FIRST LOOK: Down to Earth (TV Series) Season 1 – Netflix

High School Musical’s Zac Efron goes heavy into climate change mode, visiting different parts of the world to explore how to think differently about how to live in a way that is healthy and sustainable.

Not exclusionary for eco-freaks, the first two episodes watched were accessible, fascinating and compelling. The show doesn’t handle the messages in a preachy way, rather it shows how people are thinking about solving every day problems with renewable energy.

For example, baking bread in Iceland inside volcanic ground. What a great, fun idea! They harvest and utilize the steam for powering the city as well as heating the roads so they don’t have to snowplow them.

In each episode, Efron teams up with author Darin Olien, who wrote the nutrition bestseller: SuperLife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome and sometimes friends like Anna Kendrick in the second episode in France as they sample different kinds of natural water.

Olien and Efron travel to a number of different countries, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Sardinia, and Peru. “We need to start rethinking how we consume everything,” continues Efron. “From our food to our power.”

Zac Efron’s Netflix Series ‘Down to Earth’ Examines the Climate Crisis | LIVEKINDLY

The trailer:

This is not my normal TV series interest wheelhouse, which is part of the reason I liked it. May not binge this or formally review it here, but if the other six episodes are anything like the first two, I’ll enjoy watching, thinking more about the subject matter and this amazing planet earth we all live on and sometimes take for granted.

Down To Earth with Zac Efron Season 1 – all 8 episodes (run times from 35-47 minutes per episode) – are available for streaming on Netflix as of July 10, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: The Empty Man (2020)

FIRST LOOK Friday continues with …

Hey, it’s a horror movie coming in August, maybe, to theaters. At least it hasn’t been delayed as of this writing, so I’m bravely previewing it. The film was announced first in 2016 and has taken a leisurely path to release. It hasn’t had a bunch of delays and moves, however, so maybe — assuming theaters are back open next month — will release as currently planned.

What’s it about?

A terrifying entity may be responsible for a string of mysterious disappearances in a small Midwestern town.

Everything You Need to Know About The Empty Man Movie (2020)

I couldn’t locate an official trailer for this film from 20th Century (now owned by Disney), but it is based upon the Boom Studios comic by Cullen Bunn. Haven’t read the comic, but do like the story description:

…a dystopic version of the world we know, where a terrifying disease has taken on almost deific connotations. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms include fits of rage, hideous hallucinations, suicidal dementia, followed by death, or a near lifeless, “empty” state of catatonia. As cults rise nationwide, the FBI and CDC enter a joint investigation of the Empty Man, hoping to piece together clues to stop the cults and uncover a cure … THE EMPTY MAN comic book series delivers terrifying new horrors, perfect for new readers and longtime fans alike,

The Empty Man #1 First Look – Boom Studios!

As of this writing the comic series first 6 issues are available for $9.99 at Google Play (regularly price buying each issue separately costs $18, so better deal to buy the volume 1 series). I haven’t read the series, just reporting one place you can find the series at. I didn’t check any other sources than Google Play, so maybe Comixology has as part of their unlimited deal. Subscribers should always check there first.

I’m interested in reading this comic series and seeing the movie. I don’t know if I’ll have time to do it before the movie comes out, though. More and more movies these days are being adapted from comics and graphic novels.

The Empty Man as of this writing is scheduled to open wide in theaters on August 7, 2020.

SECOND LOOK: The Old Guard – Netflix

The Old Guard ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

This morning I watched this and liked it. My spoiler-free review is up on Letterboxd and linked on the title above, which is not how normally these FIRST LOOKS are done (in almost every case they are movies or TV shows I haven’t seen and am interested in seeing — usually written and posted before the release date).

UPDATE @ 4:20PM : Turns out that I did already write a FIRST LOOK on May 22 for this movie. How I forgot about this and wrote a second FIRST LOOK is my own mistake. The original post is here: FIRST LOOK: The Old Guard – Netflix

On Wednesday when looking at what was coming to Netflix this coming weekend (see: WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND #28 of 2020 Movie and TV Streaming Picks – AppleTV+, Netflix, HBO Max, Shudder, DC Universe), I saw this and planned to write up a FIRST LOOK for it (not remembering I’d already done it a couple weeks ago). This morning, I saw it appear on Netflix, started watching it and before I knew it, the movie was over.

It’s interesting reading other reviews and watching the trailer. I see there is focus on the diversity of the cast and crew, but it was the story I focused on. I didn’t even realize it was based on a 2017 graphic novel (The Old Guard by Greg Rucka — #1 is available for free on Google Play) until after reading other reviews.

“And love the fact that it was this group of warriors from different cultures and sexual orientations and genders that have come together to save humanity,” she says. “I mean, that’s the world that I — when I look out — that’s what I see, that organic diversity.”

Here’s why Netflix’s ‘The Old Guard’ is groundbreaking – Daily News

Trailer:

I’ll have more to say about the movie in the critique and other reviews I compile for next week, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for something action-oriented and new to check out this weekend, here you go.

The Old Guard is available for streaming on Netflix as of July 10, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Close Enough (TV Series 2020–) – HBO Max

It’s not often I read about major companies using gummy bears infused with cannabis to promote a new animated TV series.

Yes, really, serious.

According to various articles I’m reading, there’s some history behind this show having difficulty being published, that WarnerMedia — known has having a penchant for TV-MA content — picked up for HBO Max.

HBO Max is taking an unconventional approach to promoting its upcoming new series Close Enough. The streaming service is partnering with Sunderstorm’s Kanha to release limited edition cannabis infused edible gummies to celebrate the new animated series set to premiere on June 9th. The gummies feature strains inspired by each of the show’s four main adult characters and will be available at select California dispensaries as well as for delivery in California via Eaze while supplies last through the month of July. The unconventional campaign is one that SVP of Program Marketing at HBO Peter Sherman said feels “authentic” to the series.

HBO Max Releasing Cannabis-Infused Edible Gummies to Celebrate Close Enough Series

Ok, we’ve got plenty of background in that article about cannabis, but what is Close Enough the animated TV series about? IMDB:

A comedic look on a couple trying to face various challenges in their daily lives while trying to cope with their changes from 20s to 30s

Close Enough (TV Series 2020– ) – IMDb

Boring description. Trailer?

Can this fill the hole left in my adult animated heart by the finale of Season 2 of Harley Quinn? Um, not sure, but will definitely check out at least the first episode. Are you interested in watching this show? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Close Enough is available for streaming on HBO Thursday, July 9, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga – Netflix

The title is too long and unexciting, but this stars Will Ferrell trying to win a worldwide songwriting contest which raises the interest level.

Who doesn’t remember Ferrell on SNL in various musical skits. Song parodies are his forte. Remember him playing the cowbell as a fictional band member of Blue Oyster Cult? Nobody ever thought of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” the same. I was hoping for at least one cowbell moment easter egg here when watching.

Be honest, how many of you reading knew about the Eurovision Song Contest? First time I’ve heard of it. American Idol, The Voice, have heard of both of those, but I don’t follow song contests. It’s a real annual event that according to Wikipedia has been running since 1956. Thanks to the pandemic, it’s missing 2020, breaking a long running annual tradition. Seems like a good backdrop for a film, but not sure how much comedic value can be mined from a music contest.

The trailer had me stoked to see this, even though it was a weird Will Ferrell character that seemed like something we’ve seen from him before.

Watched it and it wasn’t for me. I think Will Ferrell is strong musically but didn’t care for the music choices herein. That definitely swayed my review (to be posted today at some point), also the comedy just didn’t land well for me.

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a funny, laugh out loud Will Ferrell movie. I just looked through his filmography and he’s had a run of unfunny movies (some weren’t even comedies) I’ve been disappointed by (he might be more one-dimensional than I though). I didn’t see Anchorman 2, so before that is the most awesome Stepbrothers (2008), now that is a funny Will Ferrell movie.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is streaming on Netflix as of June 26, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Perry Mason (2020 TV Series) – HBO Max – NOT the Perry We Know and Love

When I heard that HBO was rebooting the TV series Perry Mason, I was both skeptical and curious. I mean, how do you do this without the legendary Raymond Burr?

Origin story. Prequel.

I won’t begrudge you for having Star Wars prequels nightmares. George Lucas ruined prequels for me. That’s not quite what this is, though, is it?

Somewhat SPOILER, but that does seem the path the pilot episode is taking. It’s backdrop is the Great Depression, and it’s not the courtroom drama we’re used to seeing from the old black and white episodes. It’s a very different Los Angeles …

1931, Los Angeles. While the rest of the country struggles through the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong. Based on characters created by author Erle Stanley Gardner, this drama series follows the origins of American fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason. When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.

Perry Mason – Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer:

It’s got f-bombs, nudity, sex, blood, violence and, yeah, it’s very much for mature audiences.

But does it have a good mystery being solved?

That’s the signature Earl Stanley Gardner Perry Mason, complete with the defeat of defense attorney Hamilton Burger. Does it have Perry’s faithful, demure assistant Della Street? She’s in the first episode, but — you’ll have to tune into see what she’s doing. I’m not here to spoil the entire episode.

This prequel Perry Mason is a detective, taking pictures and showing emotional outbursts that one can’t even fathom the calm, collected Perry Mason we know having.

After watching the first episode, I’m getting the sense that the drama is waiting to see when we’ll see the Perry Mason we know and love appear.

Argh, I played that waiting game with the evolution of Darth Vader and it took two movies to sort of get there. I’m in for one more episode, but probably not going to be reviewing this one each week. This feels much, much more like Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (minus the nervous tic, and despite it being the gumshoe 50s, vs. the 30s) than Perry Mason.

Only this scene gives viewers any real sense of the Perry Mason we are familiar with …

Missing the mystery of the original already. You? Seems like they just used the Perry Mason IP to get people to watch this. Don’t like being tricked like that …

Perry Mason (2020) Season 1, episode 1 is now available on HBO Max for streaming.

FIRST LOOK: Scare Package – Shudder

Those who have been reading this blog and/or following our reviews know that I’m a huge horror fan.

Anthology horror is a niche within that really hits close to home. Just love horror shorts. Movies like Stephen King and George Romero’s Creepshow and John Carpenter’s Body Bags are a bullseye for my viewing interest.

Shudder made Creepshow into a TV series in 2019 (see: TV REVIEW: Creepshow Season 1 Episodes Reboot by Shudder – 12 Stories, 6 Episodes All Rated and Reviewed (no spoilers)) and they are gearing up for season 2 later in fall 2020. They are also working on scripts for season three.

In Scare Package, we’re treated to seven horror shorts that take a jab at horror tropes. I’m not as big a fan of humor in horror, preferring to be scared over being made to laugh, but still I’m liking the teaser and movie info here.

The movie starts with Chad Buckley, the lonely owner of Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium, who whiles away the hours bickering with his only customer. When a job applicant shows up unexpectedly, Chad takes it upon himself to teach the newbie the rules of horror movies. As Chad narrates, he spins a series of grisly, gory tales that spring to life as mini movies, each directed by a different filmmaker. The cast includes Noah Segan (Knives Out), wrestling legend Dustin Rhodes, Toni Trucks (SEAL Team) and Hawn Tran (Watchmen), among others.

How to watch the horror-comedy anthology ‘Scare Package’
on Shudder – cleveland.com

Trailer:

7 directors, 7 stories with runtime of 107 minutes. Simple math tells me that an average of 15 minutes per short. Depending on the complexity of the shorts, this could present a quick, nasty bite in the dark. Again, I’m concerned about how much it leans on humor. It’s easier to create humor-horror than scary horror. Definitely going to check this out. Good news? It’s available as of this writing for Shudder subscribers.

Scare Package is available to stream here on Shudder as of June 18, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Superman: Red Son (2020) – DC Universe

One of the biggest strengths DC Universe offers is the adult animated superhero movies and TV shows. They don’t have a huge quantity of movies and TV shows, but what they do offer, is usually worth checking out (Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn, etc). They usually have the newest DC animated films within 3-6 months of being released.

Superman might be too OP, but he’s a lot of fun to watch. The guy can fly, has super strength, X-ray vision and really only suffers from one weakness: kryptonite.

This one has an intriguing premise.

After Krypton is destroyed, Kal-El’s ship crash lands in the Soviet Union, where he’s raised to combat the Communist ideology as Russia’s greatest protector: Superman. But as Russia’s hero begins to create chaos around the world on behalf of the Soviets, international forces must step in to save the world.

Superman: Red Son (2020) – Rotten Tomatoes

The trailer:

This is on my to-watch list. Russians, the cold war and Superman? Sign me up. Are you interested in this one?

Superman: Red Son is available for streaming on DC Universe.

FIRST LOOK: Greyhound – Apple TV+

Tom Hanks’ next movie — as has been the case for several other movies during the pandemic — is skipping a theater release for AppleTV+ subscribers.

It’s a fictional tale set during World War II, but based on events during a long naval campaign.

Greyhound takes place at a critical moment in the Battle of the Atlantic, which began in September 1939 and only ended with the Germans’ surrender on May 8, 1945. As Blazich explains, the conflict was centered chiefly on supplies: An island nation, the United Kingdom required a steady flow of imported goods and raw materials, many of which originated in the U.S. The Soviet Union, besieged by the Nazis’ Operation Barbarossa, was also in dire need of food, oil and other essential supplies, which arrived via seaports on the Arctic Ocean.

The True Story Behind Tom Hanks’ ‘Greyhound’ Movie | History | Smithsonian Magazine

The trailer:

Not sure if it’s the fact Tom Hanks is in the film — for me, anyway, he’s single-handedly a reason to check out the movie — or the story, but this one looks promising. And I’m not much of a war film movie fan. The last WWII naval battle movie in the theaters we watched was Midway ⭐️⭐️⭐️ which we enjoyed and recommended.

Since we don’t subscribe to AppleTV+, we’ll need to subscribe for at least one month (it’s $4.99/month) to see this one. Considering we can see what else is on AppleTV at the time, that seems like a good deal to me.

Will others like us that don’t currently subscribe sign up for a month to see this? I mean, what’s the difference in paying $5-20+ USD to rent a movie on VOD vs. paying for an entire month and having access to the entire service’s library of content. Seems like a no brainer, if the movie is of interest.

Are you looking forward to seeing this one? If you aren’t an AppleTV subscriber, is this movie enough of a reason to subscribe? Or will you wait for reviews to come back first from others first?

Greyhound will premiere streaming on AppleTV+ on July 10, 2020.

FIRST LOOK: Da 5 Bloods (2020) – Netflix

Netflix is offering a new Spike Lee Joint, this one exploring the uber-violent battleground of the Vietnam War — for us to feast our movie-watching eyes on.

From Academy Award Winner Spike Lee comes a New Joint: the story of four African-American Vets — Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) — who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature — while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.

Da 5 Bloods (2020) – Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer:

What do you think of this one? I’m somewhat interested, but not blown away. I’ve enjoyed some Spike Lee films without even realizing they were by Spike Lee.

A little surprised this one doesn’t come with more fanfare and buzz. Maybe it has a very dedicated and interested following and I’ve just missed it (entirely possible!), but hey, it’s here.

What do you think of this one? Looking forward to watching? Stream it and see if you get into it? Zero interest or anticipation? Or feeling something somewhere in between (that’s me, as of this writing).

Da 5 Bloods is available on Netflix on Friday June 12, 2020.