Photo credit Netflix

The duo behind Genre Equality puts out a monthly review of the best and worst each month — whether if it’s a new series on Netflix to binge, a film to catch in cinemas (if you use TraceTogether, that is), or a book to simply plug out from the outside noise.

While you can listen in to their latest episode for a full breakdown of their verdicts, scroll down to dig into what they’ve loved (and disliked) from the first month of 2021.

Follow Genre Equality on Facebook for more updates.



The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

TV/Marvel
Where to watch: Disney+

Both a fun buddy cop adventure and a complex exploration of the geopolitical realities of a post-Blip world, this series strikes a perfect balance between thoughtful and thrilling.

Whether dealing with radicalization stemming from a global refugee crisis, or interrogating whether a Black man could (or should) reconcile historical racial injustice with hope for the future to honour a symbol of America — TFATWS’ greatest strength is the potent commentary it weaves alongside superheroics.


Invincible

Season 1

TV/Skybound
Where to watch: Prime Video

Based on Robert Kirkman’s (other) acclaimed comic book, Invincible is a smart and subversive satire of the superhero coming-of-age genre. Combining the realism and violence of The Boys with the brightly-coloured optimism of Saturday morning cartoons, Invincible sucks you in with plenty of twists that you won’t see coming.


Infinity Train

Season 4

TV/Cartoon Network Studios
Where to watch: HBO Max (VPN required)

The fourth and final season of Owen Dennis’ imaginative and emotionally complex cartoon continues to be a wonderful treat. Set on an endless locomotive where each carriage contains a different universe, Infinity Train takes its passengers (and us) on a ride to help us deal with a variety of traumas and insecurities.


Shadow and Bone

Season 1

TV/21 Laps Entertainment
Where to watch: Netflix

Based on the Grishaverse novels, Shadow and Bone is a dense and immersive series that improves upon the source material in many ways — especially when it comes to adding depth and nuance to the book’s “chosen one” story. However, it does fall into a myriad of Netflix YA fantasy cliches at times.


For All Mankind

Season 2

TV/Sony Pictures Entertainment
Where to watch: Apple TV+

For All Mankind is a meticulously crafted alt-history that imagines what would happen if the Soviets landed the first man on the moon instead of America. While its first season was wildly ambitious, it was also uneven. This astonishing second season corrects nearly flaw to deliver an engrossing and enthralling vision of a very different Cold War in space.


Mortal Kombat

Film/New Line Cinema
Where to watch: Local cinemas

Mortal Kombat does justice to the game’s violent and gory legacy. But were the good fights enough to compensate for an utter dumpster fire of a movie? Only partly.


Yasuke

Season 1

TV/MAPPA
Where to watch: Netflix

Netflix’s anime about a Black samurai fighting mechs and magic in alt-reality feudal Japan is buoyed by sublime visuals and an incredible score from Flying Lotus. Unfortunately, it’s also dragged down by a highly derivative story.


Them

Season 1

TV/Sony Pictures Television
Where to watch: Amazon Prime

This 1950s tale of a Black family moving into a white suburban neighbourhood is harrowing. From the horrors of racists next door to supernatural entities indoors, Them does a good job of depicting the exhaustion of a Black family living in America.

However, its similarities to Lovecraft Country, alongside its exploitative violence that borders on degradation porn, hampered our enjoyment of this series.


Made For Love

Season 1

TV/Paramount Television Studios
Where to watch: HBO GO

A woman tries to escape her controlling tech mogul husband. Unfortunately, he’s implanted a tracking chip in her brain. This dramedy is sometimes a smart sci-fi nightmare deconstructing the intersection of romance and technology.

But most times, Made For Love is a narrative mess that frustrates viewers with its unnecessary non-chronological structure.


Thunder Force

Film/On the Day Productions
Where to watch: Netflix

Melissa McCarthy’s superhero comedy is undoubtedly the worst movie made in 2021. It’s unfunny, tedious, and feckless. Avoid at all costs.


The Handmaid’s Tale

Season 4

TV/MGM Television
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

This dystopian series has reached the point of diminishing returns. With nothing new left to say and Margaret Atwood’s cautionary allegory milked dry, The Handmaid’s Tale has become a repetitive slog of female torture and terrible decisions in its fourth season.


The Way of the Househusband

Season 1

TV/Nippon TV
Where to watch: Netflix

This adaptation of the popular manga about a yakuza boss who retires to become a domestic spouse is faithful to a fault. While it retains the charming humour, this is less of an anime and more of a cheap-looking PowerPoint motion comic.


The Nevers

Season 1

TV/Mutant Enemy Productions
Where to watch: HBO GO

Following the myriad of allegations made against Joss Whedon’s toxic behaviour, Hidzir is forced to reevaluate his fandom as he reviews Whedon’s tonally-awkward new show about superpowered women in Victorian England. Listen to the full episode to hear more.

Genre Equality podcast Hidzir Junaini Isa Foong Singapore Community Radio

The duo behind Genre Equality puts out a monthly review of the best and worst each month — whether if it’s a new series on Netflix to binge, a film to catch in cinemas (if you use TraceTogether, that is), or a book to simply plug out from the outside noise.

While you can listen in to their latest episode for a full breakdown of their verdicts, scroll down to dig into what they’ve loved (and disliked) from the first month of 2021.

Follow Genre Equality on Facebook for more updates.



Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Film/DC Films
Where to watch: HBO GO

The fabled #SnyderCut of Justice League delivers a four-hour epic that significantly improves upon Joss Whedon’s version. While a much stronger and more coherent film overall, your mileage may vary in this indulgent combination of the best (operatic grandeur) and worst (slow-mo, style-over-substance excess) of Snyder’s artistic vision.


Raya and the Last Dragon

Film/Disney
Where to watch: Local cinemas & Disney+ (additional fee required for Disney+ subscribers)

Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess leads this thrilling fantasy action-adventure. Buoyed by breathtaking fight sequences, stunning visuals, ambitious world-building, excellent humour, and a star-studded voice cast – Raya proves to be a fun, all-ages fable about the power of trust.


Dota: Dragon’s Blood

Season 1

TV/Studio Mir
Where to watch: Netflix

Dragon’s Blood is an exceptional adaptation of the DOTA 2 video game franchise that should delight fans and newbies alike. Featuring compelling characters, spectacularly violent action, beautiful animation, and emotional complexity on all sides – this stunning adult anime is a must-watch.


Godzilla vs. Kong

Film/Legendary Pictures
Where to watch: Local cinemas

This heavyweight monster battle is a jaw-dropping spectacle. However, the movie is severely hampered by bafflingly stupid human subplots that distract from what we came to see: two titans clobbering each other.


La Llorona

Film/La Casa de Producción & Les Films du Volcan
Where to watch: Shudder (requires VPN)

This sophisticated horror film blends together the terror of myth and reality in a modern retelling of the genocide against the Mayan community in Guatemala. Smart, elegant, and suspenseful, director Jayro Bustamante uses folkloric fears to unpack even greater political atrocities.


Come True

Film/Copperheart Entertainment
Where to watch: Amazon (VPN required)

Come True is helmed by the one-person filmmaking crew of Anthony Scott Burns, who wrote, directed, edited, and composed the 80s synth-wave soundtrack under the pseudonym Pilotpriest.

The indie film is a surreal, unsettling, and genuinely disturbing horror sci-fi. Filled with nightmarish sounds and imagery that trigger deep, primordial fears, this film is one for fans of minor-key arthouse horror.


Solar Opposites

Season 2

TV/Justin Roiland’s Solo Vanity Card Productions!
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland returns with the second season of his hilarious animated sci-fi comedy. This fresh spin on 3rd Rock From The Sun flies with a breakneck pace — it coasts on a witty mix of goofy absurdity and good-natured warmth.


Chaos Walking

Film/Lionsgate
Where to watch: Local cinemas

A loud and tedious dystopian mess that should be avoided at all costs. Stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley need to be more careful about the roles they pick.


Boss Level

Film/Highland Film Group
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

This fun time loop adventure is like the action hero version of Groundhog Day. Starring Frank Grillo (of Captain America: The Winter Soldier fame), Boss Level is a muscular popcorn movie with plenty of thrills and little brains.


The Irregulars

Season 1

TV/Drama Republic
Where to watch: Netflix

Take pretty much any established cultural touchstone — here, it’s Sherlock Holmes — add a group of teenagers, and you’ve got a TV show. To play it safe, inject the storylines with supernatural mumbo jumbo for color and special effects. Voila, a perfectly mediocre Netflix show to put on the background at dinner parties.


Pacific Rim: The Black

Season 1

TV/Legendary Television
Where to watch: Netflix

Clunky cell shading animation and shoddy character work hinder what could have been a fun mecha vs kaiju romp.


Snowpiercer

Season 2

TV/CJ Entertainment
Where to watch: Netflix

Aided by the addition of Sean Bean, season two proves Snowpiercer to be a perfectly watchable yet totally inessential show. We’d still recommend Bong Joon-ho’s film version instead.


House of Leaves

Book/Pantheon
Where to buy: Local bookstores

In light of the book’s 21st anniversary this year, Genre Equality explores House of Leaves, which originally released in March 2000.

House of Leaves is one of the most disorienting and creative novels ever written. Mark Z. Danielewski’s cult classic book is an incredibly complex work of existential horror that plays with a variety of formatting and writing styles. The result is a story that is both intellectually challenging and profoundly disturbing.

Genre Equality podcast Singapore Community Radio
Photo credit Disney+

The duo behind Genre Equality puts out a monthly review of the best and worst each month — whether if it’s a new series on Netflix to binge, a film to catch in cinemas (if you use TraceTogether, that is), or a book to simply plug out from the outside noise.

While you can listen in to their latest episode for a full breakdown of their verdicts, scroll down to dig into what they’ve loved (and disliked) from the first month of 2021.

Follow Genre Equality on Facebook for more updates.



WandaVision

Season 1

TV/Marvel Studios
Where to watch: Disney+

This wonderfully weird love letter to vintage sitcoms is easily the most daring and experimental thing the MCU has ever done. Formatting flourishes and the versatility of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany finds charmingly inventive ways to plumb Wanda’s traumatic history.


Saint Maud

Film/A24
Where to watch: The Projector

Rose Clarke’s directorial debut is the first great horror movie of 2021, and a great addition to A24’s arthouse horror canon. Led by fantastic performances from Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle, this character study of religious fervour vs. mental illness is deeply unsettling.


Little Fish

Film/IFC Films
Where to watch: Amazon Prime (VPN required)

This melancholy indie sci-fi romance focuses on a world plagued by a contagious Alzheimer’s-like epidemic. Little Fish is a dreamy and devastating film about the disintegration of relationships without reason or closure.


Space Sweepers

Film/Bidangil Pictures
Where to watch: Netflix

This South Korean space opera may look great, but its story is a derivative slog.


The Watch

Season 1

TV/BBC Studios
Where to watch: BBC America (US cable access required)

Fans of Terry Pratchett’s satirical-fantasy Discworld novels will be sorely disappointed by BBC America’s moronic mess of an adaptation.


Superman & Lois

Season 1

TV/DC Entertainment
Where to watch: Amazon Prime (VPN required)

The latest entry into the CW’s Arrowverse is a mixed bag — buoyed by the charisma of Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch, but dragged by clunky melodrama.


Earwig and the Witch

Film/Studio Ghibli
Where to watch: HBO Max (VPN required)

Studio Ghibli’s first-ever CG film is ironically flat and lifeless, lacking the sense of wonder and whimsy of its hand-drawn predecessors.


Tribes of Europa

Season 1

TV/W&B Television
Where to watch: Netflix

From the creators of Dark comes this German post-apocalyptic series that feels like a tired re-thread of a million other YA dystopian stories. Disappointing.


Attack on Titan

Season 4

TV/MAPPA
Where to watch: Netflix

The insanely popular anime finally sheds its perennial problem with poor pacing. Now with mysteries revealed and questions answered, Attack on Titan steadily progresses to the exciting and action-packed conclusion to the saga.


Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World

Season 2

TV/White Fox
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)
Season 1 available on Netflix

Subaru-kun is back for more crying, suffering, deaths, and resets in the second half of the franchise’s returning season.


That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Season 2

TV/White Fox
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)
Season 1 available on Netflix

Building upon a very well-received first season, overpowered slime lord Rimuru Tempest and his newly founded nation of monsters face threats from enemies new and old.

 


Dr. Stone

Season 2 (Stone Wars)

TV/TMS Entertainment
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)
Season 1 available on Netflix

Senkuu and his allies in The Kingdom of Science finish their preparations. Armed with a host of new science gizmos, they begin their preemptive attack on Tsukasa’s Empire.


Beastars

Season 2

TV/Orange
Where to watch: Netflix (scheduled for release in July)

Beaststars is back. The herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores at Cherryton Academy continue their tense coexistence while navigating their own complex emotions and interpersonal relationships.


Cells at Work!

Season 2

TV/David Production
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)
Season 1 available on Netflix

We continue the journey with our favorite hardworking Cells, including lessons that important cells can make mistakes, and not all bacteria are bad. Cells at Work! (stylized for season 2 as Cells at Work!!) continues to be one of the best educational animes that we’ve seen.


Cells at Work! Code Black

Season 1

TV/David Production
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)

Cells at Work! Code Black is a much darker, more mature spinoff of Cells at Work!, set in a human body that’s in constant turmoil from poor life choices — making this a very different but no less enjoyable viewing experience.


The Promised Neverland

Season 2

TV/CloverWorks
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)
Season 1 available on Netflix

Having escaped Grace Field House, Emma and the older kids try to survive as they continue to escape capture from the demons. They are, instead, afflicted by the troubles of a missing story arc that has drawn the ire of fans.


World Trigger

Season 2

TV/Toei Animation
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)

Six years after their initial 73-episode run, World Trigger picks up where it left off with a second season. Ardent fans are treated to more great world-building, the continuation of Team Mikumo’s adventures, and some impressive improvements in animation and soundtrack.


Log Horizon

Season 3 (Destruction of the Round Table)

TV/Satelight
Where to watch: NHK Educational TV (subject to scheduling)

Log Horizon’s initial two-season run garnered a fair number of fans for their very different, detailed, and expansive take on the trapped-in-a-game-world genre. Now seven years later, we are brought back to the world of Elder Tale, starting Season 3 off with a heavy look at the political turmoil Shiroe and gang have become embroiled in.


Wonder Egg Priority

Season 1

TV/CloverWorks
Where to watch: FUNimation (VPN required)

With its gorgeous art style, amazing animation, and a top-notch soundtrack and sound design, Wonder Egg Priority is an arthouse film of an anime. Coupled with a compelling story, great voice acting, and some unexpectedly awesome fight scenes, this might easily be one of the best animes of the year.


HoriMiya

Season 1

TV/CloverWorks
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

A solid high school, slice of life rom-com about two teens living double lives, dishing out spot-on doses of romance, comedy, and drama in equal measure.


Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Season 1

TV/Egg Firm
Where to watch: Hulu (VPN required)

In yet another entry to the Isekai genre, a 34-year-old NEET has his fateful encounter with Truck-kun and gets reincarnated into a fantasy world with swords and magic. But with his memories from his past life intact, old trauma and wounds continue to haunt him even as he is given a new lease on life.


So I am a Spider, So What?

Season 1

TV/Millepensee
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)

Basically, this is That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, but instead of slime, you get a spider instead. Despite the familiar (and at this point, frankly done to death) premise, this anime is a fairly hilarious take on the well-worn genre.


Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki

Season 1

TV/Project No.9
Where to watch: FUNimation (VPN required)

Top-tier gamer Tomozaki thinks that real life is a crappy game, with no proper rules and no way for a bottom-tier character like himself to ever beat it. An unexpected encounter with his gaming rival convinces him to give this game life a shot. An interesting and funny look at the idea of the “gaming” life.


Heaven’s Design Team

Season 1

TV/Asahi Production
Where to watch: Crunchyroll (VPN required)

What if God decided to outsource the creation of all the creatures on earth to a design agency? This anime is what you get. It’s an easy watch that’s funny, irreverent, and even educational in parts, and hits close to home for anyone who has lived the agency life.

Photo credit Jet Tone Production

One of cinema’s most beloved auteurs is getting a retrospective at Asian Film Archive in March.

Retrospective: Wong Kar Wai is the latest programme put together by the institution, which will be screening eight of Wong’s films at Oldham Theatre from March to April 2021.

Seven of these films have recently undergone brand-new 4K restorations, which will debut in Singapore under the programme. The list of films are as follows:

As Tears Go By (1988)
Days of Being Wild (1990)
Chungking Express (1994)
Fallen Angels (1995)
Happy Together (1997)
In the Mood for Love (2000)
2046 (2004)
Ashes of Time Redux (2008)

Ashes of Time Redux is a re-edited version of 1994’s Ashes of Time, and will be screened in its existing form since its premiere in 2008.

“The eight films presented as part of this retrospective are an invitation into the charismatic and wistful world of a deeply influential artist,” Asian Film Archive writes.

“Whether tragically romantic, soaked in blood, or quirkily comedic, his distinctive works have enthralled a worldwide audience and inspired countless filmmakers with their bold stylistic strokes and an enduring enigmatic beauty.

Watch the latest episode of Coming Attractions with Asian Film Archive below, where programmers Thong Kay Wee and Viknesh Kobinathan talk about film on Singapore Community Radio.

The 4K restorations first premiered in New York last year at Film at Lincoln Center. With the programme, Wong provided a Director’s Note on the multitude of changes made during the restoration process, which he deems most satisfactory to the original vision for each film.

This includes remixing sound and restoring aspect ratios for Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, along with creating entirely new credit sequences for all films.

He also mentions that for Happy Together, the tragic drama starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, portions of his monologues had to be shortened due to original negatives perishing in an accident.

“Since the beginning of this process, these words have reminded me to treat this as an opportunity to present these restorations as a new work from a different vantage point in my career,” he writes. “Having arrived at the end of this process, these words still hold true.” Read the full note here.

The full schedule of screenings will be released on Feb 15, with tickets going on sale Feb 17.