ends up on the run with the fugitive agent. As they evade killers, the newbie agent starts to wonder who the real criminals truly are. The focus of the film is on corruption and how it can run pretty high up into the chain. The lower members are always the ones considered to be the most expendable. I enjoyed the way it was presented with the rookie learning the ins-and-outs of this agency via hands-on experience and how to tell when he’s being manipulated. The acting was far better than I expected it to be. Ryan Reynolds (rookie cop) and Denzel Washington (fugitive agent) have wonderful chemistry and worked very well together. Overall, if you’re into action thrillers about corruption, then I definitely RECOMMEND this one to you.
The Watcher (2000) [Cinemax/Prime]: A psychological crime thriller about a retired cop that is in therapy after never having caught a serial killer that focuses on young women. Things take a turn for the dark and twisted when the cop realises that he’s being stalked and taunted by the killer he never caught. I picked this up because it had James Spader in it, and I love his acting versatility. This film really proves that even more. The emotion was really superb. The most shocking part of it, though, was watching Keanu Reeves playing the part of a creepy-as-fuck stalker-killer dude. His acting was… ugh, let’s just say that it gave me chills. There isn’t anything uniquely special about the film. It’s a pretty standard thriller about a cop going from the hunter to the hunted. It didn’t blow my mind or make me feel like I watched something super spectacular. As such, I’m rather INDIFFERENT about it as a whole. But if you’re into these kinds of narratives, and don’t mind dark, gritty content, then you may find this far more compelling than I did.
Crimson Peak (2015) [Cinemax/Prime]: A Gothic horror film about a young woman who marries a mysterious British man after her father dies. She then moves into his generations old home with him and his sister. Upon arriving, she starts having ghostly visions of a dark force residing within the mansion. This was a re-watch for me. My first experience with Crimson Peak was via the novelisation of the film (I think it’s better than the film, personally) and then when I watched it for the first time, it creeped me the hell out. I absolutely love del Toro’s use of practical effects in his works of horror fiction. No one does horror quite the way he does, and he completely nails the essence of true Gothic fiction with Crimson Peak (one of my favourite genres, by the way). I will always recommend this film to anyone looking for an excellent ghost story, particularly of the Gothic variety. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Redemption (2013) [Prime]: A British action-drama about an alcoholic veteran living on the streets as he fights to forget the atrocities committed in the war. When he befriends a Catholic nun and gets involved with a Chinese gang, he uses the opportunities presented to him to get clean and get revenge against a man that beats and kills prostitutes. This film was previously released as Hummingbird. I’m sad that it was a flop because I actually really liked this film. It’s difficult to watch because it tackles a lot of difficult subjects, such as using alcohol as a coping mechanism for PTSD, grief, and guilt; the long-lasting impact of child abuse (sexual); the exploitation of homeless people and sex workers and more. There are two broken people who come together for a short while and help one another heal and discover that their pain doesn’t have to be the defining factor of who they are as individuals. It’s such a powerful message and it works here because it’s shown through the lens of normal, everyday people. You really never know anything about the folx living on the streets or those that volunteer to help others; what demons they may be running away from or trying to fight off. I think as someone who has their own fair share of emotional trauma and baggage, it resonated on a much more intimate level than it may for some others. Either way, I definitely RECOMMEND this film for people looking for a slow-paced story with depth and heart that is bittersweet in many ways.
Kiss the Girls (1997) [Hulu]: A neo-noir psychological thriller about a forensic psychologist who goes to North Carolina from Washington D.C. after his niece is kidnapped. Once there, he learns that she’s the victim of a long line of young ladies who’ve been vanishing, some of whom have shown up dead. One of the missing women is found alive after she flees her captor(s), and works with the psychologist to help hunt down the culprit(s). Another excellent thriller but very difficult to watch, particularly for anyone who is cautious of kidnappings, rape (mentioned), and sexual molestation. When the film began, I felt everything was moving too fast, but once the ending arrived, I realised it’s just a fast-paced thriller and feels rushed because there’s constantly something going on. By the same token, it can also feel sluggish at times due to how certain scenes are shot/portrayed. Odd pacing dynamics aside, the story is good and mysterious. The culprit is super predictable, but only if you’ve seen the actor in other things (they almost always play an asshat of some sorts). That’s really my only true complaint, the ease of which the culprit can be pinpointed. Detracts from the suspense somewhat. Otherwise, it’s RECOMMENDED.
The Meg (2018) [Blu-Ray]: Scientists go digging around deeply in the oceanic trenches where they shouldn’t be poking their noses and in the process they unleash an ancient, prehistoric shark the size of a five story building. I love the Meg books. They are so cheesy and horrible, but in a great way. The film is one of my go-to flicks to watch when I want to unwind or just watch something in the background while I read or play low-key video games. Sometimes when I’m having a really bad day, I like to put it in and focus on it while I recite the lines (yes, I’ve seen it that many times already). It’s up there with The Mummy for my self-care films. There are so many inaccuracies in the film with respect to the megalodon, but it’s pure entertainment. It’s not made to be taken seriously at all and I dig it. In that respect, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. But if you want a genuinely good quality creature feature, you may have to look elsewhere (I recommend Crawl).
Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous Season 2 (2021) [Netflix]: The second season in a computer animated series about a group of teenagers who get trapped at the Jurassic World theme park and have to find a way to survive until they can get rescued or find a way off the island (this is canon to the Jurassic Park universe). Loved the first season so much. It’s both adorable and cute and charming, while also being suspenseful, mildly scary, and even a little emotional. It’s so cool to see how resourceful the kids are, but even more so to watch very different people coming together to build friendships and rapport that will outlast the very traumatic experience of being stuck on an island with a bunch of carnivorous dinosaurs. It’s perfect for adults and kids alike. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially if you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park films and books, and want more canonical media to engage with.
NCIS Seasons 2-3 (2004-05) [Netflix]: A crime drama about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the many military-related crimes that they solve. I’ve been re-watching this to catch up to the newer seasons because I heard one of my favourite characters makes her return. Season two’s ending always makes me sad because I loved the character that dies at the end of it. Season three is fun too, however, because watching Gibbs build rapport with a new member, and thus her building connections with everyone else, is endearing and funny. Plus, some of my favourite episodes of the series occur across these two seasons. RECOMMENDED if you enjoy dramedy crime shows, as you’ll probably enjoy this one too.
Bones Seasons 11-12 (2016-17) [Hulu]: Another crime drama, this one follows a forensic anthropologist that works with an FBI agent to solve crimes involving skeletal remains. These were the final two seasons and, honestly speaking, I didn’t care for it much. I think once they showed the potential for Booth dying, which caused a big brief separation between all the characters, the show lost a lot of its appeal. The comedy and the connection between everyone just wasn’t the same after that, not to mention the writing took a huge dip in quality, and I had much less fun with it. When I got to the final episode, I actually felt relieved it was over, which is sad. For these two seasons specifically, I DO NOT RECOMMEND them at all.
Stargate SG-1 Season 4 (2000) [Netflix]: A military sci-fi series about teams of Air Force members who go through an intergalactic gateway to travel between planets and explore the galaxy. Season Four is one of the best seasons of Stargate ever. It has the vast majority of my favourite episodes. The humour was its peak. The development of the relationships between SG-1 members, and SG-1’s relationships with others—so much of this season was basically flawless. I would’ve finished Season Five as well, but… let’s just say, I’m not emotionally prepared for the second to last episode of that season yet (if you know, you know). If I had to make a recommendation based off this season alone, then it would be FUCK YES, IT’S RECOMMENDED!
Well, that does it for my February TV and film shenanigans wrap-up! For March, I’m going to try to watch more of the BBC shows that have been on my watchlist for ages and ages, and I’m also going to continue my mischief with films. I figured that while my brain is able to hold still for these lengthier watching periods, I should take supreme advantage of it!
Have you seen any of these films or shows? What are some things you’ve seen recently that you’d really recommend?