Wednesday, June 19, 2024
EditorialTWISTED METAL (ft Samoa Joe) First Impressions: See It or Skip It?

TWISTED METAL (ft Samoa Joe) First Impressions: See It or Skip It?

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Samoa Joe is one of many pro wrestlers with an ever-increasing acting resume, and his most recent project is Peacock’s new television series Twisted Metal, based on the popular video game franchise.

Dating back to the first game’s release in 1995, the series mixes elements of Mortal Kombat with Mad Max and actually has a plot revolving around essentially making a deal with the devil. However, most fans and players skip past that entirely and take the series for what it effectively is at face value and gameplay mechanics: an over-the-top demolition derby.

For over a decade, film adaptations have been spoken about and worked on in various capacities. Now that we finally have a television series instead, and it stars a current pro wrestler, that means I felt like it’s worth deviating from our normal content here at eWrestlingNews and talking about something a little off the beaten path.

As I’ve stated in previous similar reviews, like Batista’s Knock at the Cabin, even if wrestling isn’t any bit of a focus, the sheer idea that a pro wrestler is involved in the project inherently likely means the producers assume that will draw some of those fans to watch it. Basically, if you’re a fan of wrestling and you know that wrestler, this will be more on your radar.

Sometimes that works. Other times, it doesn’t move the needle even the slightest bit.

Well, in case you’re on the fence about watching Twisted Metal, I’ve gone ahead and checked out the first episode for you. So should you watch it, or should you just skip it?

Spoiler-Free Synopsis

In case you don’t want to know too much about the television show other than the general concept you’d get from the trailer—as it does in fact differ from the video game in some ways—here is a short description without any real spoilers:

Anthony Mackie stars as John Doe, a motor-mouthed outsider who must deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland — if he can survive the drive. With the help of a badass axe-wielding car thief played by Stephanie Beatriz, he’ll face savage marauders and other dangers on the open road.

If that sounds up your alley, especially if you’re into similar types of movies, shows and video games, then maybe you’re intrigued. But if you still want to know more, let’s break it down even further.

Is There Anything for a Pro Wrestling Fan?

Just in case you’re specifically coming into this from the perspective of being a wrestling fan, how does that factor into this?

Simply put, it doesn’t. At all. There’s nothing remotely related to pro wrestling on the show.

But that should be expected. After all, Twisted Metal isn’t in any way marketed as a wrestling property and never has been.

So maybe you’re watching because you want to see Samoa Joe more than anything else?

Well, spoiler alert, he doesn’t even show up on the first episode more than a few quick shots, so I actually went ahead and watched the second episode, too.

There, he does show up in a much more prominent role. But if you are unaware, his character—while the most iconic one in the franchise, Sweet Tooth—is actually a split role. Samoa Joe plays the physical part entirely in a mask and all of the lines are voiced over by Will Arnett.

This is interesting considering Joe doesn’t exactly have a bad voice that couldn’t have fit. In fact, he voices King Shark in the forever coming soon, overly delayed Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League video game.

So if you’re going into this with brand loyalty in that aspect, you might find yourself disappointed that this isn’t catering to your fandom.

So What About the Video Game Fans?

Admittedly, Twisted Metal 2 is the only game of the franchise that I ever used to play back in the day. Now, I did play that quite a bit when I was a kid, but I obviously never got so into the series that I became an avid fan and continued to follow it going forward.

Maybe that makes me not the best person to be speaking on the subject, but I have a feeling people who are super into the games will have 2 perspectives on this, depending on how flexible they are.

Not Flexible At All = There isn’t enough of the game stuff in it. It strays too far from the source material. Who are these characters? Where are the characters from the games? When are they going to have more action sequences? What’s with all this talking when the games are all just smashy smashy?

People Who Understand This is an Adaptation = Hey, neat. There are some references to the original source material. They’ve taken things in a different direction and are trying to pad it out into a full story, which requires deviating from just having cars blow each other up for 5 hours, but that’s okay. It still gives me the vibe of Twisted Metal and that’s pretty cool.

Basically, if you’re going into this expecting a live action recreation of how you played the games as a kid, you’ll be disappointed. That’s just never going to be a thing with any of these projects as different media call for different approaches.

Review In and Of Itself Inside a Bubble

Ignoring any of that and assuming you’re brand new to this and viewing it just as a television show all on its lonesome, what would I have to say about it after the first 2 episodes?

Of course, I have to specify that opinions are subjective and that what I like and dislike doesn’t necessarily equate 100% to you. And that’s okay. So more than anything, if you’re interested in this, I would say go ahead and check it out for yourself rather than listening to what I have to say about it.

But if you put stock into my opinions (maybe you tend to agree with me more often than not), then here we go.

I’m not loving it. In fact, I’m not even sure I’ll bother watching the rest of the episodes.

From the very opening voice over exposition dump, it immediately sets the tone that this is a jokey show. While that can certainly work for lots of different things, I think this is one of those instances where the execution is worse than the intention.

Not only does it immediately lower the stakes of what could be a very brutal show for people who are looking for something on the darker, more horror side, it just isn’t all that funny enough to make it hit on the comedy aspect.

This feels like someone saw a few Ryan Reynolds films, thought that constant quipping and undercutting tension is the most hilarious thing ever, and tried to do that, but failed. The jokes just aren’t making me laugh. I didn’t even smile once.

And that’s coming from someone who thought Deadpool was great and enjoyed movies like Free Guy and such for their worth. Sometimes, it’s a little overbearing and I could do with toning it down, but when it is done well, it is great. This, on the other hand, is like how a parody movie like Naked Gun or Scary Movie or Robin Hood: Men in Tights is so fantastic, but if you only watched Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans or, let’s face it, Scary Movie 5, you’d think “all parody movies are absolute trash.”

I can imagine the writers sitting around the conference table, tossing out suggestions of what 90s or 2000s pop songs they could pair up with Sweet Tooth just in theory alone, until finally someone thought of Sisqo’s “Thong Song” and they all collectively said “Bingo! That’s it! Brilliant!” Meanwhile, the joke is basically just “Wouldn’t it be funny if Sweet Tooth was into that song?” and nothing more.

I do think there’s something here, but that it required another pass from some better writers to punch it up. The dialogue is very on the nose, with scenes coming to a screeching halt if they feel like they need to put some drama into it. The tones shift around like crazy, so none of them work.

I’m surprised there are so many big names attached to the show. Anthony Mackie, Stephanie Beatriz, Neve Campbell and Thomas Haden Church are all good actors, but they don’t have too much material to play with that can show off their talents.

The action is decent, but nothing that I haven’t seen before done much better. That’s a huge disappointment, as I figured if anything, at least they might have some cool car stunts.

Judgment Call: See It or Skip It?

Skip It.

Unless you’re a big fan of the series and you want to check it out for that reason, or you’re less concerned about Oscar-caliber quality and more into just mindless entertainment popcorn flick stuff, it probably won’t resonate with you. But if your idea of a good time is something like Crank, then you might want to carve out some time to watch it. Personally, I think if you’re looking for a new release to check out, I’d go with They Cloned Tyrone on Netflix, as that was much better.

Did you see Twisted Metal? What did you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

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