Monday, 29 September 2014

Outlander (Season 1) Midseason Finale

Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.  


It's going to be a long wait between now and April 4 when Outlander will return from its midseason hiatus to resolve the cliffhanger left lingering at the end of episode eight. 

Newlywed Claire Fraser has once again fallen into the hands of the sadistic Black Jack Randall,  forcing her new husband Jamie to mount a rescue attempt behind enemy lines. To make matters worse, the only reason Claire end up in the Englishman's clutches was because she bolted back to standing stones at Craigh na Dun to try and return to her first husband in the 1940's. This can't end well. 


This shows been getting a very positive response it seems. I really loved the books and I was more than pleased to see how close they've stayed to it and for the most part I understand why they've made certain changes. I am very excited to see the scenes and story lines come alive. New viewers must be intrigued by the story and wondering where it's going as well. In fact this midseason finale episode titled "Both Sides Now" left the viewers confused. In that really great scene in which Claire and Frank were simultaneously standing atop Craigh na Dun, could Frank hear Claire through the stones? They left that deliberately so that it would be ambiguous in Frank's mind as well. Did he hear her voice or was it just the wind? they played it a bit mystical. Creators settled a triangle for the first time since the beginning as we get to see more of what Frank's been doing which is an out-of-the-box idea as its not in the book at all. This in order to have an investment from the viewers, we understand a little bit more her dilemma, the fact that she is torn between these two men and two periods. Otherwise we would just go like "Come on, lady! Whats' the matter with you? just stick with the redhead guy and enjoy yourself!" 
This midseason episode honor the book and keep the spirit of it but we have to keep in mind that it's an adaptation and as I've said in previous reviews: series and films have other requirements. Producers and directors have to changed things around and then get back to where the story goes. I felt from the outset of "The Wedding" episode that the midseason finale will fade to black on that moment of the book as when I read it I've gone "I have  no idea what's going to happen next, and how the hell did he get in that window?"

Outlander will return for the second half of season one next year. Obviously it will resolve the cliffhanger. Plus, pretty intense things will come along I can tell you. Jamie will have some emotionally and physically difficult scenes to deal with; But it's such an important part of what the book is and what the story is about that there's no way to shy away from it. For the remaining episodes of season 1 I'm really excited to see the whole story once we get involved with Geillis and the witch trial. i find it great to bring her back, she's such a fun character and I love to see her and Claire together. I'm really looking forward for the end of season 1.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (Season 2) Premiere

After it was revealed that terrorist group HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD up to the highest level in Captain America: The Winter Soldier This left the division's few loyal members scattered and running for cover, while the government scrambled to destroy the many-headed threats. SHIELD was compromised and agent Grant Ward, one of the core team members, was revealed to be a mole in league with the enemy.


 

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD returns to ABC with season 2 premiere episode "Shadows". In fact, with Coulson and his team forced into the shadows while they rebuild SHIELD, the new season raises stakes higher than ever before and SHIELD has come out of Season 1 a stronger show in nearly every way. Some early instalments of season 2 capture the thrill we've come to expect from Marvel's properties, many mysteries were introduced in season 1 but answers did not seem to be forthcoming. 
If the season 1 finale left things on a high note the season 2 premiere elevates the show to another level, demonstrating a new found confidence in its premise, now that it no longer has to navigate into the tricky ground of maintaining Captain America: TWS secrets. The series has grown since its first season in two major way. First, the show has a new sense of purpose as Coulson's team is no longer part of SHIELD. After the fall they ARE the SHIELD. Coulson being the head of it makes every move he and his team do much more significant. Secondly, the character have a new sense of being lived in. Characters feel overly clean, fresh and new. Most of the crew have changed since they were introduced in the first season, bearing emotional scars, baggage from revelations and Agent Ward's betrayal and the far reaching consequences of his acts are still front-and-centre.   


There's also the introduction of several new characters. These characters largely have backgrounds as mercenaries, they serve as a nice counterbalance to the old crew as they're willing to question Coulson in ways that the other character's loyalty and fondness doesn't allow. The premiere's opening minutes are also the closest the series has ever come to capturing the scale and gravity of the Marvel's movies. It's thrilling to see the show operating with such a scale. Agents of SHIELD is probably the most ambitious show on TV nowadays, in terms of effects. Obviously as a fan like any others I have certain expectations because I'm used to massive super hero productions. They have to navigate with about fifty times less money and time, given that fact I do feel like they pull off some really great effects with the right amount of "Wow" per episode. The thing that is good about Marvel as a brand is: it isn't just about the "Wow", most of the time the best scenes are the one with humour and those characters moment. Finally, the theme of evolution with one of the villain character: Raina, were very apparent towards the end of the first season. What will SHIELD become? A part of the answer is in Coulson's monologue about how SHIELD lives in the shadows now. If anything, this episode proves the shadows is where Agents of SHIELD belonged all along. Infusing the show with just a touch of darkness that makes it much more interesting. Entering season 2, I'm sure the fan will likely be eager and excited to see how Coulson and his team navigate in the shadows as they try to rebuild SHIELD from dust.

Gotham Pilot

The origin story behind Commissioner James Gordon's rise to prominence in Gotham city in the years before Batman's arrival. 


In the opening moments of Fox's new series Gotham you follow a young Selina Kyle (Catwoman) as she leaps up and down fire escapes, picking pockets and making mischiefs. A few minutes later, she comes across a particularly iconic murder scene. The Wayne family murder. Bruce Wayne is left with the cold bodies of his parents as the murderer vanishes into the night. The drama is palpable in this scene - the score swells, the camera pulls way back and finally the young Wayne lets out a penetrating scream. You get the sense that you've seen all of this before. I think that will be the major problem with Gotham. As concerned as it is to show you characters and set pieces you might recognise, it never really takes the time to enrich them. I what you may think - It's hard to judge a pilot since so much is just set up but for this series to work it needs to give the viewer a reason to care about these characters. Many of them who will become future heroes and villains we already know, that's why they need to go beyond what's familiar with the emotional core of the story. 


Gotham City is a place - we've been trained to believe - as dirty and dangerous as any other places. Most of the action follows Jim Gordon, here a young detective, and his partner: Harvey Bullock. The pair are thrown into solving the Wayne murders. Their investigation takes us on a tour of Gotham players, either well knows from the comics or not. It's twisted just enough to draw us in instantly. I'm most disappointed by Jim Gordon's character starring Ben McKenzie. I'll be honest, he's just flat. By the episode's end all you can remember of him is that he'll become commissioner one day. However, the lead is elevated by Donal Logue playing his partner. This funny, conflicted yet intimidating man is the kind of dirty cop you want to learn about and root for. He's a bit more than what I've been expected him to be, even being something of a mentor to the young Gordon. They should definitely just hand the show to him. 

   
Gotham City itself is not well characterised. It's not as stylish and gritty as what we know from comics, and mainly movies. There are so much noises and so little atmosphere, it just not feels like you're watching the action in a city with its own iconic identity. That's a shame because the best Batman stories are the ones where you can feel Gotham City atmosphere.
I'm sure the series will have plenty of time to develop its characters after the premiere. Yet for the show to truly find its way, it needs to do more than just take what we know and put a new spin on things. It has a chance, since there are some very good ideas worth expanding while the bad can be improved over time. Finally for this show to really work as a all, Gotham City has to feel ALIVE!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

If I Stay

Life changes in an instant for young Mia Hall after a car accident puts her in a coma. During an out-of-body experience, she must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined or let go.



If I Stay is directed by R.J Cutler and starring Chloë C. Moretz. This film is based on the best-selling novel written by Gayle Forman, novel that I did not read. The trailer depicted the movie as I thought it would be but the movie is actually really not like that at all. The film does have this "out-of-body" experience happening throughout it but ultimately it's a container to tell the story of how she met her boyfriend in the first place and how they love each other and everything. They are cute, it's working as it's a teen drama story. It's a romance and it's what it is. Then they break up because they want different things out of life. What disappointed me the most is that the "out-of-body" experience is very brief, it's not like mainly she's in the hospital and shows her back story. The movie shows her in the hospital way less that I thought. If I Stay tries to surf on the wave of a way better movie i-e The Fault in Our Stars . It's trying to cash in on the success of teen romance movie. The movie itself establishes that heaven is real, it's not questioning it or whether or not you believe in it; *SPOILER ALERT* at the end she refuses an eternity of happiness with her family in order to regain the love of this young eighteen years old musician that she loves. She's the main character, played by Chloë C. Moretz who was good in her role though, and we are supposed to want her to live happily ever after and fulfil her dreams. However at this point of the movie we DON'T, we want her to walk towards the light that's all. It's a big fail.


Overall if you're a young teenage girl: THEY GOT YOU! They achieve to waste the potential of having a ghost in the movie by telling us a boring and easy love story.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Deliver Us from Evil

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rites of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorising their city.

 

Deliver Us from Evil is a new horror movie written and directed by Scott Derrickson, it stars Eric Bana, Joe McHale and Edgar Ramirez. I've always quite liked horror movies and possessions stories, as a result I was quite excited for a new horror movie to come out. I liked the director's touch on creepiness, the atmosphere, the editing work, his whole cinematography and the music as well was really good. This film is all a bit cliché though; like we've seen it all before in previous hunting, horror, and exorcism stories. There are a lot of irrelevant and useless jump scares, that did not ad a lot of scariness to the film. They bring those cop investigation elements to it which is a pretty good idea I think. I know it may seems a little contradictory however, Deliver Us from Evil is kind of original at times: as we're waiting for creepy sounds and doors openings to happen but nothing of that happened. Every scenes fell in place.


Overall obviously we've seen it all before and sometimes we've seen it done better than this but we've seen horror movies a lot worst than this one. Deliver Us from Evil could go both ways; as a cliché paranormal movie with a shitty cop twist to it OR as a quite good cop movie with a paranormal twist to it.   

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sex Tape

A married couple wake up to discover that the sex tape they made the evening before has gone missing, leading to a frantic search for its whereabouts. 

 

Sex Tape is directed by Jake Kasdan and is starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, who are the team that brought us Bad Teacher in 2011.If I have to define this movie in one word it would be "too long". This film is too long. An hour and a half of this story is too long. Every scene is just a bit too long. It's kind of a messy movie. I'm disappointed as Jason Segel is a pretty funny guy, he's proven himself to be a capable comedy writer. Cameron Diaz used to be pretty great at comedy but now she just starred in terrible comedy. This film was not even funny, not one single joke made me laugh. I can't believe that so many pretty good people gathered in a room and decided to make this film. All the character are unrealistic and fake, they look like they just come back from the most stupid cartoons ever. They tried to set up a realistic relationship between a man and a woman and their marriage which is gotten to a point where it's not really working anymore; but they failed. What shocked me the most is that Sex Tape is a Sony Pictures movie... with so many Apple products. Everyone is using an Ipad or a MacBook a whole bunch of time, talking about their features, showing their features and getting a tone of advertising from Apple. 


Overall if you've seen the trailer for Sex Tape, not only you've seen every single part which is even remotely funny but you know exactly where the story is going. They're going to have sex, record it and spend the rest of the movie and a whole bunch of embarrassing conversation trying to avoid the fact that they made a sex tape.

22 Jump Street

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jeko when they go deep undercover at a local college. 


22 Jump Street is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are coming fresh after the success of The Lego Movie. It's starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, back from the first movie 21 Jump Street. This film makes fun of comedies and action movies; and it does a great job at doing it. 21 Jump Street was a huge surprise, if I'm being honest I thought it would be terrible but instead it was hilarious and very clever. This time they've being able to surprising again with this film and even better. The chemistry between Tatum and Hill is once again excellent, and they handled action sequences better than in the first one. Plus, there are extra scenes to stick around for at the end; and let me tell you that the end credits are actually the funniest thing ever. This film is really effective, totally aware of itself and enjoyable. I laughed. I liked what they did with the character and where their relationship goes. What else could we ask for in a comedy? At the same time it's the exact same film as 21 Jump Street but the fact that they're joking about that and in the know of it makes it more O-K to watch. it's a tie as it feels on the one hand like a proper sequel and on the other hand like a reboot.  


Overall 22 Jump Street for the most part is better than 21 Jump Street, I loved the chemistry between the stars and there are a lot of great jokes.    


Monday, 1 September 2014

Hercules

Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord. 

 

This film is a billion times better than The Legend of Hercules released at the beginning of the year; and that I did not even bother to review. Hercules is directed by Brett Ratner and starred Dwayne-The Rock-Johnson in the main role. This is probably not the best movie of the year. However director Brett Ratner could make good looking movie and The Rock is awesome. I like him in everything he does and this movie reminds me of The Scorpion King (2002) which is one of his best movie ever. I'm surprised to say that this film is not as bad as I thought it will be. It's not a super great movie but it's not awful as well. The Rock is good as Hercules, he's big, strong, likable and good at action and kicking asses. Indeed there are some impressive battle sequences which were handled pretty well. The major drawback of this film is that we are waiting for the big twist till it's only 20-25 minutes left on the film. The big turn didn't happened soon enough unfortunately. Beside this aspect I wasn't really expecting more of this movie and may be that's the problem. 

Overall Hercules is a bit better than I thought and a LOT better than what happened in this other Legend of Hercules movie of January.

Enemy

A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie. 



Enemy is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who has directed Prisoners released in 2013; this movie was one of my favourite film of last year. However Enemy was shouted directly before Prisoners. This film is much smaller and seemed not to be a stereotypical kind of film. It has nothing traditional. I felt this urgent necessity when it ended: to go online, do some research, read what other people were thinking and their theories on the story. Then I watched it again. This time properly enjoying the film, enjoying the beautiful shots, the great score and Jake Gyllenhaal; who was great playing both parts.  In fact I found it hard to grasp at time and it lessen a bit my enjoyment of the movie. Enemy appeared like Hitchcock meeting Nicolas Winding Refn. On the one hand Enemy is really affecting as the movie roles along you start to connect things that you didn't see coming millions miles away. There is no giant revelation and big stupid twists. I'm really impressed. On the other hand the imagery is disturbing and hunting as well. This film begin with a small and simple story but as it begins to grow and expand I really get invested in what this guy's doing. 


Overall, Enemy is an interesting movie, beautifully shot, with really good acting. If you're a movie lover or just want some hint on direction, writing or even acting you should go see it.