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Netflix presents ‘Cyberpunk Edgerunners’: Jack me into everything!

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Edgerunners courier spoilers too!

 Set in the dystopian cybernetic criminal world of the wildly popular video game Cyberpunk 2077, where megacorporations raise corruption to an art form and black market mercenaries called Edgerunners risk explosive insanity to make a living, the story centers on the descent of a very-poor teenager David into the world of Cyberpunks!

So, David Martinez (Kenichiro Ohashi) and his mom are about as dirt-poor as you can get, even in this filthy and sad future world of Cyberpunk, eking out an existence in the slums while mom Gloria works multiple jobs to ensure David can continue going to the prestigious Arasaka Academy. Inevitably David is bullied for his sorely lacking financial status and despises going to school there, but mom is determined not only for her sons success, but for his eventual escape from the slums after he gets a good megacorporation job after finishing school. And all of that, the hopes and meager dreams that keep the denizens of the ghettos barely alive, is crushed in an instant when David’s beloved mother is tragically killed.

The show makes very clear that Mom, her presence and her dreams and her hopes for her son, was the only thing holding David steady in a mundane humanoid existence. Almost immediately after her death, David proceeds to dive headlong into the Edgerunner life, but not before giving the school bullies a taste of the concentrated rage he’s been swallowing. They bleeping deserved it, too.

After his cyber-tech thieving targets on the subway are stolen by an extremely fast Netrunner named Lucy (Aoi Yuki), David is introduced the real underbelly of Night City, and the Edgerunner life. Maine (Hiroki Tochi) happens to run his own semi-successful crew of Cyberpunks and Edgerunners, and being a previous client of David’s EMT mom, Maine reluctantly takes David under his wing after it becomes clear that David’s heading for a Cyberpunk meltdown of epic proportions and should be reined in or at least taught the ropes!

Rounding out the rest of the crew is – Dorio (Michiko Kaiden), Maine’s second-in-command and girlfriend; the stoic and seemingly-cold veteran Kiwi (Takako Honda); Falco (Yasuyuki Kase), the twitchy getaway driver; the particularly foul-mouthed techie of the crew Pilar (Wataru Takagi) who’s also Rebecca’s older brother; and Rebecca (Tomoyo Kurosawa) herself, trigger-happy and full of righteous energy to slaughter their enemies in true Harley Quinn fashion. Also are fringe friends Faraday (Kazuhiko Inoue), a Militech fixer who provides Maine’s crew with corporate espionage jobs, and Ripperdoc (Kenjiro Tsuda) who, as his handle suggests, installs and maintains and upgrades cybernetic implants for Main’s crew.

The show addresses many heavy topics relatable right now despite being set in a dystopian future – the treatment of our war veterans after the war is over, corporate greed and the virtual slavery of its workers, the lengths people will go to to prevent drowning in poverty, debts owed to our parents’ dreams, the non-blood families we make around ourselves, even the question of surviving versus actual living. Even surrounded by a kind of neon-noir nightmare life, Cyberpunk Edgerunners is bombastic, colorful, and zany in a “Ima kill you but in the funniest way possible” kind of way. There is a great deal of death and horrific blood-spray, but that should be entirely expected. And the soundtrack is absolutely f*cking EPIC ya’ll.

Absolutely no one needs to have played the video game in order to enjoy the show, and indeed, the video game enjoyed a resurgence in popularity from fans who binged the show and then went to play Cyberpunk 2077! Chase down and blow up those corporate villains with Maine and his crew in Cyberpunk Edgerunners, on Netflix now!

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“Kung Fu Panda 4” — A Letdown for True Fans

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As a longtime fan of the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, I eagerly anticipated the release of “Kung Fu Panda 4.” Unfortunately, this latest installment feels more like a blatant cash grab than a heartfelt continuation of Po’s journey. Despite its dazzling animation, the film falls short in delivering the magic that made us fall in love with the series in the first place.

A Recycled Plot

The storyline of “Kung Fu Panda 4” lacks originality. Po’s quest to save yet another endangered village from an ancient threat feels redundant and uninspired. Instead of the rich character development and emotional depth we’ve come to expect, we’re left with a series of disjointed action scenes and lackluster jokes. 

Neglecting the Furious Five

One of the most disappointing aspects of the film is its treatment of the beloved Furious Five. These characters, who played crucial roles in Po’s previous adventures, are now relegated to the background with minimal impact on the story. Their interactions with Po, once a highlight of the series, are reduced to mere cameos.

Stunning Yet Hollow Animation

While the animation in “Kung Fu Panda 4” is as visually stunning as ever, it can’t mask the film’s weak script. The vibrant landscapes and expertly choreographed fight scenes are impressive, but they feel empty and superficial without a compelling story. It’s as if the filmmakers hoped that impressive visuals alone could carry the film.

Flat Humor

The humor, which was a cornerstone of the earlier films, falls disappointingly flat in this installment. The jokes rely heavily on slapstick and recycled gags, lacking the wit and charm that made us laugh in previous movies. This reliance on tired humor only reinforces the sense that “Kung Fu Panda 4” is more interested in maintaining a profitable brand than in telling a meaningful story.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, “Kung Fu Panda 4” is a letdown for true franchise fans. It fails to capture the heart, creativity, and narrative depth that made its predecessors special. For those hoping for a return to form, this film may feel like a disappointing attempt to cash in on past successes rather than a genuine effort to continue Po’s journey. Let’s hope DreamWorks learns from this misstep and returns to what made “Kung Fu Panda” great in the first place.

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The Idea Man

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Disney’s latest documentary, “The Idea Man,” offers an enthralling and intimate portrait of Jim Henson, the mastermind behind the Muppets and a pioneer in the world of puppetry and children’s entertainment. This documentary not only honors Henson’s legacy but also delves deeply into the creative processes that made him a visionary in the entertainment industry.

“The Idea Man” begins by chronicling Henson’s early years, showcasing his initial forays into puppetry and television. The documentary paints a vivid picture of a young, ambitious Henson who dared to dream beyond conventional storytelling methods. Through rare footage and personal anecdotes from family, friends, and colleagues, viewers gain a comprehensive understanding of Henson’s innovative spirit.

One of the documentary’s strengths lies in its exploration of Henson’s multifaceted personality. Interviews with those who knew him best reveal a man driven by an insatiable curiosity and a profound desire to connect with audiences of all ages. The film highlights how Henson’s unique ability to infuse his creations with humor, heart, and a touch of whimsy made characters like Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and Big Bird beloved worldwide.

“The Idea Man” delves into the meticulous craftsmanship that went into Henson’s work. The documentary showcases behind-the-scenes footage of Henson at work, providing an insider’s look at the creative process behind iconic projects like “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” and “Fraggle Rock.” These glimpses into his workshop reveal the painstaking detail and boundless imagination that characterized Henson’s approach to puppetry and storytelling.

The documentary also emphasizes Henson’s contributions to the broader landscape of entertainment and technology. His pioneering work in animatronics and special effects, particularly in films like “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth,” is explored in depth. Interviews with contemporary filmmakers and special effects artists underscore Henson’s lasting impact on the industry, cementing his status as a trailblazer whose influence endures.

“The Idea Man” does not shy away from the emotional aspects of Henson’s life. The documentary addresses the challenges he faced, both professionally and personally, and how he navigated the pressures of creative success. This balanced portrayal adds depth to the narrative, making it not only a celebration of Henson’s achievements but also a poignant reminder of his humanity.

Disney’s “The Idea Man” is a must-watch for fans of Jim Henson and anyone interested in the magic of creative storytelling. The documentary is a heartfelt tribute to a man whose imagination knew no bounds and whose work continues to inspire generations. Through a blend of archival footage, personal interviews, and expert analysis, “The Idea Man” offers a rich and engaging look at the life and legacy of Jim Henson.

For those searching for an insightful and inspiring documentary on one of the entertainment industry’s most influential figures, “The Idea Man” is an essential addition to your watchlist.

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Beach boys documentary

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**Rating: ★★★★☆**

Disney Plus’ new documentary, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony,” dives deep into the tumultuous, yet harmonious journey of America’s quintessential surf rock band. Directed with a keen eye for both nostalgia and narrative depth, the film offers an intimate look at the band’s rise to stardom, their internal conflicts, and their enduring legacy.

From the outset, the documentary captures the essence of The Beach Boys’ musical genius, spotlighting Brian Wilson’s unparalleled songwriting and the band’s signature harmonies that defined a generation. Archival footage, including rare studio sessions and candid home videos, paints a vivid picture of their creative process and the carefree California lifestyle that inspired their biggest hits. The inclusion of previously unreleased tracks and demos adds a layer of authenticity, giving fans a rare glimpse into the evolution of some of their most iconic songs.

Interviews with surviving band members Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine, alongside insights from music historians and contemporary artists influenced by The Beach Boys, enrich the narrative. These personal accounts are heartfelt and, at times, poignant, particularly when addressing the darker chapters of the band’s history—Brian Wilson’s struggles with mental health, the impact of drugs, and the tragic loss of Dennis and Carl Wilson.

The documentary’s strength lies in its balanced portrayal. It doesn’t shy away from the band’s internal discord and the challenges they faced, yet it also celebrates their artistic achievements and cultural impact. The visual style is vibrant, with a seamless blend of past and present, creating a tapestry that feels both nostalgic and fresh.

However, “Endless Harmony” occasionally veers into fan-service territory, glossing over certain controversies and perhaps offering a more sanitized version of events. Despite this, the documentary succeeds in providing a comprehensive overview that will satisfy long-time fans while introducing new audiences to the magic of The Beach Boys.

In conclusion, “The Beach Boys: Endless Harmony” is a must-watch for music lovers and history buffs alike. It captures the spirit of an era, the brilliance of a band, and the timeless appeal of their music. Disney Plus has delivered a documentary that is as much a celebration of The Beach Boys’ legacy as it is a testament to the enduring power of their sound and soul.

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