Rapid Fire Movie and TV Reviews (Jan. 2023)


Photo courtesy of IGN


Photo courtesy of Netflix
Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Wednesday” came out of nowhere for me. I had never heard of it before, and suddenly the show became an online sensation. For a solid month, it became the talk of the internet to the point where finding discussions about it became unavoidable. So was this show worth all the hype and praise?


While this show isn’t bad, I can’t really say it’s exactly good. The show kind of just feels like your average run-of-the-mill Tim Burton project. The show is creepy, kooky, and a little spooky, but that’s pretty much all it really has to offer. The overarching mystery is frankly unsatisfying to see unfold, most of the characters are painfully one-dimensional, and the show is a letdown visually.

For a mystery show, “Wednesday” fails to make its central conundrum even remotely engaging. It feels more like a constant stream of misdirections than an interesting mystery. Unlike something like “Knives Out,” where the mystery is engaging all the way through because the story is slowly unfolded, “Wednesday” mostly opts to present a prime suspect every episode and then drop them in the next. It just feels like the show is trying more to misdirect you than have a well thought out mystery.

Outside of Wednesday herself, pretty much every character is shallow and forgettable.

Each of the characters mostly has one personality trait and one purpose throughout the show, and it makes the entire cast feel more like caricatures.

Even Wednesday herself isn’t particularly well written, in my opinion. She essentially follows the Batman template of being a dark and brooding detective who puts up a hard wall for others but ends up showing a soft spot. That isn’t inherently bad, but it just feels somewhat redundant and unoriginal here. It also doesn’t help that the monster of the show looks hilarious and like he just jumped out of a bad “Rick and Morty” episode.

“Wednesday” also lacks any distinct visual style, which is especially disappointing considering Burton’s past works with “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Batman,” and more. I’ve pretty much come to expect most of Burton’s projects to have lackluster writing at best, but even his worst projects, like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Dark Shadows,” at least have pretty visuals. “Wednesday” feels very bland and uninspired by comparison. 

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the borderline creepy online craze surrounding this show.

The fanbase has become a pack of wild animals. I’ve witnessed people get torn to shreds online for offering even the most minor of criticisms online. Even worse has been the craze behind the star of the show, Jenna Ortega. For months now, people have been relentlessly sexualizing her, and it’s become genuinely weird and creepy.

All in all, this show has garnered a lot of attention but almost none of it is deserved. The sexual harassment of Jenna Ortega and the weird cult this show has cultivated has only made this “Wednesday” even more undesirable.

Score: 5/10

Streaming on Netflix


Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb

“Velma” is the worst big-budget show I have ever seen.

I do not kid. I do not hyperbolize. “Velma” is offensively bad, and is everything wrong with adult animation today.

It is legitimately hard to find the words to describe just how truly awful this show is because it is so irredeemably bad that even the most rabid of Scooby-Doo fans will despise this horrid bastardization of this beloved franchise.

At every turn, this show goes out of its way to disrespect the source material by making everything more “adult.”

Shaggy is a pothead who relentlessly pursues a relationship with Velma, Daphne is now a drug dealer, Fred goes to prison for murder, and Velma is just mean to everyone she talks to and makes pop culture references every other sentence.

I would say this stuff could be redeemable, but the show doesn’t do anything with it. They just make these changes because they think it makes the show more mature. 

Furthermore, the humor is absolutely dreadful. It goes beyond the already bad precedent of most adult animated comedies and presents a shining example of how not to write a comedy. There are two primary types of jokes in this show.

The first is pointing out a pop culture cliche or reference in an attempt to seem self-aware. The second is essentially just pointing something out and the show laughing at it.

For example, the show makes it a point that Fred has a small penis, but instead of doing anything funny with that fact, it just keeps pointing out that Fred has a small wiener. There is no joke or punchline there; it’s just mean-spirited. 

Beyond that, this show is also deeply problematic.

Velma often has hallucinations and panic attacks, but they are so painfully inaccurate to how they are in real life that it becomes genuinely offensive to people who actually have had or continue to struggle with them. She essentially just snaps out of it when she hears a character say something “funny,” which often is someone telling her their feelings and her laughing at them.

It just feels mean to the other characters on screen in order to prop up the most unlikable protagonist to ever grace a television. Beyond that, it also makes some questionable comments on numerous social issues, such as making fun of the Me Too movement.

Overall, “Velma” is an abomination of a show that is a disgrace to comedy. There is truly nothing of worth in this show, and I urge no one to watch this abomination. Instead, watch some adult cartoons that aren’t just sex jokes and 12-year-old potty humor, such as “Love Death & Robots,” “Arcane,” “Bojack Horseman,” or “Invincible.”

Score: 0/10

Streaming on HBO Max

The Menu

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb

Like “Wednesday,” “The Menu” came out of nowhere for me. I had never heard of it, then all of a sudden, people online were raving about it.

Unlike “Wednesday,” however, this is actually good. “The Menu” is one of the better movies I saw in 2022, and that is partially due to how simple of a movie it is when you get down to brass tacks.

Performances here are top-notch.

Nicholas Hoult perfectly embodies one of those weird Instagram foodies who thinks he’s a culinary expert. Anya Taylor Joy’s character, Margot, functions as the odd woman out because she is in a room filled with rich people and snobs when she is just an ordinary person seeing all these weird and pretentious dishes.

Ralph Fiennes is the true star of the show, however. His performance as Chef Slovik is both layered but also incredibly simple at its core. He’s a man who fell out of love with his art.

At first, the film presents itself as an artsy-fartsy A24 movie, but as it progresses, it becomes more and more clear what the movie is about. At its center, “The Menu” is a rejection of pretentious snobbery.

Whether it be with food or other art forms, this movie takes a firm stance on the purpose of these things; they exist to make people happy. Everyone dining in his restaurant in some way contributed to the death of his art, whether it be using it just to make a quick buck, tearing other people down, or diluting it into social media trends. Despite its thriller and horror influences, the movie is genuinely funny with its abundant use of black humor.

“The Menu” is definitely out there with its meta-commentary. But I think it’s a great movie with a great message on the purpose of art as a whole.

Score: 8/10

Streaming on HBO Max

Last of Us HBO Premier

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb

I’d like to start by apologizing for how much I’ve talked about “The Last of Us” in this refresh, but to be frank, it is a great time to be a fan of this legendary game series, and now a TV show.

As a massive fan of the games, I have been hotly anticipating this show. The games tell some of my favorite stories to ever grace a screen, so hearing that Neil Druckmann, the creator of the games, and creator of the fantastic miniseries “Chernobyl,” Craig Mazin, were teaming up gave me a lot of hope that this show would be good.

Closer to release, however, I became a little more skeptical as more came out about the show through trailers and interviews, specifically with comments from Mazin, which indirectly insulted every story-driven game before and after the original “Last of Us” game.

I am happy to report, however, that my skepticism was wrong as HBO’s “The Last of Us” is fantastic and a worthy and faithful adaptation of the seminal game. Going from “Velma” to this gave me more whiplash than a roller coaster. This may be the best HBO Max original because it adapts the game almost perfectly while also justifying its own existence outside of the game. 

Performances are fantastic across the board.

Pedro Pascal as Joel Miller is perfect, and he embodies the character in the best way possible. With many adaptations, I will look at the actors and see them as playing those characters, but with this, I see Pedro on screen and just immediately think, “that IS Joel.” My only real complaint is that the show mostly gets rid of his Texas accent.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie Williams is also great. She excellently portrays both the sass and rudeness of Ellie while also displaying her underlying trauma that hasn’t yet been revealed in the show. Just as in the game, she perfectly contrasts Joel’s hard and gruff nature.

In terms of adapting the games, this is nearly perfect. It understands the fundamentals of why the games were loved, but it also makes the needed changes in order to better fit the medium of television.

Most movies or shows struggle with translating an active form of storytelling like gaming to the more passive mediums, but here, it’s nearly seamless, with every emotional beat hitting just as hard as the games. From outbreak day to seeing the broken man Joel has become 20 years later, this feels like it was created with extreme reverence for the game. 

The show is also excellently directed. The entire episode was directed with a handheld camera which usually would be a red flag for me, but here it makes the show feel more intimate, immersive, and also stressful. Especially during the initial outbreak, the camera movements give a constant sense of unease since it never sits completely still.

Overall, if this first episode is anything to go off of, this show is shaping up to be one of HBO’s strongest projects in a very long time which is a feat within itself considering the competition just from last year with “House of the Dragon” and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the show shapes up.

Score: 9/10

Streaming on HBO Max