Is The 'Good Omens' TV Adaptation Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Are Saying
YOUR ANGLE AND YUOR DEVIL

· Updated:

"Good Omens," starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen as Crowley and Aziraphale — a demon & angel duo attempting to halt the end times — this TV adaptation (out now on Amazon Prime) of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's novel has a stacked cast and the direct involvement of Gaiman behind it. Does it make the leap of faith to the screen?

At Its Core, 'Good Omens' Is All About Stopping Doomsday

Aziraphale and Crowley's unlikely friendship, formed over the 6,000 years that have elapsed in this version of Earth's history since Crowley got Eve to eat the apple, is the heart of the book and now the miniseries. Confronted with the news that the apocalypse is about to begin – and Crowley delivering the satanic baby that will kick it all off in 11 years into the care of the satanic nuns who will swap it with an ordinary newborn – they are horrified. Both have got too used to the comforts of Earth to want them destroyed.

[The Guardian]

The Antichrist – an 11-year-old boy – has been prophesied to trigger an all-consuming war between Heaven and Hell, but the angel and the demon agree that if they can track him down, they might be able to persuade him to delay the End of Days. They just have to make sure that no one from Heaven or Hell notices what they're doing.

[BBC]


That Said, It Has Wild Ideas And Side-Plots To Spare

Those who've read Gaiman and Pratchett's novel will know that the series is as lighthearted a telling of the end of days as such a story can get[…] The advantage this approach affords the series is one of free-wheeling silliness, a tale where anything can and (almost) does happen, and where, provided the viewer is along for the ride, nothing much matters because it was all just a fun little goof anyway.

[Screen Rant]

It's a confusing, feverish tale told via a collage of delightfully funny tidbits and an exasperating number of subplots, or are they the plot? Hard to tell.

[The LA Times]

Listen, this is a story that not only involves the modern-day appearance of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Pestilence is replace by Pollution), two of which are played by women and all of them on thundering motorcycles, but also the appearance of the Kracken and the rise of the Lost City of Atlantis. So if that's going to be a problem for you, maybe look elsewhere.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


The Filmmaking Is Out-There To Match

The cinematic sensibility is something like… I don't know, like if Terry Gilliam, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger all had a lovechild. There's Powell-and-Pressburgerish, deeply saturated, slightly hyperreal color and exquisitely weird visual imagery; there's Gilliam-saluting surreal, and sometimes hammy, oddball cheekiness side by side with an arrow-to-the-heart sort of emotional honesty.

[Paste]

It's a kind of storytelling so maximal that the same 57-minute episode can contain a tangential alien invasion and a physics lesson explaining how angels and demons can shrink and grow in size (featuring multiple Sheens dancing the gavotte and multiple Tennants getting down to disco).

[The Atlantic]


Tennant And Sheen Are At The Top Of Their Game

Together, it's like watching two musicians at the top of their game play a duet; they positively sing. In those moments, the vibrancy and energy of Gaiman and Pratchett's book shoots to the surface, and is even deepened and enriched by the artists interpreting it. When Gaiman and Mackinnon return to those actors, the series becomes the compelling story of an unlikely friendship, a sort of undefined rom-com between two immortals with the end of the world as a quirky backdrop. That's the "Good Omens" worth watching. The rest of it's not bad—not world-ending, but not exactly heavenly, either.

[RogerEbert.com]

Tennant and Sheen are fabulous together. They embody the deep affection and irritation of a long-term marriage while dancing atop the thrill of a forbidden, clandestine love affair.

[The LA Times]

Both Sheen and (a miraculously non-manic, given the potential of his part) David Tennant as the demon Crowley are wonderful[…] Their chemistry is a joy, even if the banter they are given is often stale or overegged.

[The Guardian]


The Rest Of The Amazing Cast Is Unfortunately Hamstrung By Characters Without Much Substance

As difficult as it is to imagine, Michael McKean's heavily accented witch-hunter becomes not just a one-note ninny, but a regular nuisance; Gaiman relies far too often on him, along with more mortals, to carry overly complicated exposition and run around with largely meaningless errands. (Related: Jon Hamm's wry Gabriel, a character not in the book, isn't given nearly enough to do.) Everything they do does connect with the angel and demon's main story, but more by force of will than symbiotic necessity.

[IndieWire]

Beneath the razzle-dazzle, every character apart from the main two is tissue-paper thin. This is particularly true of the female parts (Frances McDormand as the narrating voice of God aside), a historical weakness in the fantasy genre you might have expected Gaiman to take the opportunity to shore up. When both Crowley and Aziraphale are offscreen, things fall flat.

[The Guardian]

Even the Four Horsemen, whose actors include Mireille Enos and Brian Cox, can't live up to the hype that precedes them.

[The Atlantic]


The Story Could've Been Streamlined For The Sake Of Building Appropriately Apocalyptic Tension

The problem with a story that both wanders and is predicated on a ticking time bomb and race against the clock, is that to spend time on one can weaken the other. The plot moseys alone at a slow but steady pace, bursts of energy often undermined by the same action taking place again an episode or two later, or by filmmaking (from Douglas Mackinnon) more concerned with quirk than with questions.

[RogerEbert.com]

Let's face it, if a TV series can't imbue the imminent obliteration of everything and everyone on the planet with a sense of urgency, then it has to be doing something wrong. Animated signposts keep swinging onto the screen to tell us how many days and hours are left until doomsday, and yet Good Omens meanders along as if it had all the time in the world.

[BBC]

TL;DR

Tennant and Sheen are incredibly engaging, whether on screen together or not, and Hamm seems to be enjoying himself immensely. That level of energy is palpable, and helps mitigate the feeling that Good Omens, while being occasionally a good time, is mostly a mixed bag.

[Screen Rant]


Watch The Trailer

 

<p>Mathew Olson is an Associate Editor at Digg.</p>

Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


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