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Twisted Metal review: Peacock’s video-game adaptation misses the mark

The review highlights a significant issue with the adaptation, noting an imbalance between humor and action, and comparing it unfavorably to the successful tonal blend achieved by Deadpool, even though both projects share the same screenwriters.

Recent successes in pop culture, such as Barbie and the Deadpool movies, have shown the appeal of blending contrasting tones. However, Peacock’s Twisted Metal demonstrates that achieving this balance is more challenging than it appears.

TWISTED METAL

Based on the popular PlayStation video game series, Twisted Metal follows Anthony Mackie as John Doe, known as the “milkman,” navigating a post-apocalyptic world in his trusty car. He scavenges food and medicine to sell to surviving human outposts. Along the way, he encounters a variety of survivors, from the friendly to the fascist, including characters like Quiet (played by Stephanie Beatriz) and Agent Stone (played by Thomas Haden Church). Additionally, the iconic character Sweet Tooth, portrayed physically by wrestler Samoa Joe and voiced by Will Arnett, adds a sinister presence to the mix.

Twisted Metal deviates from the storyline of the video games, which were primarily focused on demolition derby-style gameplay rather than intricate narratives. In the games, players choose from a variety of colorful characters, like Sweet Tooth and Agent Stone, and engage in vehicular combat on dangerous tracks until only one remains. Adapting this premise into a TV show poses challenges due to its simplistic nature compared to other successful video game adaptations like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and The Last of Us, which feature iconic characters and deeper storylines.

To compensate for the lack of a compelling narrative, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have filled Twisted Metal with an abundance of obnoxious jokes and mean-spirited characters. While this approach worked well for the Deadpool movies, the series struggles to capture the same magic. One major hurdle is Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of John Doe, which lacks the comedic timing and charm necessary to carry the humor effectively. Unlike Ryan Reynolds, who expertly blends brutal put-downs with charismatic charm in Deadpool, Mackie falls short in delivering the same level of comedic prowess. This disconnect underscores the challenges of replicating the success of Deadpool in a different context.

Moreover, Deadpool had a wealth of superhero culture to draw upon for its humor, spanning over a decade of iconic characters and storylines. In contrast, Twisted Metal has far fewer reference points in the realm of post-apocalyptic car action, with Mad Max: Fury Road standing out as a notable touchstone. However, it’s important to note that Fury Road’s humor is relatively subdued, primarily featuring eccentric characters like “the Doof Warrior” shredding a flaming guitar amidst chaos. Twisted Metal, on the other hand, relies heavily on juvenile humor, peppering its dialogue with Reddit-esque made-up swears such as “dickpunch.” This approach lacks the sophistication and wit that characterized Deadpool’s comedic style, further highlighting the series’ struggle to find its footing within its genre.

TWISTED METAL

In Twisted Metal, Mackie serves as both the protagonist and narrator, delivering a barrage of dialogue, particularly in the early stages of the series. However, much of his speech consists of repetitive exclamations like “oh s—!” intended to convey excitement without contributing to world-building or the creation of thrilling chase sequences. In contrast, Beatriz, a talented comedic actress, is underutilized in her role as “Quiet,” a character who speaks sparingly. This dynamic results in Mackie’s character dominating the dialogue while Beatriz’s character remains largely silent, despite her potential for humor.

Furthermore, the portrayal of the Sweet Tooth character feels off. While Arnett is known for his voice acting prowess, the decision to separate physical and vocal performances for Sweet Tooth seems unnecessary. Unlike Doom Patrol’s Robotman, who grapples with the division between his human consciousness and robotic body, Sweet Tooth lacks a compelling rationale for this divide. Instead, any humor derived from Sweet Tooth’s contrasting jovial personality and menacing appearance should stem from the writing, yet the character’s dialogue falls short, resulting in some of the series’ most grating moments.

It sounds like the portrayal of Mike Mitchell’s character in the show, particularly the emphasis on fat jokes, is disappointing to some fans of the Doughboys podcast. Additionally, the review criticizes the show for its tendency to undercut serious moments with ineffective humor, making it difficult for viewers to take the show seriously when it tries to evoke sentimentality.

The example provided highlights a lack of balance in tone, with the review mentioning a scene where sentimental moments are juxtaposed with insensitive humor, detracting from the intended emotional impact.

Overall, it seems that while the inclusion of familiar personalities like Mike Mitchell from the Doughboys podcast might be appealing to fans, the execution of humor and emotional moments in the show leaves something to be desired.

The review suggests that “Twisted Metal” might have been better suited as a movie rather than a miniseries due to pacing issues and a lack of focus on the central element of car chases, which is fundamental to the video game it’s based on.

The critique highlights a common challenge faced by modern streaming shows in maintaining a consistent tone and pacing over multiple episodes. In this case, the reviewer feels that the series takes too long to build up to the action sequences that are central to its premise, with several early episodes lacking significant car chase scenes.

By condensing the story into a two-hour movie, the reviewer suggests that it would be easier to maintain the necessary tonal balance and keep the focus on the core elements of the source material, potentially resulting in a more engaging and coherent viewing experience.

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