Valuable Life Lessons Found in ‘Judge Dredd’ (1995)

Stallone’s Judge Dredd teaches us the valuable ultimate action lessons of life.

During life’s journey, every man or woman will experience their own trials and tribulations. Over the course of time, these tests build character. The ability to overcome unexpected adversity not only builds confidence, but also creates a resolve to never give up even when faced with the toughest of circumstances.

In director Danny Cannon’s Judge Dredd, the hero is faced with unexpected circumstances that appear to change the course of his life forever. However, it is his internal resolve to beat the odds, combined with his relentless pursuit of the truth, that ultimately allow Judge Dredd, played by Sylvester Stallone, to beat the odds and emerge victorious.

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Fall from Grace

Dredd is one of the most celebrated street judges in one of several post-apocalyptic Mega-Cities. He is respected by his peers, renowned by the public, and feared by criminals. One of the earliest scenes in the film depicts Dredd single handedly intimidating a gang of criminals who are intent on bringing anarchy to the city. While reading off a list of their crimes, one of the criminals makes a move on Dredd. He casually pulls out his weapon and ends the assailant’s life. In the eyes of his superiors, Dredd’s performance is flawless; he can do no wrong.

One day while talking to a commanding officer, several of Dredd’s colleagues arrive on the scene and announce that he is under arrest for murder. In the ensuing trial, it is discovered that his DNA is inextricably linked to the crime scene. The courtroom is shocked. According to the law, Dredd should be sentenced to death, but his life is spared by a commanding officer with whom he’s had a long-standing relationship. Instead his punishment will be life behind bars in a notoriously dangerous prison.

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Self-discovery

Oddly enough, the worst thing that could happen to Dredd on his way to prison ends up becoming his saving grace. The plane designated to transport he and the other criminals to their destination crashes, killing almost everyone on board. Dredd and an inmate he helped to convict are the lone two survivors. His good fortune continues when the commanding officer who saved his life rescues him from a gang of cannibals.

It is while talking to the commanding officer that Dredd learns he was genetically engineered by the government to be a soldier; he also has a brother produced by the same method. Connecting the dots of the mystery he deciphers that it was his brother, with whom he shares identical DNA, who actually committed the murder.

Reeling from the fact that those he’s closest to have withheld his true identity from him, Dredd makes up his mind to track down his brother, put a stop to his plot for revenge and restore order to the city.

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Triumph

In an epic struggle that includes gun play and bloodshed, Dredd confronts his brother after sneaking back into the city that banished him. Confronted with the choice of joining forces with the only family he has, or upholding the law, Dredd chooses to uphold the law. In so doing, he is forced to kill his brother.

In a matter of days Dredd has gone from a prisoner with a life sentence, to a conqueror who refuses to let one man execute his plot to of tyranny over innocent civilians.

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Redemption

The epic struggle between Dredd and his estranged brother is caught on camera. During their dialogue, his brother admits to being the actual murderer and to framing Dredd to take the fall. The footage is shown to the courts, Dredd’s name is cleared, and he is offered a high-ranking position in the government. However, in his heart Dredd is still a man of the people; he turns down the government’s offer and decides to return to his former life as a street judge. Having been cleared of all wrong-doing, Dredd is more celebrated than ever. He has made the journey all the way back from condemned to redeemed.

The adage is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” 1995’s Judge Dredd, serves as a great example. When faced with insurmountable odds, one man’s refusal to give in led to not only his own redemption, but the liberation of an entire city. In life, we will all face unexpected circumstances. The important thing is to face those challenges head on, never back down, and always stick to your principles. Anyone who keeps that in mind will beat the odds and emerge victorious.

Article by Thomas J. Brown | Author bio: When I was young, my interests were Tonka Trucks and G.I. Joes. As I grew older, those interests morphed into a love of American Muscle Cars and an appreciation for combat sports. Naturally, action movies became a film genre that I find irresistible. Quality action scenes and stories of overcoming the odds will always grab my attention. It’s great to connect with an audience that appreciates these films as much as I do. My website link: http://writeaboutsports.tumblr.com/

Watch Daniel Bernhardt Train Bob Odenkirk for ‘Nobody’ (2021)

Ultimate action b-movie legend Daniel Bernhardt gets Bob Odenkirked jacked!

Well, this has to be one of the oddest videos to ever pop up in my YouTube video feed. Bob Odenkirk is best known to many as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and in the spin-off Better Call Saul. Or, to me and many others, he’s best known for his comedic work on shows like Mr. Show starring Bob and David Cross. Well, it looks like Mr. Odenkirk is apparently getting ripped and looking swole as he has beefed up to star in his own John Wick style action film (and perhaps franchise) with the upcoming film Nobody.

I’m sure you’ve seen the trailers or television commercials. (I mean, this does look to have all the makings of a modern everyman action banger!) However, in another odd example of when worlds collide, I stumbled upon this YouTube video shot for Men’s Health magazine where Bob Odenkirk goes through his Nobody training regime alongside none other than the great Daniel Bernhardt. Take a look below!

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Daniel Bernhardt Trains Bob Odenkirk

To many an ultimate action movie fan, Bernhardt is best known for his decades worth of ultimate action movies (yes, many are b-movies… but we don’t see the world that way). These include such classic roles as Alex Cardo in Bloodsport II, III and (in a different role) IV, and starring and spot roles in films like Future War (1997), Perfect Target (1997), G2 – Mortal Conquest (1999), The Librarians (2003) and The Cutter (2005).

Since his heyday as a leading man and actor in the 90s and early 2000s though, Bernhardt has transitioned more into a stunt-specific role as a stunt actor and performer. In this capacity he’s worked consistently and quite successfully in high octane scenes in films like The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), John Wick (2014), Logan (2017), Hobbs & Shaw (2019) and more.

I also have to shoutout a phenomenal action sequence from a similar funny man turned action star show with Bernhardt alongside Bill Hader in Barry. He’s also apparently done quite a bit a work as a personal trainer of sorts. Or at least a stunt performer mentor for the likes of Mr. Odenkirk as he preps for his role in Nobody.

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Bob Odenkirk Goes John Wick

The connecting factor clearly appears to be the writer and producers of NobodyDerek Kolstad and David Leitch. Both former stunt performers who worked with Bernhardt for years, these actors are quite legendary in their own ultimate action exploits as well. The duo created John Wick and it seems like they most probably connected Bernhardt with Odenkirk to help him get in shape and get his body prepared for the stunt performances.

It’s kind of a fascinating watch too. You have Bob going through his workout routine as he re-explains what he’s doing and why. He does some basic cardio and workout circuits before diving into some specific stunt performance prep and boxing.

It’s really odd overall though as it’s not really a funny video per se. Odenkirk seems quite serious about his workout routine and clearly looks to be enjoying it. You can see he’s quite a bit fitter too. Bernhardt mostly stands in the background and gives the occasionally “great Bob” to keep the man motivated. I’m just curious if he’s shown Odenkirk Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite yet or not…

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Dredd (2012): One of the Greatest Action Flicks of the 21st Century

Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is responsible for both convicting and punishing the criminals of Mega-City One.

Stallone’s legacy remains, but the 2012 Dredd is a rare follow-up that can equal its 90s original.

If you like movies that deliver non-stop action in the truest sense of the word, you may be surprised how few there are, especially when looking for films that made it to the big screen. I’ll be honest, movies that reduce plot, dialogues and drama to the absolute minimum, with their only ambition to put as much bloody mayhem as possible on the screen, are my favorite kind.

Some examples that perfected this style over the course of four decades of action movie history are Predator (1980s), Speed (1990s) and Crank (2000s). So every once in a while, we’re treated with a gem like these, and the 2010s were not the worst decade either with the John Wick Saga as another example, and of course Dredd.

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Karl Urban Does Judge Dredd

Dredd is the second film adaptation of the popular comic book series. The first one was Stallone’s Judge Dredd, a solid Sci-Fi actioner that managed to strikingly recreate the bizarre world of Megacity One in all its dystopic glory. It was not a full success, though, and its appeal to action fans may have been diminished by too much daft humor (Rob Schneider, nuff said) and out-of-place drama. In 2012 Judge Dredd returned, and Karl Urban took the helm from Stallone. Urban is a charismatic actor that almost always manages to impress in his roles, but never broke into the top tier of action movie actors so far. So it was great to see that he finally was offered the opportunity to take a lead role in a first-grade actioner.

We return to Megacity One, an urban nightmare with 800 million inhabitants, shielded by giant walls from a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The judges are the only force holding up public order. Judge Dredd and his trainee Anderson are called to investigate a murder in the giant apartment building Peach Trees, which is also the holdout of psychopathic drug lord Ma-Ma. She locks up the tower, and sends her gang to kill the two judges that are interfering with her business.

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Robocop Meets The Raid

As opposed to the first movie, Dredd drops almost all of the world-building, and takes place exclusively in a run-down skyscraper. The makers of Dredd were accused of plagiarizing the Indonesian action masterpiece The Raid: Redemption, that came out a few months earlier, and the premise and overall course of both movies are very similar indeed. By account of the Dredd production team, the script was in the making for several years, though. In any case, this question does not really matter, because both movies are so awesome that all can be forgiven.

More similarities can be found between Dredd and another action classic, Robocop. There are even rumors that the script for Robocop was originally intended for a Judge Dredd movie. Paul Verhoeven also admitted that the phrase “Come quietly, or there will be trouble” was taken from a Dredd comic. The movie returns the nod by having Dredd also utter that phrase, and even adding “You have 20 seconds to comply” as a reference to Robocop’s ED-209. Fun times for action movie nerds.

Dredd sketches a simple scenario that is exploited to the fullest. Two judges are locked up in a skyscraper housing a small army of cartel hitmen, with both parties armed to the teeth. Dredd is judge, jury and executioner (mostly executioner), and as soon as he enters the building, it’s judgment time. There’s no idle moments in Dredd, it’s one and a half hours of relentless chases and firefights in hallways and staircases.

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But, How Ultimate is it?

The presentation of the action scenes is pleasantly old-school for the most part. There’s no attempt to be fancy, it’s just shootouts, brawls and explosions with some heavy weapons such as mini-guns and napalm bombs added to the mix. Dredd is also one of the most brutal representatives of its kind, with a level of gory violence we’ve been rarely treated with on the big screen in action flicks since the 1980s.

Dredd is cynical and trigger-happy, and Urban plays him completely straight without any intended comic relief, and with an almost demonic voice. In doing so, he does go over the top a couple of times, and produces many memorable one-liners, usually right before or after someone gets killed (“The crime is life, the sentence is death!”). Lena Headey of Game of Thrones fame stays firmly in character as Dredd’s nemesis Ma-Ma, and instead of a wrathful and sadistic queen she takes the role of a wrathful and sadistic drug pusher.

Dredd is straightforward and perfect old-school mayhem. It is a bloody and uncompromising spectacle, and one of the great action flicks of the 21st Century.

Top 10 Action Movies for Kids (Ages 9 or Above)

The best action adventure flicks for kiddos aged 9 or above!

We return with another list for the best kids action movies. Our last article featured the most exciting films for the youngest action fans 6-8 years old. This time we’re looking at the masterpieces aimed at a slightly slightly older audience with ages 9-11.

For this age group there are plenty of PG-13 movies that could be recommended for children when watching them together with their parents, but we still make the cut at the PG-rating, as this leaves no ambiguity whether the movies on our list can be unconditionally approved for everyone.

Action-packed movies like Star Wars and Ghostbusters are not included, as we’re only looking for films that convey the vibe of to the pure and relentless action classics. The films we’re discussing in this article crank up the intensity of the action to the absolute maximum, while remaining harmless fun. So let’s start our countdown!

Top 10 Action Movies For Kids (Ages 8 or Below)

10) Masters of the Universe (1987)

Masters of the Universe has become a classic of the legendary Cannon studios, but is more considered a trashy cult flick these days rather than an accomplished action movie. In any case, it is a truly innocent and goofy production, and thus perfect entertainment for kids! While fighting the evil sorcerer Skeletor and his minions on their home planet Eternia, He-Man and his companions accidentally teleport to present-day Earth. They try to find a way back home, but also need to keep battling Skeletor who found a way to come after them. Masters of the Universe has a fluffy look, colorful costumes, and cheesy humor, so spiritually it’s very much in line with the TV cartoon series it’s based on.

Lets skip talking about the quality of the plot and acting for the sake of staying polite, where the movie delivers instead is on the action front. But while we get many shootouts, brawls, and explosions, there’s rarely anything worth remembering, and this lack of originality is what prevents Masters of the Universe from becoming a truly great film. It’s all entertaining enough to warrant inclusion in our list, and a great example if you want to let your kids experience the vibe of an old-school action movie.

9) Suburban Commando (1991)

Hulk Hogan, like other wrestlers before and after him, used his popularity to embark on a film career after leaving the wrestling arena. His success as a movie actor was limited, though, and he ended up doing mostly C-grade action movies and some terrible comedies. A positive exception is his second movie Suburban Commando. Space hero Shep Ramsay takes a vacation on earth after his last stressful mission, and moves in as a subtenant with the neurotic architect Charlie and his family. While navigating through the daily madness of Suburbia, he also needs to deal with two cosmic bounty hunters coming after him.

Suburban Commando takes a standard comedy template and adds plenty of slapstick action to the mix. Sheps well-meaning attitude combined with his ignorance of the local customs usually are the frequent cause of (harmless) violence and/or destruction. Corny jokes are abundant, such as Shep drinking anti-freeze to counter the effects of a high-tech freeze gun, or “helping” a pantomime who seems to be trapped inside a force field. The film is a quite mellow affair, and Hogan radiates a relaxed vibe in his role. All in all we get a nice package of cheesy action-comedy with the Hulkster in one of his best movies.

8) Sky High (2005)

Surviving high school can be hard, and who wouldn’t wish to have superpowers to ease their way through this minefield for adolescents. If everyone at your school has superpowers, the playing field is leveled again, though, and things can get even more troublesome. Will’s parents are both superheros, and have high expectations for him as their successor. He joins Sky High, a high school for superheroes, but his superpowers are nowhere to be seen. To make things worse, an unknown menace is plotting the demise of all superheroes, old and young alike.

The first X-Men movie trilogy included superhero education and training in its story, but that school was not really a fun place, if you ask me. Sky High is a very different beast, a light-hearted comedy that pokes a lot of fun at the uncountable number of superheroes existing in popular culture these days. Sky High even has “loser” class for kids with useless superpowers such as being able to turn into a puddle of slime, or glowing faintly in the dark. And kids running high on hormones, who also need to learn how to control their powers, is the cause of plenty explosive fights and demolitions. As with almost all Disney live-action movies, there are no rough edges, we’ve seen it all before, but Sky High is still a fun watch for the whole family with plenty of hilarious action sequences.

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7) Sidekicks (1992)

if you think The Karate Kid needed to have more action and more Chuck Norris, Sidekicks comes to the rescue! Directed by Chuck’s brother Aaron, the movie is a real family affair. Barry has a somewhat troubled life, and regularly drifts off into day dreams, where he finds himself as the sidekick to Chuck Norris in various action movie settings. He gets trained in Karate by Chinese restaurant owner Mr. Lee, and prepares for an upcoming karate tournament. Even more than the original Karate Kid, the plot of Sidekicks is like a fantasy movie, with Barry undergoing an almost magical transformation from frail asthmatic to unstoppable martial arts master.

The film oscillates between goofy comedy and kitschy drama, but the action scenes are all fun to watch with their parodies of classic action tropes, among them an appearance of Lone Wolf McQuade himself! The Norris brothers also show that they know their movies, and manage to put in a terrific homage to the classic Spaghetti Western My Name is Nobody. From the rest of the cast, Joe Piscopo sticks out as bullying and testosterone-inebriated martial arts teacher who has a proper beating by Chuck coming at him big time. Sidekicks is a slightly weird and uneven action comedy, but in any case one of the better Karate Kid ripoffs, and shows us that Chuck Norris is absolutely able to poke fun at himself.

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6) Eliminators (1986)

The cyborg Mandroid escapes from his evil creator Reeves who wants to dispose of him. Reeves is up to more sinister stuff, so the Mandroid goes after him and assembles an unlikely team that includes a scientist, a ninja and a mercenary. Eliminators seems to be like every kid’s and B-movie fan’s dream with a cyborg, a ninja, cannibals, and a whole bunch of Sci-Fi nonsense all in the same movie! While this almost sounds like the ingredients for a contemporary parody on the genre, Eliminators can actually claim to be one of the first movies to plunder the repository of modern B-movies and throw them all together into a fairly chaotic mix.

The script has a logic that really only a child would find satisfactory, and the overarching plot is fairly bonkers, too. There’s rarely a dull moment, though, either we’re treated with cheesy dialogues or cheesy action. Eliminators never descends into trash territory, however, the special effects and action sequences are not embarrassing, and the overall production quality is quite okay. And the Mandroid himself is certainly the most gentle and polite cyborg in all of movie history. Eliminators is upbeat and silly, and is a nostalgic throwback into kid-friendly 1980s action movie madness.

5) Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

A long time before Firefly and The Mandalorian came along, a great Space Action Western was made in 1983. Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone can be considered a spiritual predecessor to other goofy Sci-Fi comedy classics such as The Ice Pirates and Buckaroo Banzai that came out shortly after. Unlike its peers, Spacehunter puts all its focus on the action, but features just as much campy humor. Three women are the only survivors of a spaceship explosion, and their escape pod crashes on a desolate planet. The women are abducted by the minions of the evil cyborg Overdog, and it is up to Mercenary Wolff to rescue them.

The film really is just a sequence of action-packed sets, as Wolff and his companions traverse a contaminated wasteland inhabited by violent mutants and other dangers. Spacehunter has a serious Mad Max feel to it with its desolate setting and multitude of eccentric giant vehicles. There’s dirt and filth everywhere, and monsters lurking around every corner. It’s all harmless fun, though, with plenty of comic relief and silly jokes. An almost unrecognizable Michael Ironside leads the bad guy team in one of his early villain roles as ugly cyborg tyrant with two enormous creepy claws. Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone is tons of fun, and one of the few movies with a post-apocalyptic vibe that can be recommended for kids.

4) The Rocketeer (1991)

In 1990, Disney’s Dick Tracy started a short-lived streak of colorful movies inspired by pulp and superhero comics from the 1930s and 1940s. Films like The Phantom and The Shadow were pretty awesome, but another Disney production, The Rocketeer stands out as far as easygoing action-packed entertainment for kids is concerned. A secret prototype for a jetpack falls into the hands of stunt pilot Cliff. He becomes The Rocketeer, a show attraction, but soon needs to put his new gadget to use to fend off a conspiracy involving mafia mobsters and Nazi spies. The whole setup is pretty awesome, and there’s enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

The movie is a big spectacle with a cheerful vibe, and we get a load of awesome action sequences. There’s oldtimer car chases, propeller plane stunts and crashes, and a showdown on, in and around a Nazi Zeppelin. The cast includes Bill Campbell, Alan Arkin and ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton, and they all contribute a lot to the fun with a perfect balance of portraying believable characters and just the right amount of campiness. The Rocketeer is an action-adventure with a lot of heart, and makes for perfect family entertainment.

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3) Tron (1982)

Welcome to the world of Tron, the mystical realm of a computer circuit board inhabited by good and evil programs. Ex-Encom programmer Kevin breaks into the building of his former employer to collect evidence that some code of his was stolen by a former colleague. He gets caught by the Master Control Program, an artificial intelligence, and is digitized into a computer program. Trapped inside the Encom network, he needs to fight for his survival in a deadly tournament. Tron cleverly picked up on the arcade hype and advent of home computers that for many people still were an new and exciting world at the time.

The film is not a sophisticated Sci-Fi thriller, but a pure popcorn action movie, a spectacle from the first minute in a unique and captivating setting. The digital world is just a playground for Flynn to race, shoot and punch his way towards an escape from the evil AI. The visual effects were revolutionary at the time, and even today are still strangely captivating.  Jeff Bridges in one of his many great roles plays Flynn, a charming smart-ass who is constantly on the brink of getting “derezzed”, but always finds the time to crack a joke. Tron is an absolute 1980s classic, and should be a great time for really everyone who loves action movies.

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2) Speed Racer (2008)

Speed Racer. The name of the movie. The name of the main character. The name of a comic book. Made by the Wachowskis. Better than The Matrix. Better cars. Better jokes. Better colors. Color explosions. Car explosions. Car stunts. Car weapons. Cars bouncing around like ping-pong balls. Car insanity. Insane special effects. Insane costumes. Insane race tracks. Insanity and genius. Ingenious cinematography and editing. Speed Racer, the best race driver who ever lived. Speed Racer competing against psychopathic opponents. Speed Racer fighting against evil corporations. So many awesome villains. So many terrible suits and ties. So many German accents. John Goodman wrestling ninjas. John Goodman wrestling mafia mobsters. John Goodman, the head of the Racer family. A family with a monkey. A great family. A great family movie. A perfect movie. Speed Racer.

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1) The Karate Kid (1984)

Maybe the most famous action movie for young audiences ever, The Karate Kid is as great as it can get. It tells the story of uprooted teenager Daniel who tries to find his way in a new city. He falls in love with a girl, gets bullied by the members of the nasty Cobra Kai Karate school, and befriends the old Mr. Miyagi, who trains him to become a martial arts master. A perfect balance of action, comedy and drama, The Karate Kid tells a simple tale with an incredible amount of positive energy.

Daniel and Miyagi make a perfect team, a wise-ass teenager and an odd-ball caretaker. Both are struggling with their life, and learn to help and care for each other. Featuring one of the greatest finishes you’ll ever see, the big karate tournament even relegates the showdown of Rocky IV to second place. The Karate Kid is a movie every action movie fan young or old will be able to appreciate, I believe, and if you’re in the mood for a full load of 1980s action cinema to watch with your kids, The Karate Kid is the go-to movie No. 1.

Will We Ever See a Roundhouse? UAMC Reviews ‘Walker’ Episode 3

Walker -- “Bobble Head” -- Image Number: WLK103a_0424r -- Pictured (L-R): Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker and Matthew Barr as Hoyt -- Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The answer is a hard Chuck Norris-approved “No” it seems.

After watching and reviewing the first two episodes so far of the Walker, Texas Ranger reboot – which, again, is just called Walker, is on the CW and does NOT include Chuck Norris – I’ve finally done a little more research. Firstly, the show is apparently a hit. It’s first two episodes both drew over 2 million views (either on TV or same day streams). Which is a lot of people for a CW program. As such, it’s already been picked up for a second season.

Secondly, star/executive producer Jared Padalecki also apparently sought out – and received – Chuck Norris’ blessing (watch the video below). So, try as I might to take this show down from the outside. I’m resigning myself to defeat. Walker will be a program on television, possibly for multiple seasons. And a whole new generation will grow up thinking tall, drunk Padalecki is Cordell Walker and Chuck Norris’ portrayal will soon slip from memory.

So, in defeat, I only have one request. Can Walker please at least do one goddamn roundhouse!?

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Chuck Norris Approved?

 

As you can see in the clip above from Good Morning America, Padalecki claims that he received the blessing of the great Chuck Norris to reboot Walker, Texas Ranger. As far as how in-depth this conversation was, or if anything concrete about the show was discussed, it remains unclear. Here are some questions that arise:

  • Was Chuck Norris aware that this would be on the CW?
  • Did he know the setting was going to be moved to Austin?
  • Were any of the character changes discussed?
  • Did Jared tell Chuck that Walker’s dad would be bald and named Bonham?
  • Was Chuck told that the new Walker would never roundhouse anyone… ever?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that probably not. While I’d imagine that Chuck is quite proud of Walker, Texas Ranger and the success it brought to him and his family, I’d be willing to guess that he probably didn’t want to be bothered with the particulars of how the show might be rebooted or reimagined.

This little interview does say quite a bit though about how Padalecki appears to think of Chuck and the original program. To the GMA hosts it sounds like a bit of a joke to even reach out to Chuck, and while Padalecki isn’t going that far, it also doesn’t quite sound like he was a big fan of the original show or anything.

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Not Your Parent’s Walker Texas Ranger

It’s interesting to me just how much of a divide has developed between the audiences of these two shows though. If I’m being honest, the original Walker, Texas Ranger really always felt like it was targeted at the baby boomer 55+ demographic and I’d imagine skewed towards people who don’t live in Texas or the south. The way it treated much of its characters and plot were very “this is how it’s done in Texas, isn’t that funny” a bit.

The secondary audience for Walker, Texas Ranger of course, was the kids of the baby boomers who experienced Walker through reruns, Conan O’Brien’s Walker, Texas Ranger lever and Chuck Norris jokes. However, for many of us fit into this catagory, we also generally really loved the show. It’s a perfect mix of outlandish stories and even more over-the-top action sequences which, I dare say, were some of the most ultimate in television history.

In contrast, this new show seems to be aiming clearly at teenagers and the rest of the usual CW audience. The focus is on melodramatics and coming-of-age narratives so far.

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Walker is Less of a Jerk, I guess

So, here we are now. Episode 3 of the new Walker and it looks like this is what we’re going to get. Sappy romance between Padalecki and his real wife / fictional dead wife, Seventh Heaven family drama (x2 because we have kids and grandparents involved), and very little fighting or action.

Walker is also apparently a Texas Rangers fan. Which is funny, because – you know – Texas Rangers. Also weird because they’re no longer in Dallas/Ft. Worth, they’re in Austin, which is closer to Houston so he could have been an Astros fan too. But whatever.

Walker drinks less in this episode. He does a little bit more Ranger-work. He also has a comedic relief “adopted” brother named Hoyt Rawlins (played by Matt Barr, best known for the Hatfields & McCoys and other CW shows). Ranger Ramirez’s character is developed a bit more. Walker’s kids get into more trouble. And everything works out nicely in the end. 

But… no roundhouses. A quick shootout. But, nope. Not a single kick. Sigh.

5 Reasons Why ‘Band of Brothers’ is Still Ultimately Brilliant

Looking back at the acclaimed war series now 20 years later…

Phenomenally put together and necessarily graphic, Band of Brothers is one of the highest rated TV shows of all time for a reason.

For those who don’t know, Band of Brothers is an HBO miniseries based on the book Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose, which itself is based on the real-life events of US soldiers in World War 2.

It’s coming up to its 20-year anniversary and it still holds up. Here are five reasons why Band of Brothers is still brilliant:

1) The Acting

The acting in the show is phenomenal. The main cast were so well cast, especially when you compare them to the real people they’re portraying from the opening conversations. It’s almost too good from some of the actors, to the point that you can almost tell who survives based on the opening conversations and the actors who portraying them. One particular one comes to mind, where I was thinking that actor couldn’t be playing anyone other than that guy.

All of the acting is excellent, even if it is difficult to take Ross from Friends seriously. Although, him being in it and constantly yelling, “EASY COMPANY” adds to the fun if anything. Damien Lewis (Dick Winters), Ron Livingston (Lewis Nixon) and Neal McDonough (Buck Compton) all give career-high performances.

As well as the main cast, we have the Easter Egg of spotting smaller background characters who were played by younger actors  at the time who just so happen to be some of the biggest actors working today, e.g. Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jimmy Fallon for some reason.

2) Props and Sets

Now that we’ve given the actors props it’s time to talk about the props themselves. And the sets.

The set design in Band of Brothers is so well done that I genuinely didn’t know whether it was filmed on location or all in the same place. It would have made no sense, economically, for them to go to each country just to shoot on a set, yet for some reason, I thought they did. That’s either a sign that the replica sets they used were incredibly detailed and authentic or that I’m a bit of an idiot. To be clear, it was a mix. Many of the episodes were shot in the UK, while the scenes in Germany and Austria were shot in Switzerland.

Despite shooting many of the episodes on sets in the UK, they manage to create a unique, specific feel for each location. The scenes set in France feel French and the scenes set in the Netherlands feel Dutch. It’s not just generic Europe for each set. It’s also not just a signpost and flag that differentiates the sets, it’s the attention to detail of the buildings, the walls, and everything in between. It really adds to the immersion.

As I said, the ending in Austria was shot in Switzerland, which you can sort of tell, because not even Disney’s new virtual set can make the UK look like that.

3) Unbiased Portrayal

What the Nazis and Japanese did in World War 2 was so atrocious that it’s not difficult to spot the good guys from the bad guys. Throughout other wars in history, it can be more difficult to do this. And the problem is: life is a little less black and white than that. It’s very easy for filmmakers to turn the Nazis into caricatures of evil (which, to be fair, many of them were) and some of the best movies ever made have done that e.g., Schindler’s List and Come and See.

And it’s one of those things that I wouldn’t argue with. However, it’s refreshing to see them not go down that road here. And at no stage do they suggest what the Nazis did wasn’t horrific, they don’t suggest that they were good by any means, but it makes the case that many of these soldiers were just that – soldiers. Some didn’t even know what it was they were fighting for. Many were simply fighting for each other, the same as Easy Company.

That’s why the comparison between Easy Company and the German soldiers near the end is such an important scene. It’s also worth appreciating that it doesn’t shy away from what the Allies did. It shows US soldiers executing prisoners of war. It shows the Dutch shaving the heads of the women who were with the Nazis. It doesn’t try to make them out as caricatures of good guys.

Too often war films will have a cheesy added part where the Allies soldier is about to execute a POW, but then another soldier puts his hand on their shoulder and says, “No, don’t do it. We are not them.” And then they salute each other, while the American National Anthem plays over the credits. And I appreciate that there isn’t too much of that nonsense.

4) The Action

The shaky camera in the middle of the action adds a documentary style that makes the action feel more real. It’s brutal, bloody, and uncertain. Again, it’s historically accurate. From the sounds of gunfire and bombs to the tactics, the combat scenes were made to seem as real-to-life as possible. They did this by flying over World War 2 veterans to advise on the tactics, the weaponry used, and the combat scenes.

Nobody lifts a dead soldier up with one hand and runs across an open battlefield with him Rambo style (Hacksaw Ridge). The American soldiers don’t all die in slow motion to piano music while their enemies are destroyed and blown away (Black Hawk Down). Maybe the bar is low for authentic war combat, but Band of Brothers does an excellent job capturing it.

And just think about the scale of the combat scenes for a TV series. With a budget of 125 million, they certainly didn’t hold back. And this was before the era of Game of Thrones, when TV shows started getting huge budgets. They used more pyrotechnics in the opening three episodes than they did in all of Saving Private Ryan. And sure, we’re comparing three hours of TV to two hours fifty of film, but keep in mind the first episode of Band of Brothers is not exactly explosive.

5) The Toll of War

Any decent war movie centres around a pretty obvious idea – war is bad. The idea is usually to show the toll it takes on the people involved, that is, the soldiers, the civilians, and just about anyone in the area. Some films do it by having a character look into the camera and say, “War is hell.” Others show it through the deterioration of the characters physical appearance, e.g. Come and See. There’s a nice mixture of this in Band of Brothers.

Episode 7, aptly titled The Breaking Point, Is probably the best example of it in the series. This is where we see the characters – with whom we’ve spent 6 hours with at this stage and have grown to care for – begin to really feel the effects of the war. The loss of friends, limbs, and hope becomes more widespread. It is perhaps best shown through Buck, who becomes a shell of himself by the end.

It adds to it having the real people speaking at the beginning of each episode, reminding us that these are real people and that the effects of what they went through live with them right until the end. It’s an honest showcase of friendship and brotherhood within the army, but it is far from a glorification.

This is where it benefits from being a mini-series, because it is much harder to create this relationship between the viewer and the characters in a single film. Not impossible, but a lot more difficult.

To summarise, as far as I’m concerned, Band of Brothers still lives up to the hype. Is it the best TV series ever made? That’s up for debate. But it’s certainly up there with the best of them.

Author Bio: Seán is an Irishman with a love for movies of all genres and styles. He first fell in love with movies after seeing 2014’s Interstellar but grew to truly appreciate them when he first watched 1957’s 12 Angry Men. Despite attempts from Woody Allen movies to make him hate cinema, his enjoyment for movies lives on. In 2018 Seán co-wrote the book Clownbound: Take Me to the Circuits before co-writing The Absolutely USELESS Guide series in 2019. Now, for some reason or another, he’s here to give his opinion on all things movie related. Follow him on Letterboxd.

Everything Wrong with ‘Walker – Episode 2: Back in the Saddle’

Following up its pilot EP, the Chuck Norris-less CW reboot fails to get “back into the saddle.”

What a dumb show. I’m not going to call Walker bad just yet, because I’m not really sure what it’s actually trying to accomplish. Nor am I sure if it’s getting good ratings or being well received by critics – but nothing about this show appears to be aimed towards classic Chuck Norris and Walker, Texas Rangers fans – and it’s all just so… dumb.

For those who have ventured to watch it, or the many others who probably didn’t (nay shouldn’t) watch it. Here’s everything that’s wrong with Episode 2 “Back in the Saddle”.

UAMC Reviews: The First Episode of the ‘Walker’ Reboot (without Chuck Norris)

Again, No Chuck Norris

I’m not going to let this die! I don’t understand why this show is even called “Walker” and not just like… “Texas Detective” or “Drunk Dad Guy” or “Supernatural Cowboy”. As far as narrative points that this reboot shares with the original source material the only similarities is that there’s a main character named “Walker” and he’s a Texas Ranger.

Which, again, is fine. I’ve never watched Supernatural or currently any other program on the CW but I’m sure the shows are all fine and have a large audience and it’s all well and good. So why even bother making this a reboot / spinoff at all? So far two episodes in this is clearly a show not targeted at all for anyone who has ever watched a Chuck Norris movie or a single episode of Walker, Texas Ranger ever.

It’s also quite apparent that Chuck Norris is not going to be making a cameo anytime soon. Also it is very doubtful that any other actor, character or plot point from the original will pop up either. Instead, we have Jared Padalecki, his dad Bonham and a whole new, different and much younger family of characters who might have well wandered out of a Seventh Heaven remake for all I’d know.

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Jared Padalecki is a Jerk

My guess from episode two now is that Walker is really working hard to develop a redemption narrative for our young Cordell (of no relation to his namesake) Walker. I hope so because this dude sucks. As episode one suggested, ep 2 has slammed home the fact that Walker must be absolutely hammered in every scene. Which, apparently, is not only cool but also totally fine with every other character in the show including his family and fellow law enforcement officers.

But again, even while glossing over the more criminal implications, they’re most probably building up a major breakthrough from sad/drunk Walker to triumphant hero. Still, right now we have some great plot develops which include Walker skipping his daughter’s soccer game to slam some at the bar, and the reveal that Walker’s brother is gay – only for Walker to immediately try to fight him in the next scene.

It’s certainly a far fall from the noble heights of Chuck Norris’ portrayal. And honestly, I don’t think Chuck could play a deadbeat drunk dad even if he wanted to – he was just that kind of action star. I’m still not sure what Padalecki is if not just simply a tall guy who’s good at making faces (loooooots of close ups in this show).

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The Worst Action I’ve Ever Seen

Which brings us to the biggest point as to why this show is not looking to be good. The action is somehow both atrocious and non-existent at the same time. Unlike the pilot which generously had two action sequences mixed in, episode two only has one – and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the hell even happened or why.

In small moments between being a crappy parent and crying to himself over housewarming gifts, Walker very occasionally does some Ranger work. In this case, a ranch owner has (I guess?) burned down a neighbor’s ranch to steal a horse. But, instead of stealing the horse, he accidentally sets it free in downtown Austin where NOBODY seems to care at all and Walker has to coo it out of a park tunnel.

Walker’s Ranger gang then suddenly give chase to a fleeing evil rancher on an airstrip where Walker (in the matter of maybe two or three shots), shows up on said horse, jumps into a movie car and punches a guy. No explosions, one gunshot, and absolutely no roundhouses! Overall the scene is a mess and I’d really rather they wouldn’t even try it next time – just have a character explain what happened in the next scene and save everyone the awkwardness.

We’ll see if episode three gets anything better going, but my guess is that we’re going to spend a lot more time with a drunk Walker further messing things up with his family by being a dolt. Then, maybe we’ll get another half-assed fight thrown in – IF WE’RE LUCKY!

Remembering Timur Bekmambetov’s ‘Night Watch’ and ‘Day Watch’ Classics

Ultimate action/horror/fantasy combine!

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian film industry gradually recovered, and in 2004 the modern Russian action movie was born with the release of Timur Bekmambetov’s Night Watch. Since then, several high quality genre productions have been created which also left their mark outside of Russia. We’ll probably have a look at more of them in the future, but in this article, we’ll take a dive into the crazy world of Night Watch and its successor Day Watch.

Night Watch and Day Watch are based on novels by Sergei Lukyanenko, and their premise is simple enough. The world is inhabited by beings with supernatural abilities (the Others), who live unbeknownst among humans.  Two competing factions (the Light and the Dark) are co-existing bound by a fragile truce, and have instated agents that monitor each other’s activities. Anton is a clairvoyant on the side of the Light in the Night Watch. He discovers a prophecy about a powerful Other that is yet to be found, and whose allegiance to either side may shift the balance of power forever.

The overarching story may not sound that spectacular, and gives the impression of ripping off many epic Sci-Fi and Fantasy sagas that came before. But the movie is far from being a copycat cobbled together from genre cliches. Instead we’re treated with a complex and engaging plot, interesting characters, and a fascinating setting. There’s humor, tragedy, cruelty and kindness, sometimes all at the same time.

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Night Watch (2004)

The first ten minutes of Night Watch give us a proper impression of the things to come. Anton consults a witch to put a love spell on his ex-girlfriend. The visit does not go as planned, the apartment gets attacked by some agents of the Light (one of them being able to shape shift into a tiger) to take down the witch and her creepy spider doll. From that point on, we’re drawn into the gritty setting of winterly modern-day Moscow where sorcerers, vampires and demons lurk around every corner.

The story is told through the eyes of many different characters, Dark and Light alike, as we’re following their struggles to deal with the circumstances they’re thrown in. And the alleged Russian fatalist attitude versus the hardships and tragedies of life is quite noticeable throughout the movie. The plot is captivating, the story is told with good timing, and almost all characters are all strangely likable. A great ensemble cast is led by Russian star actor Konstantin Khabenskiy in the role of Anton, and everyone gives a sincere and believable performance.

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Day Watch (2006)

When Night Watch became a commercial success, Bekmambetov got the opportunity to make the sequel Day Watch in 2006. The end of the first movie provided plenty of plot threads to be picked up in a sequel. The truce between the Light and the Dark is on the verge of breaking, and with things going south hard for almost everyone, Anton sets out to find the legendary Chalk of Fate, a magical artifact that allows its bearer to rewrite the past. Night Watch laid the groundwork for the setting and its characters. This permitted Day Watch to increase the action density, and resulted in some spectacular escapades.

Bekmambetov’s direction is perfect, and he structures the movies in a way that despite all the seemingly chaotic things happening, they never get messy. I think it’s not exaggerated to say that he also created a unique visual style for the film. Many sequences look like a mix of a surreal dream and an acid-trip, even the action scenes. Shot from all sorts of wacky angles and edited masterfully, it’s obvious that an incredible amount of energy and creativity went into the production.  And unlike with many Hollywood movies of the time, the CGI effects fit perfectly into the setting, and are just as gritty and crazy as everything else.

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But, How Ultimate are they?

The action scenes are usually brief and intense, and there’s a lot of them. Supernatural beings going against each other in an urban environment results in plenty of mayhem, such as a car driving up a skyscraper, magically supercharged elevators going through rooftops, and the Dark’s leader Zavulon using train power cables as whips to demolish a row of parked vehicles. And the big finale of Day Watch is just all-out insanity.

Present-day genre cinema can still be great occasionally. One way to achieve this is when familiar tropes are shuffled together in a way that something completely new seems to emerge. Night Watch and Day Watch excel at this and create the ultimate action/horror/fantasy mix. Rarely we come across a movie these days that is visually striking, has tons of action, a captivating plot, and great characters. Night Watch and Day Watch have it all.

Haymaker: A Love, Drama and Action Debut by Nick Sasso

Not an action banger, but a surprisingly solid flick with some muay thai action thrown in!

Haymaker is the story of retired muay thai fighter Nick (Nick Sasso), who, while working as a bouncer at a nightclub, stops the assault of singer Nomi (Nomi Ruiz), and in the process, becomes her bodyguard of sorts. And as they travel around the world together, they begin to fall for each other. But Nick’s fighting spirit continues to haunt him, and he must decide what he truly wants from life.

Haymaker was a damn fine surprise of a movie. The work of debuting Actor/Writer/Producer/Director Stasso, I thoroughly enjoyed it from top to bottom.

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Stasso as Nick is a well thought out character and he conveys all the right emotions authentically. Maybe too authentically at times. During the first half of the movie, as he’s being whisked around by Nomi, Nick is sort of blank on emotions, and I was beginning to think that Stasso was devoid of energy or charisma in the acting department. But as the movie went along, he kicked things up a notch, becoming more open and emotional, just as the character did. And I was like “Ohhhh, you were doing a thing.” I dug it.

Not to be outdone is Nomi Ruiz in the role of Nomi. A transwoman in the movie as well as real life, Nomi is a firecracker of an actress, hitting all the right emotional beats that pull at the heartstrings quite a bit. Very impressive stuff.

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Progressive Plot and Action

Also, I just wanted to put this out there, the scene where it’s revealed she’s trans is great. Great in that it’s mentioned, then dropped just as fast. They spend about less than 15 seconds on the subject before moving on. I think that’s great, and I wish the rest of the world was as progressive.

Old favorites D.B. Sweeney, Udo Kier, and Zoe Bell show up in small roles throughout the film, although Sweeney is actually more of a supporting role, while Bell and Kier can be counted as cameos. Especially Kier. But they all do great with the time and material they’re given to work with, and that’s perfectly fine.

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But, How Ultimate is it?

The story is more of a drama than a through and through action film, so if you’re looking for wall to wall fights, you’re going to be disappointed. The fighting is well done though. Stasso is a fine action performer, and comes off rather well during the fight scenes. I just wish there was a little bit more of him throwing down.

But you want to know something? I wasn’t disappointed. I was thoroughly captivated by the drama of these two people, at the crossroads of their lives, finding each other and giving each other the strength to become who they truly want. Just a simple love story with good characters and a little bit of butt kicking added for good measure. And that’s perfectly fine with me.

UAMC Reviews: The First Episode of the ‘Walker’ Reboot (without Chuck Norris)

Chuck Norris nor the world of Walker, Texas Ranger is nowhere to be found in the CW reboot to the action franchise.

Well, after initial reports surfaced which might have seemed to have come from the pages of the Texas Travesty (the University of Texas’ satirical student paper) about a Walker, Texas Ranger reboot starring a CW starlet and set in modern day Austin, Texas, the day of reckoning is finally here.

And, while we’ll have to wait to see how many of our “19 Likely Plot Points for the Walker, Texas Ranger Reboot” indeed do make it into the show (you could argue that several already have), it’s now time for us to report our first thoughts on this first pilot episode of the new reimagining of Walker.

19 Likely Plot Points for the ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ Reboot

Walker is Younger, Drunker, Taller and Clueless

Let’s start with Mr. Cordell Walker himself. Not Chuck Norris mind you, but now a 6’4” Jared Padalecki who appears to be in his mid-to-late 30s, has two teenage children, two spry and doting parents, a kid brother and a murdered wife. Also, Walker apparently has a killer drinking problem. My how the Walker name has fallen.

Honestly though, Padalecki isn’t necessarily a bad actor. And as much as I didn’t want to like him to begin with just because he’s taking on the Walker name so seemingly haphazardly, he’s just fine. However, the character so far appears to be a mess.

The setup is quick, but in an opening scene he’s asked by his wife to bother spending time with his parents and kids while she goes out on a (dangerous I guess) errand. She leaves, Walker gets a call as she gets murdered, then apparently young Walker walks out the door and goes on a 3-to-11 month bender / secret mission?

Regardless, Walker returns after nearly a year and is trying to pick up the broken pieces of his loving family – who, despite him being gone, are quite nicely arranged to take care of him. It’s hard to say what this Walker is all about as he seems to struggle with taking both his family and career seriously.

Instead of a fierce half-native american lawman with a resolute constitution and a killer roundhouse, this new Walker really appears to wander through scenes clueless (struck with grief I guess?) as to what he’s doing there. Maybe, as is reportedly the case with Padalecki  and some recent run-ins with the actual law in his hometown of Austin, he’s just drunk – I honestly don’t know.

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Chuck Norris is Nowhere to be Found

Still, as it should, the ghost of Chuck Norris’ portrayal of the original Cordell Walker remains strong. There’s a scene early on where the young Cordell gets some sagely advice from his father “Bonham” Walker (played by Mitch Pileggi) that just seems like it would have been perfect for Chuck Norris to play. You know, passing the torch, being there each episode to provide some wisdom from their Native American heritage, but nope. Just Bonham appearing as another minor (and notably much shorter) character in Walker’s listless life.

There’s also not really much action in this pilot episode to speak of. I know this is a CW program and not a “big budget” production backed by CBS, but this version falls well short of its predecessor so far. There’s exactly two “action” sequences. One in which young Walker punches a bad guy (who reaaaaaally goes out of his way to insult the man for no reason), and an ending action sequence where Walker chases some dudes about 20 feet before knocking over some boxes to stop them.

I get it that this is going to be a show more about character drama and the target audience might be more inline with the CW’s pre-teen crowd. BUT, at least have Walker do ONE roundhouse! Dude is 6 foot 4, if he could land one you could easily make it seem like he’s kickin’ guys across the room with that height and power. Sigh, I just don’t get what they’re really trying to do here!

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From Dallas/Ft. Worth to Modern Day Austin

The original Walker, Texas Ranger ostensibly takes place in Dallas, Texas, but in reality is shot across the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex to make it appear as if Dallas is both a much smaller, classic Texas town, while also a big enough metropolis for major drug deals to routinely come through.

The reboot Walker makes the bold decision to move from DFW to Austin, where Padalecki and his wife and family reside in real life. Also, as a resident of Austin (and having grown up in Dallas) I can attest, it’s a much more different and modern town than where Walker, Texas Ranger took place.

So far, the show has attempted to quickly gloss over the setting with anything more than a few shots of South Congress mixed in with some remote locations which appear to be a few minutes out of town. However, they’re going to have to embrace the environment sooner or later. I’m still expecting a SXSW episode or now a cross-over cameo with a high-stakes poker game between Walker, Elon Musk and Joe Rogan – but we’ll see.

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Not Quite Sure What to Make of it Yet

Overall, I’m going to hold off on giving any hard reviews for this show yet. Pilot episodes are hard to do. (Unless you’re Chuck Norris and Walker, Texas Ranger of course as they produced an absolute banger of a 2-hour movie premiere!) But – as what is basically a Supernatural spinoff show on “The CW” which already has a tall task of reviving a franchise for a much younger generation who’s probably never seen the original – it’s understandably a rocky transition.

However, the crux of the show also appears to be about Walker and his family and kids. We’ll get some solid Ranger work thrown in, plus I like his partnership with his new partner Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan). However, the show is going to have to work fast to streamline all these characters and subplots up against a shakingly developed title character who might have a famous name – but so far has done nothing but get drunk, be a needy family member and look good in a cowboy hat.