So this isn’t exactly a blog, it’s a mashup of movie reviews and a listing of my top 50 shows! Yes I watch all these shows!
I have declared before that I am a TV and movie addict. Honestly, it’s pretty serious. As I’ve been on a hiatus from work, I’ve sunk deeper into the abyss that is called TV. My productivity level is at zero because I am soaking in so much content. I don’t know how I was watching all of this and still working! Watching TV takes up 80% of my time now so I’m not sure how I was able to balance it with work before. It is all consuming.
I figured what’s the use of watching all that TV if I don’t share some reviews and my “best list”. Considering that watching TV and movies is like a full-time gig for me, you should really consider my reviews and recommendations as solid, just saying.
Also, don’t judge. I could have a worse habit or vice. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I’m celibate. This is what I do. I consume content.
I’m going to focus on only three movies I have watched in the past month, starting with the best of the three.
I adore Gerard Butler with his crooked, sexy lips. He crawled into my heart when he did 300 and somehow has stayed put in there over the years. In Hunter Killer, Gerard plays Captain Joe Glass, a US submarine captain who actually didn’t attend the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis which is required for all officers. So from the get-go, he’s positioned as an anomaly, and you know what to expect, a bona-fide rule breaker. The US has these submarines called hunter killers that are specifically designed to attack and sink other submarines and vessels. Captain Glass is given the USS Arkansas, a hunter killer, and tasked to find another hunter killer, the USS Tampa Bay which may have been sunk by the Russians. Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common, who’s doing so well with acting – John Wick anyone?) does two things early on in the movie that is probably the smartest thing anyone does and makes all the difference – first he deploys USS Arkansas and Captain Glass to find the other hunter killer, and second he deploys a ground team, a covert Navy Seal team to investigate what is happening in Russia where the possible attack happened. By those two quick actions, we have a confluence of underwater and on the ground action that enhances the movie completely. I don’t mind watching an underwater/submarine movie for 2 hours, but couple that with surface Navy Seal action? You got me! Captain Glass and Lieutenant Beaman (commander of the Navy Seals) proceed with their directives in a manner that defies logic and reason, but also with a military finesse that’s beautiful to watch. You don’t doubt their craziness, they are so committed that you wholeheartedly root for them. I can’t count how many times we clapped and hollered in the cinema. It was that enjoyable. What also makes this movie appealing is the crazy plot – Russia is in the middle of a coup that can trigger World War 3, unless the Hunter Killer Arkansas and the Navy Seals can rescue the Russian President. Americans rescuing the Russian President! The Russians must be seething at that plot, but it made everything fascinating and implausible at the same time. Gerard Butler is no stranger to rescuing Presidents – just check out Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen. Both movies are completely excellent in my books. The very definition of complete and total badassry. Badassry is not a word so don’t use it in your essays! I just love to use it to describe movies and shows that just trigger some love of violence and action in me.
Hunter Killer is enjoyable and entertaining, don’t let those critic reviews online on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes fool you. It’s a darn good movie, and it has Ghana’s very own David Gyasi. If you don’t know who he is, google him and find his movies! Catch Hunter Killer at Silverbird now.
Oh my boyfriend Jason Statham! As you’ll soon learn as I post reviews, I have a lot of movie and TV boyfriends. One day, I’ll post my boyfriend list. I have to say off the bat that Jason Statham is a bit subdued in The Meg, which is understandable considering the villain in this movie is a 75-foot-long shark. Not much hand to hand combat there. Jason plays a rescue diver called Jonas Taylor who’s called in to rescue a deep-sea submersible that has penetrated below what was regarded to be an ocean bed but turns out to be a thermocline cloud and encountered this prehistoric shark called the Megalodon aka the Meg. The dive below the thermocline has created a hole through which the Meg escapes, endangering everyone. The Meg isn’t exactly a great movie, but it is entertaining to watch the crew of the underwater research facility, along with Jonas Taylor, attempt to outwit the Meg and send it back to the depths of hell, or it’s frozen prison. I expected more carnage in The Meg, to be honest, we’re talking about a 75-foot prehistoric shark. So much prey, too few casualties. I am not sadistic, but come on now, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws was more gory, even Blake Lively’s The Shallows has more blood and death. If you love shark movies in general, you should watch The Shallows as well. I’m not really a Blake Lively fan but The Shallows has a ton of nail-biting suspense packed into a movie with barely any cast. The Meg is also predictable in the type of characters we have to deal with so I did what any reasonable person would do, just focus on Jason Statham!
Overall, I enjoyed The Meg. I wanted more, but what I got was fun enough. Also another reminder that knowing how to swim is basically the only key to surviving any apocalyptic tragedy. Back to Walla I go.
It pains me to talk about Mile 22, but I’m including it as a warning, please avoid this movie!!!!! Mark Wahlberg is trying, honestly, he is. And I genuinely like the guy, but he is desperate for his own Bourne or Bond trilogy. I understand Mile 22 is now pegged as a trilogy. Dear Lord, why??
In Mile 22, Mark Wahlberg is CIA Operative James Silva, who leads a paramilitary team code-named Overwatch. Overwatch is supposed to be a deadly team, and that is where my first issue with the movie is. I’m not going to share any spoilers but the ineptitude of Overwatch is clear from the first scene. It’s mindboggling. I was so pissed with the really stupid mistakes the team made, and it just kept going. Also, James Silva, Mark’s character is portrayed as this highly intelligent operative whose mind works faster than most. Huh? Did someone just write a character on paper and forget how to execute it? James Silva just talks fast and snaps a band to calm himself. His talking and pacing does not serve the team or enhance any deductive skills. He just talks and talks!! Ugh! The third problem, beyond the issues of the team’s incompetence and Silva’s unnecessary fast pace, is the poorly developed characters, particularly his team. We are given no opportunity to like or root for them. You barely get to know their names before they drop like flies. I like movies based on team ensembles where every character feels important. Take Hunter Killer for instance, I remember the absolutely annoying XO who had no faith in his captain, I remember the stoic Russian sub captain who spoke little but you knew he had integrity, I remember the rookie Navy Seal who seems to have so much bad luck but incredible gall and tenacity. But Mile 22? The only character who will resonate with you is Li Noor, which brings me to the actual plot. Silva and his team Overwatch must transfer a high priority foreign asset, Li Noor, from a US embassy in a fictional Asian country to an airfield for transport to the US. The distance from the embassy to the airfield is 22 miles. And honestly, the minute they set off, I’m like seriously, this is how they intend to transport him? Overwatch, with all their fast talk and technology, is the lamest military team I have ever seen on screen. Which brings me back to Li Noor who had the best action and scenes, without him, Mile 22 would be F-. He was more skilled and more resourceful than all of Overwatch put together.
Skip this one please. I paid for it on iTunes and I really wish I could get my money back!
I’m loving TV in 2018! There is so much good stuff on that I am just high as a kite! Where do I even begin? Okay, I’ll give you my top 50 list, and provide a brief on my top five favorites only.
- Seal Team (CBS) – this is my absolute favorite show on TV right now. I can’t begin to express how much I love this show. It is the best military based show on TV because it has so much heart and badass action at the same damn time. The missions are central to the show, and the execution of the missions aren’t flawless, but pretty close to perfection. These guys are an incredible tight-knit team. This is a family. They are passionate about each other, their families and their country. Seal Team, as the name says, is about an elite group of Navy Seals, who execute high stakes missions, under the guidance of the CIA. What’s great about this team is that they’re not airheads, they’re smart, intelligent, resourceful and brazen. The team is led by Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz), supported by CIA Analyst Mandy Ellis (Jessica Pare). Jim Caviezel originally had the role of Jason Hayes. I completely love JC, ever since Count of Monte Cristo, Passion of the Christ, through to Person Of Interest, one of my all time favorite shows. All the same, I think the casting change works and David Boreanaz nails it as Jason. He is witty, surly, troubled, focused and humorous. Jason takes the missions seriously, but you can also tell he’s having fun. David B. is officially on the boyfriend list! Seal Team takes you on the missions, deployment and home front, and gives you a lot of pure action, but also so much heart and soul. The lives and families of the Seal Team matter because you get to know them. It’s not just bullets flying, it’s kisses, hugs and tears. I totally love this show. Triple thumbs up!
Mandy: You are going to ambush a force 3 times your size?
Jason: That’s what we do. We assault!
And that’s exactly what my fearless team does! Love it!
- The First (Hulu) – I feel like The First didn’t make waves as it should have. This show is so incredible that it renders me speechless and I am not exaggerating or being overly dramatic. It’s like an Oscar-winning movie transferred to TV. The First chronicles the journey and lives of a group of astronauts who are trying to be the first on Mars. The pilot episode will knock your socks off and you won’t recover. The group is led by Captain Hagerty (the uber gifted Sean Penn!), and Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone – she left Designated Survivor for The First and it was the right choice!) is the CEO of Vista, the company managing the launch. Sean Penn is amazing, and so is every single character, including a personal favorite of mine, Hannah Ware from The Betrayal and Hitman: Agent 47. She is an underrated actress, and I’m glad she’s on The First as Sadie Hewitt. This show is smart, intelligent, well-acted, deep, emotional and shocking. I am committed to the mission!
- Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Originals) – This show crept into my top five this week because I binge watched the first season in one day just this week! Granted, it was only 8 episodes, but it had me hooked from the pilot and maintained its high octane pace right through to episode 8. I sacrificed sleep and food for this. This is the fifth on-screen version of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford who can do no wrong by me remains my favorite Jack Ryan. Before Ford did Jack Ryan, the very first was Alec Badlwin in The Hunt for Red October; then Harrison Ford did Clear and Present Danger (excellent movie) and Patriot Games; then Ben Affleck (my number one boyfriend of all time) stepped into Jack Ryan’s shoes for The Sum of All Fears; Chris Pine followed with his version in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; and finally John Krasinski becomes the unlikely but effective hero in the first TV adaptation. I loved the Jack Ryan books before they made it to the big screen so I’m addicted. And I am also very pleased with John Krasinski’s version. The character’s inherent boy scout ideologies are strong in the series but his fierceness to get his target also comes across more strongly than has been depicted before. Ryan is also more humanized in the Amazon version. The villain in this version is also very capable. That’s key for me. Weak-ass villains are not worth watching. For those who aren’t familiar with the books, movies or TV series, Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst whose desk top findings lead him to the field as he hunts for his targets, along with his boss, Jim Greer (played by the highly talented but somewhat underrated Wendell Pierce from Suits). Solid show.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) – I binge-watched The Handmaid’s Tale seasons 1 and 2 in less than a week. I was skeptical about starting this one because I had a full TV plate, and then two colleagues at work raved about it so I decided to squeeze it in. The Handmaid’s Tale is based on a book (honestly, isn’t everything?) and the TV show adheres closely to the book. The plot may seem impossible, but we had the holocaust, so nothing is impossible. In the near future, fertility rates drop significantly due to disease and pollution, which leads to a civil war in the US, from which a religious government called Gilead establishes power. They capture women to be handmaids to the high-ranking officers who are married to women who can’t conceive. The handmaids are raped by the men on the laps of the women over and over until they conceive and then their babies remain with the officers, and the maids are passed on. Gilead rule is brutal, dissenters are murdered frequently, and the wives of the ruling men are forced to live in total submission. Somehow the ruling party has found a way to base their cruelty and sadistic behavior on the Bible, beginning with the story of Bilhah who was given as a handmaid to Rachel when she married Jacob. When Rachel couldn’t have children, she gave her handmaid Bilhah to Jacob to sleep with, and Bilhah bore Jacob two sons whom Rachel claimed. And that’s exactly what this TV series depicts. They quote the verses where Bilhah lays on Rachel’s lap as Jacob takes her. The entire concept is so disturbing and enrapturing at the same time. It’s must watch TV because as crazy as what happens in Gilead may seem, the racism, sexism and pure discrimination in today’s world makes it disturbingly possible. This show follows one particular Handmaid, Offred, formerly known as June, played by Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). June is an infuriating character, but you still root for her, because honestly, how is a person supposed to act when they’re being raped against their will as a matter of course? The Handmaid’s Tale has won a ton of Emmys, deservedly, and I’m going to stick with it for a while.
- Madam Secretary (CBS) – This is one of the low-key shows that I adore deep within me. It’s steady in a predictable way that gives me comfort, but also surprises me when I am getting complacent. Madam Secretary follows Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst who is tenacious, funny, creative and dedicated. McCord’s character is such a strong character that you almost feel like she’s not quite real, which is where her family life comes in. Her relationship with her husband, Dr. Henry McCord (Tim Daly) is what keeps me glued to this show every week. Most TV shows don’t know how to sustain relationships which is infuriating. It’s as if infidelity and break ups are the only ways to cause drama in TV relationships. I get so upset with TV shows that put a couple together and then don’t give them a chance to succeed – Casey and Gabby in Chicago Fire, or let me just say every couple in in the Chicago Fire, PD, Med franchise! And of course every couple on Grey’s Anatomy. Madam Secretary has been on for 5 seasons, and this couple has shouldered every family and political drama together. It’s such a blessing to watch. The political issues that the Secretary navigates are also fascinating and you just never know how she’s going to handle it. I’m a long-term fan, and I plan to continue with this one for an even longer time to come!
Okay, now the rest of the top 50 listing without descriptors. Top notch shows all round! Also, CBS and Netflix have the best original shows ever.
- WestWorld (HBO) (caveat: it should have been part of the top 5, but season 2 irked me)
- Power (Starz)
- Altered Carbon (Netflix) (amazing show, I can’t get over it)
- Stranger Things (Netflix) (season 1 is absolutely brilliant, season 2 struggled)
- The Night Manager (AMC)
- Marvel’s The Punisher (Netflix)
- Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix)
- A Million Little Things (ABC)
- Big Little Lies (HBO)
- Master of None (Netflix)
- The Sinner (USA) (caveat: season 1 is beyond excellent, season 2 is dubious)
- The Good Fight (CBS)
- One Dollar (CBS)
- FBI (CBS)
- SWAT (CBS)
- Tell Me A Story (CBS)
- Bull (CBS)
- Suits (USA)
- Star Trek Discovery (CBS)
- Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
- The Good Doctor (ABC)
- New Amsterdam (NBC)
- Chicago Fire (NBC)
- Chicago Med (NBC)
- Chicago PD (NBC)
- Midnight, Texas (NBC)
- The Rookie (ABC)
- Shooter (USA)
- The Walking Dead (AMC) (caveat: used to be my number one show, but the last few seasons have sucked!)
- Black Mirror (Netflix)
- House of Cards (Netflix)
- Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix)
- Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix)
- Marvel’s IronFist (Netflix)
- Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix)
- Big Bang Theory (CBS)
- Modern Family (ABC)
- Manifest (NBC) (started as a promising show, I’m losing some interest though)
- Blindspot (NBC) (same as above)
- God Friended Me (CBS)
- Reverie (NBC)
- Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix)
- The Last Ship (TNT)
- The Originals (CW)
- Vampire Diaries (CW)
Honorable mentions (favorite shows that have ended)
- 24 (Fox) (my number one show from now to eternity, hands down)
- Justified (FX) (second eternal favorite)
- True Blood (HBO)
- Person of Interest (CBS)
- West Wing (NBC)
- Mad Men (AMC)
- The Good Wife (CBS)
- The Strain (FX)
- Tyrant (FX)
- Damages (FX)
- Flashforward (ABC)
- The Mentalist (CBS)
- Helix (SyFy)
- Sex and The City (HBO)
- Pitch (Fox)
- Friday Night Lights (NBC)
- The Exorcist (Fox)
- Designated Survivor (ABC)
- Betrayal (ABC)
- Alphas (SyFy)
If you have recommendations for me, let me know. I think I can squeeze in a couple more shows….