My Cultural Diet

Quick reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc., as I enjoy them. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links. 

I’ve never played Dota 2, the game on which this Netflix series is based. That didn’t matter much with previous seasons, but the third season seems to dive really deeply into game lore, with the assumption that viewers are familiar with it. I was not. I loved the animation, designs, world building, etc., but felt completely lost in the last few episodes, story-wise. The finale is obviously meant to be epic and emotional, but it fell flat for me. I suspect, however, that Dota 2 players might have a very different experience.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is ultra-stylish and ultra-graphic — much like Love, Death & Robots, it’s not for kids — with some truly stunning animated action. (Kudos to Studio Trigger.) It occasionally wrestles with some deeper themes re. technology’s impact on humanity, but Ghost in the Shell it most certainly is not. Sometimes it feels like an edgy tragedy thanks to its melancholy tone, while other times, it’s all about the nihilistic excess. Your mileage will most definitely vary.
I didn’t like this as much as the first season. I like fantastical world building, but it felt like they crammed in way too much into this season. As a result, everything felt rushed and half-baked. But there’s still enough that I like that I’m looking forward to season three.
I’ve never played Dota 2, so I don’t know how well Dota: Dragon’s Blood stacks up to the source material. But as far as high fantasy with elves, dragons, and evil demons go, it’s pretty solid stuff with a suitably elaborate mythology. Also, lots of graphic violence, so definitely not a series for kids. I enjoyed Studio Mir’s work on Voltron: Legendary Defender, and their character designs and animation here feel like a natural evolution.
In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, a young girl becomes a popular singer in a virtual universe, only to encounter a strange beast-like creature. Story-wise, I think the film tries to do a bit too much, though its heart is always in the right place. Visually, however, Belle is astounding, thanks to its nigh-seamless blend of cel animation and CGI.
When is a Godzilla title not a Godzilla title? When it’s Godzilla Singular Point. Sure, there are plenty of kaiju and even a version of Jet Jaguar, but it’s bogged down with technobabble about ancient prophecies, extra-dimensional lifeforms, time-bending supercomputers, and something called an “Orthogonal Diagonalyzer.” I guess I want more spectacle from a Godzilla title, and less labyrinthian, Evangelion-esque mythology.