REVIEW: WHAT/IF – SEASON 1

Renée Zellweger, Jane Levy, and Blake Jenner in What/If (2019)

 

Main Cast

Renée Zellweger (Appaloosa)
Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe)
Blake Jenner (Cousin Sarah)
Daniella Pineda (The Originals)Renée Zellweger in What/If (2019)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Dave Annable (666 Park Avenue)
Louis Herthum (Westworld)
Allie MacDonald (Cardinal)
David Barrera (Generation Kill)
Juan Castano (Sharknado 2)
Samantha Marie Ware (Glee)
Keith Powers (Famous In Love)
Gabriel Mann (Revenge)
Julian Sands (Smallville)
Kristen Hager (Wanted)
Brenda Bakke (Under Siege 2)

Renée Zellweger and Gabriel Mann in What/If (2019)It’s tricky to explain Renée Zellweger’s new Netflix show What/If to somebody who hasn’t seen it, because it’s an exercise in diametrically opposed contradictions. It’s a sexy thriller, even though it’s about as sexy as slow-transit constipation. Its unique selling point is that it follows the consequences of actions, even though that also describes every single story ever told by anyone in the entire history of humankind. It’s a television series, even though its title is punctuated like a sub-tier early noughties boyband.Jane Levy and Juan Castano in What/If (2019)What I can say with confidence is that What/If is trash. The pilot episode was directed by the man who directed Sharon Stone’s 1993 boobathon Sliver, who appears to have been preserved in amber ever since the moment that film wrapped. The characters, the dialogue, the sets and costumes and music are all firmly in mid-90s, low-budget erotic thriller territory, and there’s barely a concession to modernity to be found anywhere. It’s confusing, too; the second scene takes place a year after the first scene, but the third scene takes place three days before the second scene. What’s more, almost all of the episode’s establishing shots take place during a thunderstorm for some genuinely unfathomable reason.Renée Zellweger in What/If (2019)One of the lead characters runs a struggling molecular sequencing company, despite being so aggressively stupid that it’s a wonder she ever figured out cutlery. The profession is an afterthought – clearly, nobody from the writer down cares a jot about the nuts and bolts of molecular sequencing – but it adds a vaguely futuristic sheen to the series, giving it shades of a Hallmark Channel Black Mirror reboot.Renée Zellweger in What/If (2019)Taken on the surface, What/If looks like a grand error; like another Cloverfield Paradox sold off to Netflix in a fire sale because its studio couldn’t believe what a clunker it was. But that’s the weird thing about What/If. I think – and I might be wrong, because this is pure conjecture – that its trashiness might actually be sort of deliberate.The best case for this argument lies with Zellweger’s character, a sexually voracious billionaire puppetmaster taken to wandering around her sprawling apartment late at night pontificating about the nature of destiny versus free will into a 2010-model dictaphone. Read that sentence back. That has to be deliberate, right? No sensible person, with the possible exception of EL James, would ever create a character this preposterous on purpose, surely. And I haven’t even mentioned her primary hobby yet. It’s doing archery in her kitchen. Of course it is.And Zellweger relishes every second of it. It’s a huge, camp, scenery-licking wink of a performance that channels every broad rich bitch trope you care to imagine. She’s the sort of person who writes “AT ANY COST” in block capitals on a piece of paper before we smash-cut to a day when her new book At Any Cost has become an epoch-defining bestseller. She’s the sort of person who keeps her keys in an enormous plexiglass cube in the middle of the room. She’s the sort of person who, when her butler sniffs that one of kitchen arrows has hit the target “left of centre”, smirks: “Three words no one has ever used to describe me”.
In What/If, Zellweger’s character meets a barman and invites him home. He declines, and so she escalates her offer. For one night with him, she offers to pay his wife (the molecular sequencer) $80m to rescue her ailing molecular sequencing business. It’s a plot, as the sequencer states in a rare moment of self-awareness, that’s been “ripped out of a bad 90s movie”. But it doesn’t end there, because it starts to look as if Zellweger chose the barman deliberately in order to ignite a bizarre Rube Goldberg sequence of events. Which is silly, right? The whole plot is so gaudy that it has to be tongue in cheek. But the thing is, Zellweger is the exception here. The rest of the characters, and all the subplots, are tedious and witless and played absolutely straight. Had What/If been The Renée Zellweger Show, it would have been fantastic. As it stands, she’s the only thing saving the series from terminal mediocrity.whatif_102_unit_00954rcSo, yes, What/If is tricky to explain. It isn’t the best show you’ll ever see. It isn’t even the worst best show. It might be the best worst show, but then again it also might be the worst worst show. Honestly, I’m stumped.

 

 

 

REVIEW: JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

Starring

Chris Pratt (Passengers)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3)
Rafe Spall (I Give It A Year)
Justice Smith (Paper Towns)
Daniella Pineda (The Originals)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
B. D. Wong (Gotham)
Geraldine Chaplin (Talk To Her)
Jeff Goldblum (Thor: Ragnarok)
Peter Jason (Mortal Kombat)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)

Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)A small team of mercenaries arrives on the abandoned Isla Nublar to collect DNA from the remains of the Indominus rex at the bottom of the park’s lagoon. After successfully collecting a bone fragment, the team’s survivors barely escape the island following attacks by the Mosasaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex; three of them do not make it.Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)A U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. debates whether Isla Nublar’s dinosaurs should be saved from an impending volcanic eruption from the island’s thought to be dormant volcano Mount Sibo. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm testifies that the dinosaurs should be allowed to perish to correct John Hammond’s mistake of cloning them. Meanwhile, Jurassic World’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing, has established the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the animals.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)After the Senate rules against rescuing the dinosaurs, Hammond’s former partner, Benjamin Lockwood, summons Claire to his Northern California estate. Lockwood and his aide, Eli Mills, reveal a plan to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary free from human interference. Claire is needed to help reactivate the park’s dinosaur tracking system to locate the animals, particularly Blue, the last surviving Velociraptor. Although they are estranged, Claire recruits Jurassic World’s former Velociraptor trainer and Blue’s alpha, Owen Grady, to help capture her.Bryce Dallas Howard and Justice Smith in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)On Isla Nublar, Claire and former park technician Franklin Webb reactivate the online tracking system. Owen, paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez, and a mercenary team led by Ken Wheatley search for and find Blue. The encounter escalates, resulting in a mercenary soldier shooting Blue, and Wheatley tranquilizing Owen. The mercenaries take Zia with them to treat Blue’s injury. The mercenary ship, loaded with the captured dinosaurs, departs for the U.S. mainland as the volcano violently erupts and the uncaptured dinosaurs including a lone Brachiosaurus are left behind die in the eruption. Claire, Franklin, and Owen sneak aboard in time and assist Zia in transfusing Blue with Tyrannosaurus blood. The group now realize that the captured dinosaurs were never being transported to a new island and are for another purpose.Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)At the estate, Lockwood’s orphaned pre-teen granddaughter Maisie overhears Mills and auctioneer Gunnar Eversol secretly planning to auction the captured dinosaurs on the black market. They will also unveil the Indoraptor, a new genetically-modified dinosaur created by geneticist Dr. Henry Wu using Indominus rex and Velociraptor DNA. Wu wants Blue’s DNA to create an enhanced Indoraptor, unaware that Blue’s blood is contaminated. After Maisie informs Lockwood about the auction, he confronts Mills, who smothers him with a pillow. Maisie is later revealed to have been cloned from Lockwood’s deceased daughter and is the reason John Hammond, who opposed human cloning, ended their association.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)The dinosaurs are transported to Lockwood’s estate and caged. Zia and Franklin narrowly evade capture, but Owen and Claire are apprehended and confined. Owen incites a Stygimoloch into breaking open their cell. They find Maisie, who leads them to the auction where the Indoraptor is being sold despite Wu’s protests that it is a prototype. Owen disrupts the proceedings by luring the Stygimoloch into the room. In the ensuing chaos, Wheatley tranquilizes the Indoraptor to extract a tooth as a trophy, but it feigns sedation and kills Wheatley, Eversol, and others as it escapes. The Indoraptor hunts Owen, Claire, and Maisie throughout the mansion. Zia releases Blue, who attacks the Indoraptor, causing it to fall through a glass roof to its death.Chris Pratt in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)When a hydrogen cyanide gas leak threatens the caged dinosaurs, Maisie frees them, despite Owen’s objections. Mills attempts to flee with the Indominus rex bone but is devoured by a Carnotaurus and the Tyrannosaurus, which tramples the bone. Owen, Claire, Maisie, Zia, and Franklin safely escape, while Blue and the other released dinosaurs flee the estate grounds. In a new U.S. Senate hearing, Dr. Malcolm declares the beginning of a Neo-Jurassic Age, where humans and dinosaurs must learn to coexist. The closing scenes show the freed dinosaurs including Blue, roaming wilderness and outer urban areas.Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, and Justice Smith in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)This movie was much better then anticipated. Always been a fan of the Jurassic movies but they have always have been a similar predictable story with simailar characters and plot lines. This movie gives the franchise a fresh feel while maintaining aspects of what has made the franchise one of the most popular of all time.