Thursday, September 03, 2015

My Review of Scream's 1x10: "Revelations"

Written by Jaime Paglia
Directed by Jamie Travis

Piper (to Emma): "I seriously wish you could see your face right now. Hashtag: mind blown."

Er, yeah about that - more like hashtag: saw it coming from the start. I mean seriously, unlike most of the movies where I actually struggled to guess who the killer was going to be and what their motives were, the reveal of Piper as Ghostface was so bloody obvious from the start along with her motives that it just more of a relief when she unmasked herself more than anything else really.

It might sound like I'm annoyed by the reveal but I'm actually not. I get that I'm slightly older than the actual target audience for this show but it did feel like that aside from a few attempts at misdirection that Piper being Ghostface just wasn't shocking in the slightest. On the plus side, it finally gave Amelia Rose Blaire some meaty material as Piper told Emma and Daisy/Maggie a couple of home truths by the same spot where Brandon James was murdered in the first place.

The confrontation itself was pretty strong and I did like that Piper was fine with using Branson as a fall guy for her crimes until both Emma and Audrey royally mucked up her plans and killed at the lake. That of course led to something more interesting - Piper having an accomplice.

I'm not sure I like the idea that Audrey had some kind of role in the various murders during the season, though it wouldn't be the first time one of the killers/accomplices has murdered one of their own (Stu, Mickey, Jill and Charlie for example) and she has been acting fairly cagey before the last reveal of her and Piper previously being in contact with one another though.

As for the rest of the episode - a part of me is a little shocked that they didn't go for one hell of a bloodbath. Aside from the sheriff's death and a random extra, Piper's last hurrah wasn't quite as bloody as expected. On the plus side, she did make for a better killer than Roman did in the third movie and overall, it was a satisfying enough way of ending this saga while sort of setting up more stuff for next season.

- It was nice the show managed to get in a nice tribute for Wes Craven at the start of the episode. Thanks for the screams, Wes.
- Brooke literally got fridged in this episode but survived, which I was pleased about. I even liked Jake in this episode. That being said, only Will was the main character to actually die this season.
- Um, Piper - we've had two female killers in this franchise before. Plus Tatum back in 1996 pointed out sexism over dismissing the idea of a female killer.
- Whatever Audrey's motives for being in contact with Piper, I hope they make sense.

A decent finale but a fun, but not too challenging series. "Revelations" brought things to a satisfying enough conclusion even if Piper being the killer had been obvious from the word go. A part of me does wonder if it would be a better idea for the show to have a new cast and setting for the next season rather than extend the Lakewood stuff but I guess we'll have to see how things pan out next year though.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Doctor Who - Christmas 2015: River Returns

Yup, you've heard correctly. If both Doom Coalition and The Diary Of River Song from Big Finish weren't enough for the character, then another onscreen appearance is in order.

Last seen in the seventh series finale The Name Of The Doctor back in May 2013, Alex Kingston will be reprising the role of the flirty archaeologist and spouse of the Doctor in the upcoming Christmas episode, which has begun production. The episode is written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon who also directed this year's Sherlock Christmas special, The official BBC synopsis for River's return to Doctor Who is ....

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

I guess we should've seen this coming in a way. Steven Moffat himself never really dismissed the idea that he wouldn't bring back River in Capaldi's era and even Russell T. Davies commented that a Capaldi/Kingston episode would be sexy. Not to mention the fact that the character is also meeting the Eighth Doctor, courtesy of Big Finish as well.

Now, the obvious questions to ask ...

- When in River's timeline will she be meeting the Twelfth Doctor?
- Is Clara a part of the episode? The press release doesn't mention her at all and it does seem like Jenna Coleman could be stepping down from the TARDIS in the finale as well.
- Also, is River the only returning character in this Christmas episode? What if there are more to be announced over the coming weeks?

Personally, I'm delighted to see River back. While I will admit that I felt the character's arc had come to it's natural conclusion during the seventh series, I am definitely intrigued to see how she'll fare with Capaldi's Doctor and the fact that she's in the Christmas episode gives it a little more momentum as well. Overall, it should be a very interesting one this year.

Press Release:

Doctor Who - Series 9 will air on BBC1/BBCAmerica from September 19th. The Christmas special will air on Christmas Day.

My Review of Constantine's 1x03: "The Devil's Vinyl"

Written by Mark Verheiden And David S. Goyer
Directed by Romeo Tirone

Constantine (to Papa Midnite): "All this to get me alone. I'm flattered. You're gonna have to respect my boundaries. I don't do zipties without a safe word."

It only took them three episodes but the introduction of Papa Midnite certainly turned out to be the highlight in a very music themed episode. The character is one of the biggest in the Constantine lore and his introduction here set him up as a rather interesting antagonist for John, who was happy to bleed the latter out a little while at the same time focusing on getting the Acetate.

I have to admit the main plot (despite my love of music) didn't really grip me as much as I was hoping it would do. Yeah, there was the nice trope of people selling their souls to the Devil for success or the survival of a spouse (with the main guest character this week) but it was only when Midnite made his entrance did it feel like the story actually went somewhere.

The back and forth between Constantine and Midnite is something that I really am hoping later episodes are going to go to town with as the fight between the two of them over the Acetate at the radio station did set up some potentially great future conflict. Then there was that final scene where Midnite decided to embark on a little voodoo against Constantine as well.

As for the rest of the episode - Chas had a little more than he did in the previous one but there was more focus on Zed, who more or less became a fully fledged member of John's crew and proved to be pretty resourceful throughout the episode as well. While a part of me would've liked Liv to have stayed on, I do think generally that Zed is a decent character though.

- Naked and bloody, that's an interesting way of seeing the lead character this week. Took me a minute to realise he was doing a spell though.
- Manny briefly popped up but seemed perfectly fine with leaving Constantine tied up and bleeding out.
- We also got some insight into John's musical past as well this week. We'll probably get more in a later episode.
- For a moment, I thought Jasmine's husband was actually Ritchie from the first episode.

Not my favourite one so far but the introduction of Papa Midnite in this one was satisfying though. "The Devil's Vinyl" did have a lot of fun with a favourite trope and there was still some lovely visuals (Zed seeing Jasmine and a white tiger for instance) to keep things interesting.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

My Review of Constantine's 1x02: "The Darkness Beneath"

Written by Rocknes S. O'Bannon
Directed by Steve Shill

Constantine (to Zed): "Everyone who's put their trust in me dies."

To be fair, so far on the actual show itself that's only been true of Astra but I guess it's a statement that will have (or would've done had cancellation not been a thing) as the show goes on. With the exit of Liv from the opening episode, this one introduced Zed Martin as she happened to encounter Constantine around the very time she wasn't actually looking for him in the first place.

Zed was the woman from the end of the last episode doing all those rather neat sketches of John. Their first meeting in a Welsh mining town in Pennsylvania was certainly a fun one as the two of them kind of flirted a bit and mostly tapped into Zed's powers in order to actually figure out what caused the rather fiery death of a rather unpleasant miner at the beginning of the episode in question.

I did like that along the way with the mystery this week, we were getting to know some of the locals a bit more, including a disillusioned priest, a father and son duo and of course, the wife of the dead miner who surprisingly enough (or maybe it wasn't in retrospect) turned out to be the one who summoned the Coblynau (miner spirits) and who also ended up getting killed by them herself when they realised what she had done to her husband.

For a second episode, it was certainly a solid adventure and there's certainly a fun factor in knowing that each week we'll be in a different place (something which Supernatural fans get to enjoy too). Like with the opening episode there were more hints of bigger things to come with Constantine and Zed clearly having some kind of destiny with one another, which for the less comic savvy is intriguing in itself.

- Not much of Chas in this episode, save a few scenes and no signs of Manny either.
- Kind of funny we had a sort of Welsh themed surrounding of sorts, given that Matt Ryan himself is actually Welsh.
- Interesting that we had a Romani witch in this episode. I hope we do see more witches in the series as it progresses.
- The coolest visual of this episode was the scene where Constantine nearly drowned in the car. The show certainly knows how to pull off a trippy moment.

While the opening episode was better, "The Darkness Beneath" was a pretty solid one too. I'm not sure if I prefer Zed to Liv just yet but unlike the latter, at least we'll get to know Zed over the course of the season and Constantine himself continues to be played brilliantly by Matt Ryan.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Review of Aladdin (1992)

Written by Ron Clements And John Musker And Ted Elliott And Terry Rossio
Directed by Ron Clements And John Musker

Aladdin: "Someday, Abu, things are gonna change. We'll be rich, live in a palace, and never have any problems at all."

I've been meaning to review this one for a while now. One of my favourite Disney movies of all time and one I recently familiarised myself with again by buying the actual DVD, this rather loose but sort of faithful (ish) adaptation of the legend was in a slew of amazing films from the 1990s and from Disney's overall collection at the time.

The story is rather simple - master thief/street Aladdin and his monkey spent most of the time on the streets of Agrabah scraping by, stealing food here and there and generally making idiots out of the Sultan's inept guards until a chance meeting with Princess Jasmine results in Aladdin being thrown into a cell and the rather evil vizier Jafar deciding to use Aladdin's expert skills to enter the Cave of Wonders and get the lamp for him.

Of course that doesn't exactly pan out for Jafar, but Aladdin does summon the genie to transform into Prince Ali in order to impress the not so easily impressed Jasmine, who spends a great deal of the movie tiring of her father's attempts to marry her off. Eventually her and Aladdin/Ali do form a connection (along a romantic carpet ride) before Jafar's true colours are exposed and the genie falls into the wrong hands.

One of the reasons why I love this movie so much isn't just that Aladdin is the most perfect hero a Disney movie could conjure up but it's also that Jafar is the most perfect villain too. He's gloriously OTT in every moment, even his subtle ones and the partnership between him and malicious parrot Iago is one of the best villain partnerships of the entire movie.

To be honest the only main character here who is in any way short changed is the Sultan. He's well meaning but largely clueless to his daughter's needs and a little too easily manipulated by Jafar, even when he's not being hypnotised by the latter. Other than that, you've got a root worthy love story with Aladdin and Jasmine, genuinely fantastic villains with Jafar and Iago and wonderful support with Abu and the Magic Carpet. As for the Genie - it's one of my favourite roles with Robin Williams. He's the absolute highlight of the entire movie.

- I used to actually have the Sega Mega Drive game for this movie as a kid. It was a pretty fun game.
- Loved the little cameos of other Disney movie characters as well, courtesy of the Genie.
- The music highlights are too many but obviously, A Whole New World is the biggest one of the bunch. I also loved Jafar's mocking take on Prince Ali as well when revealing his new found power.
- There has been at least two sequels and a TV series to this movie. A live action movie is also being rumoured as well.

Easily one of the best Disney movies I've ever seen and one of my childhood favourites as well. Aladdin is a timeless classic that even over 20 years since it's release has held up incredibly well to this day. A definite must watch.

Rating: 10 out of 10

My Review of Constantine's 1x01: "Non Est Asylum"

Written by Daniel Cerone And David S. Goyer
Directed by Neil Marshall

Constantine (to himself): "My name is John Constantine and I'm an exorcist. In my line of work, there are days you need to forget but some you never will."

With all the DC shows that came out over the last twelve months, Constantine (as well as iZombie) was one that somewhat slipped my radar a bit but with the title character slated to appear in Arrow rather shortly, I thought I'd get up to speed on this shortlived NBC show before the episode in question and for a pilot episode, this was pretty fine.

Unlike Keanu Reeves in that 2005 movie of the same name, it took less than five minutes to actually believe in Matt Ryan as Constantine, which was a good start. Visually he looks the part so much and unlike Reeves, he actually embodies it as well, which almost the cancellation something of a disappointment.

The opening story itself is pretty straightforward with Constantine checking himself into an asylum, exorcising a demon only then to go out of his way to protect Liv Aberdine from a particularly nasty demon named Furcifer who also managed to toy with Constantine's guilt over the loss of a little girl named Astra but at the end of the confrontation, it was Liv who was able to spur Constantine into defeating the demon once and for all.

It's kind of a shame though that this was the first and only episode to actually feature Liv. I thought the character worked pretty well with Constantine and it was nice to see her reaction to both his powers, his friends and the growing powers of her own but Constantine's own manipulations more or less spelled the end for the character before she could properly begin to be honest.

The pilot episode had a lot to achieve and managed to do it well enough. Along with two different demon battles/exorcisms, we were given enough insight into Constantine's history with the occult as well as his allies in taxi driver Chas and estranged Newcastle mate Ritchie along with the arrival of angel Manny for good measure. Not to mention the rather glorious hints of bigger things to come as well.

- Though we didn't see it, Constantine's chain smoking will be a thing in the series. However the exploration of the character's bisexuality might not be - boo.
- Some nice little Easter Eggs in that cabin - including Doctor Fate's helmet, Pandora's Box, the Ibisick, Eclipso's Black Diamond and so on. There was even a Zatanna reference too.
- The episode's title is latin for "there is no asylum".
- It's nice that we got an opening shot of the character in Northern England, even if it was him in an asylum at the time.

A strong enough opening episode. "Non Est Asylum" played homage to enough of the comics while at the same time managing not to alienate those (including myself to a point) not heavily versed in them either. The show might have gotten a little overshadowed by both Gotham and The Flash (despite having more ratings than the latter) but it was a pretty solid opening episode, though more trippiness could be needed to make it stand out a bit more.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Coming To BBC1

It's not exactly the first time the BBC have adapted Shakespeare's works for their channels with the likes of Hamlet and Richard II appearing in recent and now, A Midsummer Night's Dream will be popping up.

The comedy will be adapted into a 90 minute movie for BBC1 by Russell T. Davies, as announced by the channel’s controller Charlotte Moore revealed at the Edinburgh Television Festival this week. The former Doctor Who showrunner, whose recent hits have included drama Cucumber and Banana will produce a “truthful version of the play - the original play, the original words, the original Shakespeare" with Moore adding it would be "warm and funny" and "will have as much attitude and invention as any theatrical interpretation.”

The interesting thing also revealed about this adaptation (which has yet to be cast) is that Russell will be working with the Doctor Who team himself in Cardiff as the adaptation will have a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action. With growing rumours of there not being a full series of the popular BBC1 next year, at least the team will have something to do next year.

With no further information on upcoming drama, The Boys (which Davies is meant to be doing for Channel 4) for now, it's nice to see that Russell will be back in Cardiff and working with the old/new team. One can only hope that while he's there, he might get some inspiration for reviving another series of his that last aired in 2011. As for the casting - you just know that both RTD and BBC1 are going to get the big guns for this adaptation.

Press Release:

Production for A Midsummer Night's Dream begins in the next few weeks and will air in 2016 on BBC1.

Glee - Season 6 Review

US Airdate: January 9th - March 20th 2015

All things come to an end.

Last Song: The sixth and final season might have aired a while ago and the DVD might have been released for US viewers is also not too recent but given that it's now finished airing on Sky1, it seemed the right time for this blog to do one more review for the final season. And it was certainly an interesting one, wasn't it?

While fellow FOX stablemate and current E4 hit, Empire might have overshadowed proceedings, Glee's final year did it's best to reminder audiences why it was such a groundbreaking hit in the first place and the focus on New York was halted in order for Rachel and Kurt to come back and manage the New Directions with the occasional guest appearance from past cast members and some new characters also thrown into the mix.

The new characters turned out to be rather likeable and interesting enough - quirky brother and sister duo, Mason and Madison, soulful singers Jane and Roderick and post modern gay (yes that phrase actually got uttered on the show), Spencer who breathed some new life into the New Directions along with the returning Kitty, the only member from the second generation that the show made the effort to retain for most of the final season.

I do like the focus of Rachel and Kurt as mentors as it forced the pair of them (the former especially) to grow properly as characters and it was nice to see some of the former characters like Mercedes, Artie and Sam factor enough times even if there was a noticeable reduction in the amounts of screentime for Santana and Brittany while Quinn seemed to be barely there at times.

For shippers though, the season briefly had Kurt and Blaine seperated, the latter dating Karofsky before they got back together and married in the same episode that Santana and Brittany did while Quinn/Puck and Will/Emma were going strongly largely offscreen. Even better was the reunion between Rachel and Jesse towards the final episodes of the season, even though it highlighted how ultimately pointless Sam's initial pursuit of Rachel was for the majority of the final season.

As for the final two episodes - 2009 and Dreams Come True, the former turned out to be one of the best nostalgia trips the series had as well as a clever retelling of the very first episode while the latter felt like a genuinely deserving series finale, bringing everything to a beyond satisfying closing while at the same time perfectly encapsulating the central message the series has always strived for.

While for the most part this final season did manage to recapture some of the heights of it's earlier years, there were a few blips on the way. Beiste's transitioning story while touching definitely should've been set up in the previous season as it was a little rushed here, the rivalry with Vocal Adrenaline was a bit tiresome in parts and some of Sue's antics (in particular that godawful Hurt Locker two parter) were barrel scraping in their awfulness as well. Other than that, Season 6 proved to be a mostly good return to form for the show.

DVD Extras: Just a Music Jukebox, The Final Curtain and "Looking Back" Video Yearbook for features. I thought with the final season they would've added a little more.

Episode Ratings

6x01: Loser Like Me = 7/10, 6x02: Homecoming = 8/10,
6x03: Jagged Little Tapestry = 7/10, 6x04: The Hurt Locker Part 1 = 4/10,
6x05: The Hurt Locker Part 2 = 4/10, 6x06: What The World Needs Right Now = 8/10,
6x07: Transitioning = 7/10, 6x08: A Wedding = 8/10,
6x09: Child Star = 7/10, 6x10: The Rise And Fall Of Sue Sylvester = 6/10,
6x11: We Built This Glee Club = 7/10, 6x12: 2009 = 9/10,
6x13: Dreams Come True = 9/10

Glee Season 6 is currently available on DVD.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ITV's Harry Price: Ghost Hunter - Cast Announced

ITV seems to have the supernatural/fantasy genre on the brain at the moment (most definitely not a criticism). With upcoming series such as Jekyll & Hyde and Beowulf on the horizon, ITV have also announced the cast for supernatural drama, Harry Price: Ghost Hunter.

The two hour movie will see Rafe Spall (The Shadow Line) in the title role,which has been described as a spine chilling mix of real history and fiction and is based on the novel The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring and real paranormal investigator Price himself. The film has been written by Jack Lothian (Doc Martin, Death in Paradise, Ashes to Ashes) and produced by leading independent production company Bentley Productions

Rounding off the cast include Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey) who will play Sarah Grey, one of Harry’s team in his paranormal investigations; Richie Campbell (DCI Banks) will play Albert Ogoro, Harry’s friend; and Lewis Reeves (Unforgotten) will play journalist, Vernon Wall.  Further casting includes Tom Ward (Death in Paradise) as MP Edward Goodwin and Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey) as Edward’s wife, Grace.

Press Release:

Filming for Harry Price: Ghost Hunter is currently taking place in London. An airdate for ITV has yet to be confirmed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Review of Scream's 1x09: "The Dance"

Written by Jill E. Blotevogel
Directed by Ti West

Emma (re Kieran): "I can't believe he did this anymore than I can believe you killed Nina."
Audrey: "Then I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. You two have fun together."

With the finale less than a week away, I have to give the penultimate episode it's due. Not only did it spend a good time convincing most people that Seth Branson/Palmer was guilty of the murders but soon things were flipped over and the suspicion then fell on to Kieran after both Audrey and Noah discussed that he had a prior history with Nina.

I have to admit it was a solid enough twist and a good means of creating a little tension between Emma and Audrey as well as the former didn't want to believe that her boyfriend might be a killer. Then Piper did a little digging and it turned out that Kieran paid a little house call to Brandon's elderly mother as did Piper and Emma themselves in this episode.

I don't know if Kieran's the killer but I certainly don't think Branson is, even if the last scene of the episode resulted in a rather bloody escape from the cop shop while the sheriff was being held hostage by Ghostface as well. It's going to be interesting to see how many of the characters make it out of the last episode alive to be honest.

As for the rest of the episode - it mostly involved Jake putting his foot in it, Brooke giving Branson/Palmer the benefit of the doubt and various mentions of the many killed at different points. Set up wise, I do think they set the scene rather well for the final showdown between Emma and whoever the killer(s) may be though.

- Piper certainly had a little more fire to her in this episode than she's had all season.
- While I like the Pulp Fiction nod, it does seem a little old for the characters on this show.
- Maggie's getting a maternity test. I keep thinking her other kid is going to be Piper and not Seth.
- It's Halloween going by this episode.

A solid penultimate episode, "The Dance" certainly has everything set up nicely enough for the last showdown between Emma and Ghostface. I just hope the identity of the killer (or killers) is a good one though.

Rating: 7 out of 10