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Review: Warrior Nun S1S5 “Matthew 7:13”

Warrior Nun

We are finally at the halfway point of Warrior Nun and I’m just as impressed as I was from the beginning. There’s so much I want to say but I’m going to try and be as spoiler-free as possible so I’ll just give you the highlights. We finally get a sneak peek into why Dr. Salvius is so hellbent (sometimes I’m super punny) on opening a portal and fighting the church. Ava comes face to face with what the OCS is up against and Lilith makes a hard choice.

Fantastic Voyage: Ava and JC head off to do a fake-out by taking a ferry to Morocco with the intention of staying on the ferry and faking out every one chasing them by returning to another port in Portugal and continuing onward from there. Their budding romance is one of the most realistic, summer-loving/meet cute, nontoxic things that I have seen on screen. I love that her inner monologue is usually a reversal of the male objectification that we normally see, it shows that women also have thoughts about people they are interested in, and (GASP) sometimes it’s purely physical and sexual. I also like that JC seems to be OK with Ava’s innocence and doesn’t try to take advantage of her and respects her physical space unless given permission and her autonomy and I loved he initiating their first kiss (and a little bit more), even if it was to get out of answering his questions because she’s been wanting that kiss since the first episode. 9and more)

Smash the (Church) Patriarchy: Sister Beatrice is not here for being told what to do, she’s here for doing the right thing. I love the way her and Sister Mary are all about questioning the male-centric hierarchy of the church and are willing to defy orders and rebel when it seems that the male (Cardinal) giving the orders is not making good calls. I love how the writers make Beatrice and Mary two sides of the same coin, while Mary takes a more “Screw you, I do what I want” approach, Sister Beatrice is all about smashing the hierarchy from the inside with quick quips and tea spilling, she gets a full picture and asks all the questions.

Science Facts/Religion Fiction: We finally get an explanation of what Divinium is and Dr. Salvius shows security footage of the OCS attacking her lab security staff to show that the Vatican has declared war on her because she found a way to make a bridge to heaven. The Cardinal is still on his patriarchal bullshizz and even after the Doc says she wants to go to heaven, he insists that she is wrong, he knows best and her bridge goes to hell. He also thinks that she is unjustified in attacking or declaring war on the Vatican, even though they attacked her first because his attack was justified. I also love Sister Beatrice and Father Vincent questioning the Cardinal’s motives and orders and leaning on their consciences and not the church hierarchy.

Best Lines:

“As the chain of command rises to God, I am sure He knows he has my full support.” followed by , ” You may always count on me to remain faithful. To God.” – Sister Beatrice to the Cardinal when he tries to get her to side with him. It was the clean, verbal “miss me with that bullsh**” that we all needed and the Cardinal wasn’t expecting , especially from a woman but, deserved.

“The church sells dreams, it’s time for someone to sell reality.” – Dr. Salvius to Father Vincent on why she is trying to open the portal no matter the cost.

Episode MVP: Sister Mary. Everything about her is bad ass and everything the patriarchy hates. She’s a free thinker, she does what she wants, she’s smart and she’s a fighter.  Watching her go to battle on multiple occasions with Sister Lilith in some of the most realistic fight scenes in a tv show was fun and her logic and quips made it easy to root for her and her logic and emotions make it easy to be team Mary all the way.

Overall: If this episode was the season finale of the show, I would be checking Twitter every day to find out when the show was coming back because GAWD DAMN! was that ending FIRE! Luckily ( I really hope it doesn’t go downhill from here) there are five more episodes and if they are even half as good as the ones leading up to them, there’s more fire on the horizon. This midway point episode tied up everything we’ve learned about the Halo, Ava, the OCS and Dr. Salvius as tight as a newborn baby whose parents have perfected their swaddling method. It answered all the lingering questions and paved the way for the next chapter of this amazing story. There are NO plot holes, which is rare in a supernatural, religion-based show and nary a question about mythology because everything makes sense and the story is pretty easy to follow. Storywise it is a perfect mash-up of Buffy and Supernatural but, it requires very little suspension of belief and logic in order to just go with the story and plot. I also like how this episode puts the nail in the coffin of any thoughts the viewer might have had about how “F*** the Patriarchy” this show was and I’m here for it. This episode was directed by a woman and it shows, especially in the brief almost sex scene, the way it doesn’t ogle Ava or seem salacious, everything from the facial framing to the action and body shots is done perfectly and if you’ve ever wanted to know what the female gaze looks like, it is here in every scene.

Rating: 9.6

Review: Warrior Nun S1E4 “Ecclesiasticus 26:9-10”

Warrior Nun

After Ava’s escape from the convent, in her attempt to live her life, she heads out to find JC and her new “friends” unaware that Arq-Tech is after her and they might just turn her in. The squatters are heading to a new, new home and while the others are happy she’s safe and back,  Zori and Randall are not okay with her tagging along causing a fight between Zori and JC that ends with them finding out one possible reason why Dr. Salvius is looking for Ava and since there is no honor among thieves, this leaves Randall with an opening and fully on board with turning Ava in without the rest of the group’s knowledge.

I Need A Hero: In the early moments of the episode Ava attempts to save a drunken young woman she thinks is about to be assaulted by a man in an alley but, it turns out that she was leading him into a trap and Ava ends up stabbed and collateral damage which sours her, on the whole, being a hero thing.  But, it comes full circle when she decides to run off to anywhere with JC but, can’t bring herself to do it when she remembers that if she didn’t kill herself what else could the nun be up to? So, she sets off to save her only friend, young Diego who she fears will meet a similar fate to her original ending if she doesn’t step in and save him.

Called It: In flashbacks, we see how Ava became a sassy badass that she is today and it wasn’t all a bed of roses, more like a crown of nails bestowed upon her by the cruel and sadistic nurse nun who claimed she committed suicide. It’s heartbreaking to watch but, character building and filled to the brim with clever writing and acting. The confrontation leads to admissions that are far more sinister than we might have originally thought and as the nurse attempts to kill Ava again she ends up accidentally dead at Ava’s hands and she embraces Diego who truly believes now that Ava is an angel sent to save him and others.

All You Need is Love: JC risks it all and decides to go on the run with Ava because she has it bad for her and it’s kind of nice and organic. Normally these scenarios lean heavily on damsels in distress and white knights but, their budding romance is more about adventure, attraction, and getting to know each other. Whether they make it through the season or not, I really like how real they keep it and how much agency they give Ava who now has control over her body AND her life.

He Moves In Mysterious Ways: Sister Mary realizes that Sister Shannon may have feared for her life more than she let on and might have something hidden behind the wall in her room, meaning she had to phase to get there, so it must have been something pretty important. The power-hungry Sister Lilith is made a side deal with the double-dealing cardinal who wants her to kill Ava for the halo and the other sisters begin to question the Cardinal’s motives and way of doing things when he sends them on a Dividium heist at Arq-tech.

Overall: This was an amazingly choreographed episode where all the pieces feed into each other and set up things to come perfectly. There were action-filled moments, tender moments that could bring you to tears, romantic moments that seemed authentic and filled with hope, funny moments that bring you joy, and none of these moments, packed into this 45-minute episode, felt out of place. I believed Dr. Salvius’ declaration of war on the church and was concerned by the “Only I know what to do with this power” level of cis white male privilege that the Cardinal exuded in every scene. When Lilith came to call on Ava and tried to take the halo by force at his command in the final seconds of the episode, I couldn’t wait to hit play and get to the next episode!

Rating: 8.9

Review: Warrior Nun S1E3 “Ephesians 6:11”

Warrior Nun

When we last left our heroine, she had been left at a party in a lab by her new housemates and kidnapped by the catholic churches league of demon assassins, Ephesians 6:11 is all about Ava learning about the power her new body mod holds and what is expected of the bearer of the halo.

In The Beginning: Ava wakes up, unable to move and overhears Lilith and Beatrice talking, with Lilith plotting to take the halo out of her even if it means killing her.  The halo makes Ava float above, then phase through the bed she was sleeping on alarming the sisters. As Father Vincent takes Ava on a walk through the churches archive he gives her a history of the halo bearers and their sacred mission, from God, with the help of the angel Adrial’s halo.

The Order of The Cruciform Swords (OCS): So, up until now the badass nun posse has been going by simply “The Order”, in this episode we finally get their full name. Father Vincent shares his theory that the angel Adrial has chosen Ava to wear his halo and the Cardinal agrees to give him one chance to prove it. Ava begins training and Sister Lilith, being super petty, is her sparring partner since abilities are unique to the bearer weapons phase through her and the ones that land she can’t feel which infuriates Lilith and makes me wonder if the person the OG bearer was warning Sister Mary not to trust was Lilith.

History 101: Throughout the episode, Father Vincent teaches Ava about the history of the Order, the Sisters, the halo, and the battle which gives the viewer a very firm dose of the mythology that the series is built on. Considering this a show rooted loosely in Catholic mysticism I liked the push back from Ava, like when she questions why there is no statue of Areala but, there is one of the first priests who had Vincent’s job. I also liked her questioning if she is like Areala, as Vincent keeps saying, then maybe she never wanted any of this either, and maybe having someone else’s will thrust upon her and a foreign object thrust inside her without consent. It is quite possible that, as Ava suggests, that she too was OK with dying, was done fighting, was ready for it and, didn’t like being pulled back to the world of the living.

Didn’t See That Coming:  I wasn’t expecting the Arq-Tech CEO to show up at the squatters next summer home and ask them to rat out Ava if she contacted them. The pop up was unexpected and there was something simultaneously charming AND sinister about her sitting at the dining table eating while waiting for them to essentially break in.

Meet Cute and Deadly: As Ava heads to Father Vincent’s office to learn more about Areala and the Tarask (the demon form that killed the first Halo Bearer) she meets Sister “Shotgun” Mary and immediately likes her, her badass name and her kick-ass vibe.  I see a partnership looming and I am here for the two warriors with the dirtiest mouths and the least amount of f***s , kicking ass, and taking names in the near future. Even

Overall: This isn’t a straight action show, there’s a real story here with good, thought out characters and three episodes in I’m pretty drawn to the show. The writers give us a slow burn that’s worth the fire and while the show isn’t the typical binge-able Netflix fare, from what I’ve seen so far, it is well worth the watch. The religious overtones and explorations of faith and duty are all over the episode but, they’re not heavy-handed nor overreaching. I really like the way they handle the religious aspects of the show by giving both sides and allowing viewers to examine for themselves what they believe. The acting is subtle and at times you forget you’re watching a show because of how well written and expertly acted everything is. There are no weak links or one-note performances in the whole show, no one is a place holder or a stereotype, everyone is nuanced and every performance can hold it’s own against the others making it a technical masterpiece.

Rating: 8.6

Review: Warrior Nun S1E2 “Proverbs 31:25”

Warrior Nun

Ava is settling in nicely with her new squatter friends and trying to enjoy her new chance at a mobile life. She’s trying to navigate all of these new feelings and experiences and There’s a demon cutting, literally with his fiery talons, his way through town in search of Ava and the halo.  Sister Mary is on a quest for vengeance that opens her up to possible fall out.

I Can See Your Halo: Ava wakes up in bed and is pleased to discover that she’s still alive and can still walk, she spends another day enjoying all the things couldn’t before, like the feeling of sand between her toes and fingers. After an incident with a too cold shower and flirting with J.C.,  the cute boy who rescued her from the pool, she learns that she has a scarification-like body mod on her back. We also learn that Cardinal Duretti’s ring glows bright blue when in proximity with the halo so, when JC, Ava, and the squatter brigade sneak into an Arq-Tech party there’s a hint of intrigue.

Meanwhile, Back at the Convent: Mary is more concerned with finding out what happened to her mentor and friend than she is with tracking down Ava and retrieving the halo, which causes tension between her and Sister Lilith, the next in line to bear the halo. The top priests of the secret order, are trying to figure out how to contain the fact that they lost the halo and it is now residing in the body of someone untested and not ready. The priest handling the day to missions is starting to rethink retrieving the halo and wonders if the artifact is where/with who it should be.

New Players on the Field: This episode introduced Arq-Tech and it’s benevolent CEO who Ava knows because she “creates superpowers”. At the event where Ava and her new friends are party crashing, the female CEO, Dr. Salvius,  announces that she can now “Higgs Field for a full minute” and create a quantum portal (because what could go wrong with that) unbeknownst to her guests, except for the cardinal, she infuses her tech with found, possibly angelic/demonic artifacts (again, what could possibly go wrong) .

It’s Going Down: Ava sees a child in a locked room in one of the Arq-Tech labs she was exploring and believes that it is a key to discovering what happened to her. while JC urges her to run, she goes back and tries to free him. While attempting the rescue, an alarm goes off, and while attempting to run from the guards she finds herself face to face with the demon and her back all aglow. Luckily the badass army of sisters shows up to save her with the father in tow, she attempts to escape but, is drugged.

Overall: Inbetween Mary going medieval on people, Ava enjoying and trying everything and a corporeal demon hunting the halo, this episode manages to slip in a lot of talks about ethical dilemmas and ownership of history, artifacts, and relics. The Cardinal debates if Arq-Tech should have the artifacts in the first place and whether or not they would use them properly, while Dr. Salvius questions who owns the artifacts and believes they should be an open market.  The priest debates with another nun if Sister Lilith should get the halo when this is all said and done, simply because she feels entitled to it and has waited for it, or if Ava should keep it and maybe her getting the halo was in itself an act of divine choosing. So far the showrunners and writers seem to be masters of leaving on a perfect cliffhanger that feeds seamlessly into the next episode and the writing makes it so each episode peels back another level that seems crucial to the season’s endgame.

Rating: 8.3

Review: Warrior Nun S1E1 “Psalm 46:5”

Warrior Nun

Netflix‘s latest trek into comic book adaptation series brings us the divine supernatural/action hybrid Warrior Nun. The series starts off with the funeral rites being performed over the lifeless body of a quadriplegic teenager, under the watchful eye of a cruel nun and a sympathetic priest. In an adjacent chamber of the burial catacombs a wounded warrior and her team rush in.

Origin Story Extraordinaire: Ava is resurrected from the dead when an attack happens in the tomb next to where she was being prepared for burial and a fearful nun, in an attempt to save the “halo”, injects the sacred object into her lifeless corpse. Ava is brought back to life with some pretty awesome powers and no idea that the demons that attacked the adjacent tomb are on the hunt for her and the great power that she now possesses. The second in command of the demon-fighting team is tasked by the priest to remove the halo from Ava, even if it means killing her so that they can put it into a worthy vessel and continue their fight.

I Really Liked: Ava visiting her only friend, a young boy named Diego who lived at the orphanage where she grew up and him encouraging her to do everything she wanted to before she died again. She takes his advice to heart and does everything from running, just to run because she can use her legs again to jumping into a pool, taking molly and hitting a night club.

Overall: I found the pilot really compelling and super interesting, even people with no knowledge of the comic book can catch up and take the ride. The premiere episode doesn’t try to shove the mythology behind the story into a single episode, instead, it gets you to learn more about Ava, speculates about how she died, I really don’t trust that nun from the orphanage and get sucked into her new life. The pacing makes it so you find yourself worried about her safety when you realize that the supernatural nun army AND demons are looking for her and she is so caught up in the bliss she has with her newfound, active, life that has no idea about what is coming.

Rating: 8.5

The Old Guard Gets a Second Trailer

The Old Guard has a new trailer. The Netflix film is an adaptation of the series by Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, and Jodi Wynne, and published by Image Comics. The film stars Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and is written by Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythwood.

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods is an essential part of Vietnam War cinema

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is a new Vietnam War movie classic, worthy of a spot among Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Platoon. These movies all stand on their own and are inherently different because Vietnam itself was so unlike conventional warfare. It quite simply resists a particular storytelling mold due to it being a very singular kind of conflict, a different species of war. For Lee’s movie to make it into that list it needed to honor that same level of uniqueness present in those other films. I can gladly say it overwhelmingly achieves this.

Da 5 Bloods follows a group of four black Vietnam War veterans that go back to Vietnam to look for a box full of gold they buried during a mission with the intention of retrieving it later on. The group is led by Stormin’ Norman, played by an intensely magnetic Chadwick Boseman, a leader/teacher figure that basically acts as the Bloods’ own war version of Malcom X and Martin Luther King.

The film alternates between flashbacks and the present time (where it spends the majority of its time), with no de-aging tech used for the four main guys during flashbacks. Boseman’s character is the only one that looks young in the flashbacks because he’s the only one who didn’t make it out of the war.

It was so refreshing not being distracted by any de-aging techniques, which made The Irishman such a frustrating watch for me. I couldn’t go five minutes at a time without asking myself why a another actor wasn’t cast in the role of the younger Robert DeNiro.

In fact, the decision not to make the four main characters younger digitally also plays into some of the film’s strongest themes: combat memory and PTSD. That the same actors played both past and present versions of their characters gave the flashbacks a tragic sense of remembrance that communicated the very rough reality of how combat vets never truly leave the war behind. It’s a constant thing that makes vets think their wars never really end (another theme explored in the movie).

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

As stated earlier, the story stays the great majority of its time in the present. Their final mission in Vietnam–the retrieval of the buried gold–brings with it discussions on reparations and why black soldiers specifically deserve what’s rightfully theirs due to fighting for an America that didn’t respect them nor acknowledged their sacrifices back on the homefront.

This theme stuck with the movie throughout, making sure it was a part of every discussion that took place between the four vets. Spike Lee makes the point come across even clearer with his signature cuts to archival footage of black protests and black leaders like MLK and Malcom X adding their two-cents on any given discussion, even if it’s in presence alone. It evokes a kind of continuity for the black soldiers, seeing in Vietnam a contradiction of the very idea of military service. Why fight when black lives are being disregarded back home? Why not find this gold and give it back to the people? These questions lie at the heart of the film.

Black Lives Matter discourses are also echoed throughout the film thanks to its aggressive focus on how black military service means an entirely different thing altogether when compared with white military service. This sets this particular Vietnam War movie apart from the others, making it so different and unique in its own right. Apocalypse Now, for instance, explores war as madness. Platoon goes for misguided leadership, the absence of order, and a complete lack of accountability in war. Full Metal Jacket approaches the war as a morally corrupt and senseless act of mass violence that’s too far gone for it to be redeemed. Da 5 Bloods is about how something as historically charged as race in America completely changes what soldiers fight for. How society treats these soldiers at home will determine how their war is fought on the battlefield.

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

In other words, America brings a multitude of Americas to war, each meaning something different depending on who you ask and what color their skin is.

Delroy Lindo’s character, Paul, best exemplifies all of these metaphors. Paul is the character that most visibly carries the trauma of war on his persona. He’s unstable, angry, and resistant to help from the other vets. He’s a challenging character to engage with, but the movie’s genius is often seen through him as we go from being frustrated with Paul to understanding why it’s been so hard for him to leave the war behind.

Lindo puts on a performance for the ages. He grabs the audience and pulls them in close to him whether they want to or not, but it’s all for a cause. Spike Lee entrusts him with his signature monologue sequences, in which an actor stares straight to the camera to address a problem head-on and without restraint. Lindo steps up to the challenge and gives a monologue that we should be discussing for years to come as it ruminates on what happens when a country asks its most oppressed communities to go to war in its name. The monologue ties in well with the opening scenes of the movie in which we see archival footage of Muhammad Ali explaining why he refused to serve in the Vietnam War is shown.

Actors Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, and Clarke Peters all do a fantastic job stepping into the shoes of the other three vets. They represent a cohesive unit that also struggles with leaving the war behind while also representing what Vietnam meant to them through their own character arcs. Clarke Peters in particular always keeps up with Lindo’s intensity, playing the part of the moral compass without falling to the trappings of passing judgment on any of his friends. Jonathan Majors as Paul’s son also becomes a mayor player as his fractured relationship with his father manifests and changes as the movie progresses. To a point, he represents inherited trauma and how the war extends beyond the combat veteran’s experience to become a generational problem.

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

Da 5 Bloods is a powerhouse of emotion, politics, and black history that easily fits in with the Black Lives Matter movement currently voicing their anger on the streets today, but it never takes for granted that it’s first and foremost a Vietnam War movie. It’s important it doesn’t run away from that as the black experience in war has seldom been explored with the seriousness it deserves.

Vietnam War cinema in America has largely been dominated by white experiences of it. Spike Lee’s Vietnam War movie is invaluable because it sheds light on why it’s important everyone knows that not every soldier fights for their country for the same reasons. The color of a soldier’s skin dictates which version of America they’re fighting for, and they all differ on their definition of freedom.

Get a New Look at The Last Days of American Crime

The Last Days of American Crime is a brand new comic adaptation coming to Netflix On June 5 and we have a new look. The film is based on the comic series published by Radical Publishing and created by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.

As a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez), a career criminal who was never able to hit the big score, teams up with famous gangster progeny Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), and black market hacker Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster), to commit the heist of the century and the last crime in American history before the signal goes off.

Netflix Reveals Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini’s The Last Days of American Crime

There’s been rumors of the comic series The Last Days of American Crime coming to film for some time and it looks like it’s finally happening at Netflix. The Last Days of American Crime was a comic series published by Radical Publishing and created by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.

As a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez), a career criminal who was never able to hit the big score, teams up with famous gangster progeny Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), and black market hacker Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster), to commit the heist of the century and the last crime in American history before the signal goes off.

The comic series was amazing and it’s exciting we finally get to see a live-action version. The Last Days of American Crime comes to Netflix on June 5.

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