Brave New World

STREAMING REVIEW:

Peacock;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd, Kylie Bunbury, Nina Sosanya, Joseph Morgan, Sen Mitsuji, Hannah John-Kamen, Demi Moore.

Among the signature originals of NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service is this sexed-up, modernized adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian 1932 novel about a futuristic society that achieves the illusion of utopia through population control and psychological manipulation.

“Brave New World” the series takes place in a technologically advanced future society in which all children are genetically engineered, adults are drugged into happiness, people are ranked by the importance of their role in society, and all privacy and monogamy is prohibited.

One of the administrators, Bernard (Harry Lloyd) begins to question the system when one of the lower-ranking janitors commits suicide, and he begins having insecurities about fitting in. He befriends a lower-ranked genetic scientist, Lenina (Jessica Brown Findlay), whom he previously chastised for carrying on an exclusive sexual relationship with another high-ranking citizen, calling their actions selfish for refusing to share each other’s bodies with the rest of society.

They take a trip to the Savage Lands, an amusement park set up to re-create the way humanity used to live (essentially the show spoofing our current way of life). The less-sophisticated residents of the Savage Lands, however, don’t take kindly to being gawked at by the intellectual elite, and begin planning a violent revolution. Among them is John (Alden Ehrenreich), the propmaster who decides to spice up an enactment of a shotgun wedding by adding live ammunition.

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While story elements and characters are derived from the source material, the show itself with its ample nudity, graphic violence and slick production values comes across more like HBO’s “Westworld” but with actual people instead of robots, and less-convoluted plotting. The series had been in development since 2015 for the less-risqué Syfy network, another NBCUniversal subsidiary, so it’s easy to see why Peacock would poach it in an attempt to grab a piece of the “Westworld” and “Handmaid’s Tale” audiences.

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The first two episodes are available on Peacock’s free ad-supported level. For the remaining seven episodes, viewers must upgrade to one of Peacock’s paid plans.

Game Night

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Warner;
Comedy;
Box Office $68.85 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for language, sexual references and some violence.
Stars Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemons, Chelsea Peretti, Danny Huston, Michael C. Hall, Kyle Chandler.

The premise behind Game Night is simple yet solid: A group of friends gets together to play some board games, only to have the party interrupted by criminals, involving them in a caper they believe to be a more-elaborate game.

And sometimes, having an entertaining time with a movie doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. Think of it as David Fincher’s The Game mixed with the comedic sensibilities of The Hangover.

The premise allows room to build jokes around the quirks of the characters, which only feeds the comedic potential of the premise further. It helps that there are multiple levels of where the game might end and real danger might begin, which makes for some hilarious moments for the characters when they don’t realize where that line is but the audience does.

Game Night was co-directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, the team behind the 2015 Vacation remake, for which this is a bit of a step up, and co-writers of amiable fare such as the “Horrible Bosses” movies and Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The cast is charming and the script knows just how long to push a story point before it wears out its welcome, making this a great movie for a cozy evening in or a diverting re-watch with friends in a casual setting.

The Blu-ray includes an effective but short four-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and a funny seven-minute gag reel.