Monthly Archives: June 2020

TV Review – Space Force (2020)

Be a spaceman, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s new comedy series.

I avoided this series for awhile because I assumed it was going to be a dump on Trump fest. Now, don’t get me wrong, politicians have long been easy fodder for comedy, and our current president provides more than enough material, but at some point I feel comedians moved away from finding original jokes and just got lazy, creating a non-stop meme machine, i.e. “Trump is a bad orange man who is bad and orange!”

That’s not the case here. It’s a goofy comedy about all the antics you might imagine would happen in the creation of a brand new wing of the military.  Think F Troop, but in space.

Steve Carell plays General Mark Naird, a decorated war veteran who has long dreamed of leading a branch of the military. When he is promoted to 4-Star, he mistakenly believes that he is being groomed to replace his longtime nemesis General Kick Grabaston (Noah Emmerich) as leader of the Air Force, only to find that he’s actually going to become the founder of the Space Force.

The assignment, at first, seems like a bad joke, with the name Space Force conjuring images of science fiction flicks in which intrepid space explorers engage in tense laser battles with little green men.

But Naird takes the job seriously, seeing it as his opportunity to be remembered in history alongside great generals like Patton, Eisenhower and so on.

Naird’s foil is John Malkovich’s Dr. Adrian Mallory.  While Naird runs all things military at Space Force’s Colorado base, Mallory runs all things science. They’re basically an odd couple, where Mallory never wants to take a risk and Naird never meets a risk he doesn’t want to take.

Killer satellites designed to destroy other satellites, space chimps, space dogs, spies, moon colonies, and an ongoing rivalry with China’s version of the Space Force become inspiration for hilarity.

Various subplots ensue, including Naird’s wife (Lisa Kudrow as Maggie Naird) who is in prison for (SPOILER ALERT) a reason we are never told, and assumably we’ll have to wait until next season to find out, if we ever do.  We know she’s there for 40 years, so she did something serious, but Naird wasn’t required to step down so it couldn’t have had consequences that were that dire.  She’s free in the first few minutes of the series and clearly despises the idea of leaving Washington, D.C. to move to a remote location in Colorado, so my money is that she probably flipped out and tried to hijack the flight to Colorado or something.  We’ll have to keep watching to find out.

Naird’s daughter, Erin (Diana Silvers) ends up having to raise herself as her mom is in the slammer and dad is constantly dealing with one space catastrophe after another.

To the series’ credit, it isn’t that political at all, but when it is, it harangues both parties equally. In one scene, Naird is chewed out by an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clone for wasting taxpayer dollars on spaceships with lasers and pulse cannons only for Naird to have to gently explain that these things only exist in Star Wars.  Meanwhile, he has to explain to a stereotypical Southern senator that the earth isn’t flat.  Trump is never official said to be the president, though Naird gets ribbed with texts from “POTUS” calling him a loser whenever Space Force suffers a setback.

The late Fred Willard plays Naird’s doddering father who suffers from a multitude of health problems but refuses to go into assisted living.  Poignant, because this was Willard’s last role.

Ben Schwartz plays Naird’s despised social media consultant F. Tony (nicknamed Fuck Tony), essentially reprising his ultra-trendy pop culture obsessed Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation.

Ironically, and I’m not sure if this was the series’ intention or not, but it actually convinced me that militarization of space isn’t that bad of an idea.  Put aside goofy sci-fi notions of space soldiers fighting with vile aliens and consider today’s issues, namely, we are more dependent on the Internet than ever, and if a foreign power has the ability to knock an Internet providing satellite out of the sky, then perhaps the military does need to be involved.  Meanwhile, if multiple countries have plans to eventually colonize the moon or Mars, then those colonies will need protection.

And in a funny way, it explores many of the issues that are bound to happen as earthlings keep navigating into the stars.  Will countries fight over astro-turf just as they fight over earth turf back home? Will experiments that could help humanity though medical breakthroughs be put to the wayside for finding new ways to carry out war? Who owns what is discovered in space and last, but not least, is the great taxpayer expense worth it? As Malkovich points out, the cost to launch a rocket is the equivalent of what thousands of Americans make in an entire life time. How many thousands of life-time salaries can be wasted without demonstrated benefits before taxpayers put a stop to space exploration altogether?

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  I binge-watched this in a day because it was that funny and I’m looking forward to season 2.

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Movie Review – Capone (2020)

Time for a review of a modern day take on the old timey gangster movie 3.5 readers, see?

(SPOILERS)

I don’t know what to make of this movie, other than, who the hell wanted this?

Al Capone, the man who basically invented American organized crime, has been featured in films and TV shows for decades, so much so that there probably wasn’t much of a chorus of voices calling for another Capone story.

But not having much else to do, I gave it a shot.  The premise is that it takes place during the last year of Capone’s life. He’s 48 and in bad shape.  Though late forties isn’t normally the time when the average man turns into a doddering codger (at least by modern standards), Al is in poor health.  He suffers from syphilis of the brain, which has lead to strokes, which has led to declining mental health.

By the start of the film, Al has been released from his ten year stint in prison for tax evasion. He has run off to his estate in Florida with his wife and family, and is constantly annoyed by the presence of workmen who are packing up his precious statues so they can be sold, the family apparently in need of the dough.

Overall, the movie is a vehicle for Tom Hardy to flex his acting chops.  Hardy is able, through facial contortions, make-up, prosthetics and voices.  He becomes almost like a living breathing cartoon version of a gangster brought to life here.

But other than that, there isn’t much to the movie and honestly, it was a chore to watch it. I checked my clock regularly, just praying for the damn thing to end.

Plot wise?  There isn’t a lot to it.  There are occasional mentions of Al having stashed $10 million away, and sometimes various characters try to break past Al’s scrambled mind to find out where he has hidden the loot.  An old henchman played by Matt Dillon wants to find it, on the auspices that he’d like to help Al seeing as how Al and his family are in need of money, yet said henchman doesn’t exactly come across as the type of person you’d want to trust with your loot.

There’s also a doctor who is being pushed by G-Men into trying to get the info out of Al, though what the Feds have on the doc is never explained.

That’s the movie in a nutshell.  Threads are pulled but never sewn back together in the end.  The side plot about hidden money might have been interesting if it was ever explained one way or another where it is, or if it isn’t anywhere, then why.

There’s also a side plot that Al has an estranged, secret son who wants to reconnect with his father, though why the son is estranged we never know.

The climax of the film features a demented Al stalking the grounds of his Florida estate in his bathrobe and diaper, using his tommy gun to pump rounds into the workmen who have so vexed him.  You wait for the G-men who have been watching him to swoop in and arrest him but, spoiler, even that is a red herring as we learn that was just one of Al’s fever dreams.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of coughing, choking, and shit.  So much shit.  Al shits the bed. He shits his pants.  He is forced to wear adult diapers and shits those too.  I mean, though Capone is often portrayed as a Robin Hoodish folk hero, he was a gangster who killed and stole and committed atrocities for personal profit, so yeah, who gives a shit if he is left to spend his last year sitting in his own poop but holy crap…did I need to see it?

I mean, seriously, was there a great public outcry for a movie about Capone pooping in his bed?  I think not.

It is hard to watch because, setting aside that the character is Capone, it is sad, in general, how health problems can destroy the body and mind.  It just isn’t something I want to see.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy.  Hardy is skilled and talented, but I think there was a better vehicle for him.

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