Friday Flix: Faith/The Great Doctor

friday flix jae scribblesWelcome to another edition of Friday Flix. This time we’re delving once again into the realm of Korean dramas. Seriously, whoever in Korea gave the OK to broadcast this stuff on Hulu and Netflix should get a huge raise. And whoever is holding back Japanese dramas from making it onto these same platforms should be fired. K-Dramas are taking over and we don’t mind.

Although there are much better Lee Min Ho dramas to be had (and Korean dramas at that) I still wanted to discuss the show Faith (also known as The Great Doctor). The description from Hulu:

Lee Min Ho stars in a thrilling fantasy epic, as an elite warrior in 1300s Korea who travels to the 21st century to find a doctor capable of healing the Queen. In a comic twist, his search for a doctor with godlike abilities leads him to a popular plastic surgeon, played by Kim Hee Sun. When she refuses to believe his outlandish story, he kidnaps her, dragging her back into the past to save the Queen. Will this stoic warrior give up his code of honor and choose love over war, and will this career woman ever consider a life less modern? Only time will tell, quite literally.

Those of you that have been on the edges of your seats for a Korean drama based on the politics and everyday happening of 1300s Korea, look no further. Seriously, don’t. That part of the show practically bored me to death. But as I’ve said to my friend Heidi, where there’s a Lee Min Ho, there’s a way. This series is available free on Hulu (as Faith) or on Netflix commercial-free (as The Great Doctor).

THE GOOD

Did I mention LMH is in it? That’s probably enough for most of you ladies right there. And he’s pretty much a superhero samurai (yes, I know samurai is Japanese, but you get the idea). Much as I liked seeing LMH being an action hero in City Hunter, I also enjoyed seeing him hack and slash away with a sword and occasional lightning power (more on that in a minute).

In one sense this show has all the great workings of a Bollywood movie. They just needed to break out into song once or twice. They even have the nefarious mustached man and his weirdo sidekicks. But as far as dramas go, I did like that the lead female character wasn’t completely helpless and had value outside of her relationship with men. I also liked that one of the villains was a smart, strong female. For a 1300s drama, it’s fairly progressive in that sense.

Plus it’s got time travel in it. You know I LURV me some time travel elements. Especially when future time travel whatnots interact with present time travel whatnots. I don’t want to spoil too much, but think Prisoner of Azkaban in the way they approach time travel. They don’t delve into it a lot until right toward the end, then it comes together in a pleasing manner. That part of the writing was done well.

I also like that they tried to pull off the gray-haired characters. I imagine this is something like what Inuyasha would look like if they tried to do a live-action version of that anime. (And they could try. Rurouni Kenshin was well done).

THE BAD

Remember in the prequels when we spent more than five seconds on the politics of the universe? Remember how your rabid Star Wars fanboy friend had to wake you up once those scenes were finally over? Well, unless you’ve got a real penchant for old school Korean politics and the workings of a kingdom, prepare yourself for parts I didn’t feel bad fast forwarding through. Often it reminded me of why I’m glad we said farewell to kings and queens a long time ago.

The show has a hurry up and wait pacing. At times the action will be crazy awesome and you’ll feel like things are moving along and the story is really pulling you in and then… And then it slows back down to accommodate more explanation of politics. Yay politics!

A few people have superpowers. You may wonder why I’m listing this under the bad. It’s not the fact that they have superpowers that is the problem. It’s just that the powers are plot devices at best. The only ones who really get to enjoy using their powers are Fire Lady and White Hair. No explanation is offered as to why some people have powers and others don’t. We are told LMH used to belong to a group of superpowered freaks, but as for good guys now, it’s just him.

Beware the firestarter.

Beware the firestarter.

The main antagonist, Creepy Mustache has really strong freeze powers, but I guess he’s used them too much or they take too bad a toll on him, so they’re hard for him to use, so he doesn’t much.

Creepy Mustache and his misfits.

LMH has a cool lightning power he uses a lot in the first episode or two, but then you practically forget he has them until Creepy Mustache or the power twins threaten him with their powers. As far as I can tell the powers are at best a plot device the writers pull out when they’re not sure what to do with a scene otherwise.

One small nitpick is the Great Doctor is extremely obnoxious the first few episodes, but I think it works because in the end she calms down and she grows on you. And I think we’re meant to see her character arc from bratty 21st century gal to mature woman that can handle just about anything.

THE CONCLUSION

I wouldn’t recommend starting off your K-drama experience with this one in particular. It took me awhile to watch because I’d lose interest and watch something else and then come back to it. I’d definitely recommend City Hunter, Heirs, To the Beautiful You, Secret Garden, Boys Over Flowers, and Coffee Prince before watching this.

But it is still interesting. I think it provides a lot of interesting ideas to consider as well, especially for those of you scifi/fantasy writers. And time travel. ‘Nuff said.

Have you seen Faith/The Great Doctor? What did you think of the show? Does it sound interesting to you? Have you watched any shows you found mostly boring but still watched all the way through?

Friday Flix: Sherlock

friday flix jae scribblesThe BBC is on fire lately with Steven Moffat in the mix among other things. I don’t think I even need to mention Doctor Who. And don’t get me started on Luther. We need Idris Elba to be James Bond like yesterday.

Idris isn’t sure either why he hasn’t been James Bond yet…

But we’re not here to talk about what handsome man should play James Bond, we’re here to talk about a detective. This detective.

Now let me make it clear that I have no problem whatsoever with the RDJ movies. Apples and oranges, baby. I’m not going to play the which is better than what game because we all know Jude Law pulls off a better mustache than Martin Freeman and even though Freeman is shorter, I’m pretty sure he could take Law in a fight. Strengths to both. Besides, am I really going to hate anything this man is in?

BACK TO BBC

Okay, but what we all gathered here to do today, despite my fangirl ADD episodes, is to talk about what Cumberbatch and Freeman are doing with the characters and the answer is PURE AWESOMENESS!

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Friday Flix: City Hunter

friday flix jae scribblesIt’s no secret to most that I have a huge crush on Korean actor Lee Min Ho. He had me at Boys Over Flowers. How could I not love this face, even if he is quite a jerk as Goo Jun Pyo?

But now he’s an action hero, you say? Sign me up! City Hunter is something like James Bond meets Ocean’s Eleven. LMH plays Lee Yoon Sung, and as Netflix describes it:

The son of a murdered government agent — begins working in the Blue House, the presidential residence in Korea. He tries to find the five men who betrayed his father 28 years ago, and makes a plan to punish them his own way.

THE GOOD

Yoon’s love interest Nana starts off as a girl holding down several part-time jobs but eventually she ends up as a bodyguard for the Blue House, so in American terms, she basically becomes secret service. It’s because she’s a tough girl who can take care of herself that Yoon gains interest in her. He’s got the looks and charms to get any woman he likes, but it’s the one more equal to himself he falls for. I like that in a romance plot.

kim nana

Don’t mess with Nana!

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Friday Flix: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

friday flix jae scribblesIt’s Friday and you know what that means! Time for some more Friday Flix. Something wicked this week comes. Evil, and the men who would fight it. Join Tucker and Dale whose only desire is to enjoy Tucker’s new vacation home.

The description from IMDB.com:

Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.

I know, it sounds like it’s on par with Dumb and Dumber (and it is) but since a lot of friends strongly recommended this movie to me and since it was Netflix Instant anyway, I thought I’d give it a go.

THE GOOD

Alan Tudyk. *drops mic and walks away*

*comes back and picks up mic* Okay, I know for some of you that might not be enough of an excuse, although it does make for a lot of the reason I watched this movie in the first place. But in addition to Alan (who plays Tucker) we have an equally fantastic performance by Tyler Labine (Dale). They do “best buds” right and considering the environment of the movie, are very well written.

Something else that surprised me about this movie was a covert discussion about prejudices. You have a bunch of college kids who could probably be cast as the popular kids in a teen movie coming to hillbilly country with both their college kid and city slicker prejudices fully in tact. In fact, that’s how Tucker and Dale are introduced, through the lens of these college kids. I have to admit, I did wonder about them, too.

But as a few minutes pass and we get to know T&D, we realize despite their quirks, they’re pretty decent guys. You even have Tucker encouraging Dale to go talk to one of the college hotties. I found it interesting to see how not long into the movie I’d feel a lot more comfortable around the hillbillies than the “intellectuals.” It makes for an interesting discussion on personal prejudices.

So at its root, this is a movie about overcoming prejudices and having confidence in yourself to step out of the box people may try and put you in. This movie may surprise you.

THE BAD

Gratuitous violence for the sake of gratuitous violence isn’t really my thing. I know it’s supposed to be humorous in a way, but I still felt uncomfortable every time someone bit the dust—and in terribly violent, grotesque ways EVERY time. I think it could have been toned down a lot, but I admit I’m probably not the audience they had in mind.

Although they tried to give a couple of the ladies brains, this still isn’t a terribly woman-friendly film. Mostly they’re objectified damsels in distress. One tries to be a psychologist, but it’s more akin to the early stages of Reese Witherspoon lawyering up in Legally Blonde. Still, at least effort is being made, I guess.

THE CONCLUSION

Is it a worthwhile watch? It depends on your tastes. If you like Alan Tudyk, definitely. If you like slashers mixed with humor, probably. If you’re intrigued by the idea of examining prejudices, maybe. It’s definitely not going to win any prestigious awards, but it’s a fun little flick I enjoyed seeing at least once.

A lot of the humor comes in the ignorance/acceptance of Tucker and Dale to their environment, especially their reaction to the “vacation home” of Tucker’s. The state of it would make most of feel ripped off, but they feel like kings in a palace. Again, it left me wondering about judgements we make and why we make them. So there is something to be had on the intellectual side as well as the good, old-fashioned goofy humor. But definitely not one for the young kiddies.

Have you seen Tucker and Dale vs. Evil? What did you think? Anything you would add to the good or the bad? Do you have any interest in seeing the film now? Have you had any recent experiences that made you reexamine prejudice in your own life?

Friday Flix: World War Z

friday flix jae scribblesTime again for another edition of Friday Flix. I had a tough time choosing. I recently also saw Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and Warm Bodies. But at the end of the day, being able to talk about Peter Capaldi won me over, so away we go!

World War Z is one of those clever titles you wish you’d come up for your story—at least in amount of cleverness. It just works, don’t you think? I’d heard good things about this flick, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing it until earlier this week when a friend decided she wanted to see it again for her birthday. And away we went!

What is World War Z about?

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Thrilling, right? Actually, this description points to something I wondered about a great deal of the movie, and we’ll get to that in a second.

THE GOOD

They had a theme running through the movie that they stuck to and this theme is what helps Brad (Gerry) survive some crazy stuff: movement is life or movimiento es vida (extra points for some Spanish learning). Because Brad doesn’t hesitate when others would languish in their cars or scream in the streets for FEMA to save them, he moves, and he survives. Having a recent interest in survivalism, I appreciated and took this theme to heart. You hesitate in those situations, you probably die. Count on yourself to save you and if someone else comes, great.

The zombies were formidable. Although part of me wants to say, okay, so how can corpses run really fast? They’re corpses for crying out loud! But I was willing to shrug it off to probably explained in the book for the sake of story. The whole movie you’re thinking, “Whoa! How are they going to stop these zombies? They’re practically invincible!” Seriously, even mostly crispy, burnt zombies can still get you. I like a good formidable opponent in a story. So A+ for that.

Okay, and don’t get me started on the awesome female soldier who kicked butt even AFTER sustaining a major debilitating injury. She has every reason to quit and go home, but she sticks with Brad to make sure humanity has ever chance of survival. And she wasn’t in love with him, she was just another comrade. I don’t know if I’d call it Bechdel-approved, but it’s certainly a positive step.

Story-wise, I loved how it built over time to add line upon line of tension. It seemed to follow Donald Maass’ recommendation of how can it get worse for your characters (likely because it was first a novel). I think you’ll have a good time watching this one. I also didn’t find it over-the-top gory or serious senseless violence, at least it seemed far less gross than Walking Dead.

THE BAD

About halfway through the movie I found myself wondering what exactly Brad’s character did prior to this movie and what made him so integral to the plot. It seemed like pretty much any GI Joe could have done his job. I guess his super power is he pays attention good? It’s a nitpicky thing, but I couldn’t see why he was integral to the story other than we were told. It would have helped if we knew just a little more about Brad’s character before. Like his weaponry skills weren’t all that awesome and I didn’t see him negotiate with anyone in any impressive sort of way. And since the temporary running military force was running short on resources, I couldn’t see why Brad was suddenly that important.

Maybe one of you all can tell me. But it said something to me about story. We may have in our head an idea or several ideas about what qualifies our characters to be our protagonist, but let’s make sure the readers get that sense too. And I’m betting the book does, but the movie needed it, too.

I also had major issues with the introduction of a certain character that might as well have been listed as Dude #5 for how long he stuck around. They spent forever talking this dude up on how he was going to save the day—and then he was out of the picture for the rest of the movie. As far as I could tell he was only there to deliver one piece of information to Brad that helped him come up with the solution at the end of the movie. I just think it could have been done a better way. It seemed so abrupt you almost weren’t sure that was the end of his part in the story.

Okay, one small thing on logistics. They have a cargo plane take off from an aircraft carrier. Any of you see the problem with that? Do you remember Top Gun? They have to hold those jets in place while they gear up, like Marty did in Back to the Future with the DeLorean. And even then, as my air force friend explained, the jets tend to dip a little once they go off the runway before being airborne. So talk to me about how a cargo plane is making that run… Nitpicky, I know. Not a movie killer, but it’s the details that can make or break a story sometimes. They’re important. Do your research.

THE CONCLUSION

I’d so go see World War Z, especially if you like zombies, especially if you like intense movies. It made me eager to check out the book. And let’s not forget what we started this post with, and that’s Peter Capaldi. For those that don’t know, he’ll be the 12th rendition of the Doctor. I giggled in the credits reading he was a W.H.O. doctor, you know before he became Doctor Who. Zing!

His part isn’t major, but I watched him and his expressions carefully for the few times he was on screen. I think he’s got the intensity the Doctor needs. I’m looking forward to meeting him in the near future.

Did you see WWZ? What do you think, worthwhile? Not? Anything else you noticed you’d nitpick about? Other things they did well? What’s been your favorite zombie movie you’ve ever seen? Are you ready for Peter Capaldi to take on the Doctor?