Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)

Marvel has done it. They have finally made an amazing Thor movie. Since the start of the movie franchise within the MCU, it can be easily argued that the Thor movies haven’t been the best.  Now this doesn’t mean that the characters are bad, just the story telling… and Jane. They seemed like filler films for the bigger projects, such as Captain America: Civil War (Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, 2016) and both of the Avengers. They act as a solution to please fans by releasing any new Marvel movie every few months but after 6 years we finally have a movie that shows just how great Thor and Marvel can be.

thor

Plot: Hela, the goddess of Death, played by Cate Blanchett plans to take the throne of Asgard. That is all I’m going to say to ensure I stay spoiler free.

Trailer:

 

Review:  Let’s just start by saying that this is by far the best Thor movie they have made. The film has an interesting and dynamic plot, offering more than one main storyline to keep us engaged throughout. It’s funny, emotional and offers all you want from a new Marvel movie. I believe that unlike the two previous films, they never lose focus and keep the audience interested. There is never a dull moment with Ragnarok. This is also one of the funniest Marvel movies. It is very much in league with Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, 2014). There is a mixture of both verbal and visual comedy, showing the less serious nature of Marvel and Thors naive and egotistical nature. My love of Thors character has only grown with this film. There are a number of great one liners and humorous stunts that are sure to put a smile on your face.

thor-ragnarok-posters-thumb

 

 In addition, to more comic relief from characters, there are also plenty of emotional moments that can make any viewer care about the plot and the characters. We are given more character development shown within the previous films, from Hulk to Hela and more emotional interactions. You will laugh and then you will cry.  Despite, the great character development of Hulk, as a sacrifice we aren’t given much screen time with Bruce Banner. Even when he is on screen, his character doesn’t act like his usual self, confusing the audience. This change can cause Banner fans to either feel upset or love him even more. It’s a brave decision by Marvel and I’m unsure if the risk paid off or not.

 hulk

Side note: please look out for the many great actor cameos within the film. You will sure to be surprised.

 

Let’s talk about Hela. We are finally given a great female villain! Marvel took a page from the book of DC and braved it up with a female lead. This is defiantly a step forward for the female fans and gives us woman another power badass to cosplay as. I know that she is evil but she is all powerful and very fabulous. Everyone loves a good villain and I can say with a hand on my heart that I love the goddess of death, thanks to Marvels and Cate’s great portrayal. I look forward to seeing more female representatives within the superhero film industry.

hela

From this film, it is obvious that they took a few features from Guardians of the Galaxy. The style, the look of the characters, the setting and even the great soundtrack are all massive hints. They clearly saw the success of Guardians and wanted the same response from audiences. They seemed to use the old saying of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. This removes some sense of separate identity. Thor should have its own style, rather than copying someone else’s. This change of style makes the film feel like it is separate from the other two films. This can be both a pro and con, depending on your love of 1 and 2. I did absolutely love the film but perhaps can be down to how much I love the style of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film they got a lot of inspiration from.

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Channel Zero: No End House (SYFY, 2017)

I am in complete denial that Halloween is over. Therefore, to keep up the spooky spirit, before I move into my Christmas obsession, I will be talking about the horror drama ‘Channel Zero: No End House (Sy-fy, 2017). The second season of Channel Zero is one of those hidden underappreciated gems that can slip through the fingers of horror fans. I could easily talk about the new season of Stranger Things (Netflix, 2017), which was amazing but everyone is doing that.

Plot:

When a mysterious horror house attraction appears out of nowhere, a group of friends brave the challenge of no-end house, believing it to be the stereotypical haunted attraction. However, each room is scarier than the next and somehow knows your worst fears. If you are brave enough to go through all the rooms, congratulations, you win! But this is ‘no end’. You never really get to leave. Instead you end up in a copy of your world, filled with you nightmares… dun, dun, dun! I really should write synopsis for Netflix.

Channel-Zero-No-End-House

Review:

With any horror show, to be good, you need two things. 1 is being actually scary or at least a little bit freaky. 2 is being unique. There are a lot of horror films and shows but we all know that the conventions, tropes and techniques. Repetition in plot has come so far in horror that you can usually predict the outcome or at least when people are going to fall over and get trapped upstairs when they really should have ran out the front door. One of the best shows that have been a fantastic horror drama is FX’s American Horror Story. However, with the slow fade of quality from last year to the rock bottom performance of this season, we have been saved by Channel Zero. No End House has a plot so unique that you can’t help but praise. This gives such a fresh take on the horror genre. It allows suspense and a need to know how it will end. In addition, through the first season having a bad ending, the need to know is very present when watching. The show also has the creep factor, with the set design, character design and the main idea. The series has all the elements of a great horror.

no-end-house-trailer

This plot is down to the creative minds of the writers on the website Creepy pasta, a sight where amateur writers post horror shorts. The original text is incredibly creepy and different. The whole story is based on the inside of the house, rather than the characters attempting to get back to the real world. In my opinion, the text is so much better. Despite, how great the show is and truly creative, I believe the show would have been improved, if they stuck to the blueprints. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Each room within the house is also completely changed. This was a poor choice by SYFY. On the other hand, the change may have been done to surprise fans of the Creepy Pasta story. Basically, the show has a fantastic narrative but it’s difficult to see the resemblance from the original text due to the drastic changes. This could have been a poor decision because of the quality of the story. Perhaps, a combination of the two would have allowed for a beautiful piece of horror and happier fans.

On the other hand, by straying away from the original, we are given more characters and more substance. We are given more backstory and additional parts to the plot. This will usually cause us to feel more empathetic towards characters and forces us to care about how their story develops and ends. From watching the show, I must say that I don’t have any love for the characters, I’m not sure if it’s their personality or just the lack of character development or even just the acting. I just don’t care about them. Maybe it’s just me being cold hearted or the quality of the characters. However, this is a horror, you expect people to die so getting attached probably isn’t wise.

channel-zero-no-end-house-season-2-episode-4-the-exit-syfy

From the look of the show, you can tell that it is on a budget, perhaps due to the low rating of the first season or the broadcaster itself. Never the less, it’s not always about how much cash you can splash but substance. Some of the best horror films are cheap to make. The qualities of plot makes up for quality of visuals so just give it a go before you pass it off as a B movie type series.

Top anticipated release of November 2017

Usually within my anticipated release posts, I would highlight several films or shows that I am excited about. However, for me the only film worth watching next month is Justice League (Zack Snyder)  out the 17th in the UK.  The next installment in the DC movie franchise.

After the Mediocre success of Suicide Squad (David Ayer,2016), which attempted to introduce several villains at once and carry a strong narrative but in my opinion (and probably the opinion of many others) didn’t really work, I am sceptical. As Justice League will have many characters, I am hoping they do not spend too much time running through everyone’s back story. However, as people are already aware of whom everyone is, I’m sure that narrative rather than character development would be the main focus.  I am looking forward to see if this is correct. I am also hopeful because of how absolutely incredible Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017) was. DC really stepped up the game with their first solo female superhero movie. As I love Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman so much I am very excited to see her again, even if she is surrounded by a group of men. I feel they have finally got up to the quality that audiences desire.

Furthermore, group Superhero movies are also incredible and usually successful, shown through many of the Marvel movies. This is assuming, however, that DC is able to meet with the standards of Marvel. From the trailer, the same amount of action and excitement is shown so it has a lot of potential. Hopefully, DC isn’t just showing all the good parts within the trailer, a terrible act within the film industry. This film has a lot a pressure to meet up with the hype and attention that DC has currently been getting. I am defiantly looking forward till November 17th.

Big Mouth Season 1 (Netflix, 2017-)

Ladies, gentleman, people of the Jury, we all know that cartons aren’t just for kids. We have great adult cartoons such as Rick and Morty, Family Guy and South Park. These are shows defiantly not fit for Cartoon Network. Netflix thought they would get on board the band wagon of inappropriate cartoons and made Big Mouth. From the look, characters of the show and the theme of going through puberty, it does originally seem like a nice teen show but please don’t make this mistake. It’s crude, bizarre and just kind of cringe worthy. I don’t want to watch 12 year olds masturbate but apparently in a cartoon this is fine.

Big Mouth follows a group of, I believe 7th graders (I’m British, I don’t know the American School system), going through the awkward stages of puberty. Women experience their first period, guys get their first pubes and teens get their pillow pregnant?! It’s super weird. The show explores the nature of moving from tween to teen, with strange metaphors and over bizarre situations. My personal favourite, being the hormone monster, who offers extremely crude suggestions in romantic situations. Nothing is better than trying to kiss someone for the first time when a monster is screaming at you to take them there and then. However, you can’t deny that inner you will shout that sometimes. It’s all the typical cartoon shenanigans but with such cringe situations, perhaps to represent the awkwardness of being a young teen. Despite this, it does rely on people to find second hand embarrassment and gross humour funny. I feel like I shouldn’t laugh at a teen jizzing his pants because he hugged a girl. I felt like ‘WTF Netflix’ was the general mood.  I personally don’t enjoy this form of comedy so some of this show is wasted on me. But I know a lot of people will laugh out loud at a lot of the scenes.  Nevertheless, I did really enjoy the show.

The idea of puberty is also well presented and since the target audience has already gone through that terrible stage, we can both appreciate and laugh at the crap that these characters must go through. Nothing is better than laughing at other people’s pain. It’s a show with a decent theme and purpose. The presentation is what keeps us film and TV critics at bay. Anyone who has seen the show will know that the song ‘Life is a fucked up mess’ is a tune. The series really allows a basis to catalyse a conversation on puberty and bodily changes. Hopefully, once you have watched to show, you will be able to open up and laugh about periods and pubic hair (more than you probably did before).

I also find that the show is trying to find its feet during production. The storylines only get better as the show progresses so if you watch it, give it time. There were a few times early on, where I thought I was going to give up on this ridiculous cartoon but I’m glad I saw it through to the end.

Netflix Original: Gerald’s Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017)

Stephen King must be rolling in the money the past few months. With the release of IT (Andrés Muschietti, 2017) and now the release of Gerald’s Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017), only available on Netflix, he must be laughing at his success. There is no surprise that King has a net worth of over $400 million, when he can produce stories that are both great as novels and movies.  Gerald’s Game hit Netflix just last month and has defiantly proved this theory right, with one of the best Netflix original movies I have seen. It has a truly engaging storyline and film techniques good enough to make any film nerd scream with excitement.

Plot: When Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) go on a romantic getaway to spice up their sex life, Gerald decides to handcuff Jessie to the bed. Unfortunately, before any of the fun begins, Gerald has a heart attack and dies, leaving Jessie handcuffed to the bed, with no one around to get her out.  She must either try to survive long enough for someone to find her or find a way to get out herself. Luckily, she has the hallucinations of herself and her dead husband to help her through her nightmare.

 

 

Review: Firstly, any film that can have such an interesting and captivating narrative that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat, whilst being set in just one room is a rare and beautiful oddity in film making. As Jessie is strapped to a bed in one room and all she is able to see is the inside of her bedroom, this is all the audience is really able to see. We are confined to the mental and physical observations of our trapped character. For Jessie the world outside doesn’t exist so for us, it doesn’t really either. Space was an important part of the filmography and it is clear throughout.

Geralds-Game-Film-2017

Now the prospect of just watching a character strapped to a bed for 1h and 45 mins does sound very boring. She would have no one to talk to and she wouldn’t really be doing much but struggling and screaming. Well, she imagines herself and her dead husband talking to her and trying to help her live. This prospect is a really fun and interesting idea used within the film. It can suggest that her subconscious is really trying to survive and offers some innovative solutions to the conscious Jessie, who just can’t seem to stop panicking and crying. It seems as if the survival instinct is a separate part of Jessie, which allows her to keep ticking, even when she is a mess. Plus, it allows the audience to see her thought process in a more creative way, compared to her just talking to the air or hearing an internal monologue. Plus, it makes Jessie seem extra crazy. This however, may be just down to Stephen King being an excellent writer, rather than the director.

GERALDS-GAME

The sub plots are also appealing and provides both a large character development for Jessie and builds in elements of horror. The film shows flashbacks to Jessie’s traumatic childhood and added ‘hallucinations’ of death/ the moonlight man, a very creepy man who lurks in the shadows and appears in the moonlight. First we are given the horror of Jessie being shackled to the bed and then stuck to the bed with a monster on the loose. What I’m saying here, is the plot is fantastic. It is a unique yet simple storyline that offers a creative way of presentation that can be appreciated by both film fanatics and non-film fanatics. On the other hand, I am unable to comment on if the film sticks to the novel and how much I should be praising Stephen Kings writing rather than the directing of Mike Flanagan, as I have never read the book. (I do pan on reading it after I’ve finished Stephen Kings Misery… 200 pages left). If you have read the Novel, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

moonlight man

The conclusion to the film could have been a bit more dramatic. For those of you who have seen the film, I mean the last few minutes rather than the really gross and gory part. I do have to give them credit for the gross out factor. Not many films can make me cringe quit like that scene could. I mean, everything is wrapped up in a little bow for us fussy viewers. It was a typical Hollywood ending. For a film that focuses mainly on straying away from cinematic norms, perhaps they could have kept this prospect until the very end.

Despite, the incredible character development of Jessie, I do believe that Gerald’s storyline is lacking. We learn very few things about him, yet he is a main character within the film. We are suggested that he is slightly abusive and cheats but this is only a small part of his character. I wanted to understand more about their relationship and explain why her mind chose to have him help her through the film, if he was such a terrible character. I mean the film was named after him so a little more development is all I ask.

Overall, I would totally recommend this film. It is unlike any film I have really ever seen and you have no idea how difficult they are to find in this industry. It does have its flaws, like all films but there are way more positives.

 

My top 5 horror television/ Netflix returning shows.

Its October next month and that can only mean 2 things.  1) Its Halloween!!! Time to get spooky. 2) All the good horror shows are back on TV. Finally! We will be graced with some truly great television returns. As someone who loves the horror genre, I am very excited for the fright fest. In honour of the event, I am counting down my top 5 horror television/ Netflix returning shows. This will not include any new shows or the great spooky shows that returned in September, such as America Horror story on Fox, AMC’s Fear the Walking dead or SYFY’s Channel Zero.

5) The Exorcist Season 2 (SYFY) October 11th (UK).

Last year, a brand new horror show graced our screen, based off of the 1973 movie The Exorcist…. and the book I guess. The first season was based on Regan, the little girl from the film all grown up. The devil was back for more and returns to possess her daughter and torment her family. The second season seems to focus on a new family, allowing for a whole new story. Judging by how scary the first season was for a television adaptation, I hope to see some new frights in store and a continuation of quality. The first season had some impressive character development and adaptions to the original story. However, with horror shows, there is always the risk of losing itself along the way.  As we are moving somewhere new, there is always the chance that this can turn into another generic haunted house plot. This is would be perfectly fine, if we didn’t already have a few of these on our screens. We want originality to be scared. We will just need to wait and see.

4) Riverdale Season 2 (Netflix/CW) October 12th (UK).

Just the day after The Exorcist returns, Riverdale is back on Netflix. I know this isn’t necessarily a supernatural horror show but if you have watched the first season, you would know that there is murder, gangs, secrets, cheerleaders and disturbing plot lines involved. The show is very much a typical high school chick flick but with much darker and twisted themes, that you would usually see in shows such as Game of Thrones, rather than a high school drama. It’s very much the Heathers of the TV world (1988, Michael Lehmann). The show fits perfectly within the mystery teen genre and brings some originality to industry, with the use of tones and colour schemes. I personally loved the show because I am one for a little romance, mixed in with my crime horror. The storyline kept you thoroughly engaged with cliff hanger after cliff hanger. The show also had some lovable characters and cast. I have no trouble understanding why Riverdale has such a large fan following on Tumblr.  Again, as the main crime from the first season has been solved, it is difficult to see if they could match up the thrill of a murder with the shooting of a fairly secondary character, which still might live. BUT as the characters, rather than the plot, are the main selling point of this series, the show may still be safe after all.

3) Supernatural Season 13 (CW) October 12th in USA.

Yes, Supernatural is on its 13th season. The show might end…eventually. Now as a long time Supernatural fan, who has watched the show since its first season, I am allowed to judge the downfall of this show. Supernatural has faced a variety of big bad evils throughout the years from angles, demons, the 4 horsemen, the Devil, Leviathan and even Gods sister. These boss battles would get more extreme each year. However, what can trump God and his sister? According to the show, a Nephilim can. This is a child of a demon and a human. Sounds powerful but is also the villain in season 5 episode 6 so it’s been done before as a filler episode. However, the monster was never defeated as he was far too powerful, leaving some element of hope that this big bad could cause a lot of trouble for our boys. They shouldn’t recycle villains but it should be interesting to see if it pays off. Judging from the trailer, the quality of the show has gone down again but I am excited to see it back. Sometimes though, it’s wise to quite while you are ahead. They shouldn’t just drag it out until the quality gets so bad that no one watches. Perhaps season 13 will prove me wrong. Despite this, Supernatural has a very dedicated fandom who would probably watch Sam and Dean eat burgers for 45 minutes and be happy about it (I am one of these fans).  This is in my top 5 simply because I love Supernatural. It’s silly but has some fantastic moments and some incredible characters. I can’t wait to see what’s in store and how they set up the next big bad for season 14. Let’s face it, season 14 is happening. VIVA LA CASTIEL.

2) Walking Dead Season 8 (FOX) October 22nd.

Much like Supernatural, it can be argued that the quality of The Walking Dead has decreased slightly. This is down to the amount of build-up that season 7 has put into season 8. By this logic, the next season should be incredible. We will finally see the big battle between Negan and Rick, a concept they have been making audiences wait for, for a very long time. Due to the mass success of the show and cinematic style, the show has a lot of pressure to please us and create a truly fantastic season. TWD has been amazing before so there is a lot of opportunity for this to continue. Many people I know will be judging the first few episodes to decide if they want to continue with the series. Mind you, many people continued after the horror that was season 2 so if they can look past the farm, then they can excuse season 7. Judging by the trailer, we have a lot to look forward to, with more fighting of both the living and the dead, adding to anticipation of The Walking Dead’s return. Plus, we all want to know what our beloved characters are up to. I know a lot of people in the fandom, who want to know if Jesus and Daryl will hook up.  However, the TV industry could just be pulling their usual trick by putting all the good stuff in the trailer. There has been a lot of hype, let’s hope it pays off!

1) Stranger Things Season 2 (Netflix) October 27th Both UK and USA.

Stranger Things was all the rage last year when Netflix released one of the best horror shows I have ever seen. It’s not hard to see why the show had such an incredible response. There were some of the best child actors to bless our screen, accompanied by compelling and horrific script writing. A truly talented bunch of people made this phenomena and it’s not hard to tell. The 80’s charm and the immature characters appealed to a large target audience and were fit for those who may even be opposed to the horror genre. The show had an excellent combination of plot and character development, a difficulty in a lot of horror shows. Stranger Things feels similar to the 2017 version of IT. Everything about the first season was a masterpiece. Much like The Walking Dead, this adds to the pressure of season 2. They must make a frightening but fitting storyline and keep our characters engaging. Perhaps, this is why the show has stepped it up a notch by bringing the upside down the right-side up. The horror world is invading ours with a lot more force. From this, the creators have promised a scarier tone. Excellent for horror fans but could put off some viewers. Their loss. I simply can’t wait. Hopefully the Netflix server will be able to handle the demand of everyone binge watching Stranger Things all at once.

 

Let me know what shows you are looking forward to.

 

 

 

 

American Vandal: Season 1 (Netflix, 2017)

Crime documentaries are a very recognisable genre. We know the conventions. By this, I mean, we know that they will include interviews from witnesses, friends, family and the suspects.  They would have cut aways, narration, reenactments and professionals/investigators conducting experiments. You can spot the genre a mile away. However, we have finally reached the last stage in a genres lifecycle, parody.  Parody is to essentially take the piss out of genre conventions or other texts. Netflix took this definition and turned it onto the investigative crime doc, with its most recent addition, American Vandal.  Netflix does describe the show as a satire but the show seems to mock codes and conventions of film/TV, rather than society so I’m just going to call it a parody. (My dissertation was on parody so I apologise if I sound a bit too passionate about it).

Plot:

When Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is accused of spray painting 25 dicks on to 25 of the teacher’s car, Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) create a documentary to find the truth. This 8 part mockumentary will seek to uncover if Dylan is guilty and if not, who is?

Trailer:

Review:

The show takes the investigation seriously and follows all the guidelines of a traditional documentary. You could easily mistake it for anything you would see on CBS. This is until you find out that they are investigating dicks. Luckily, the show doesn’t give us dick joke after dick joke. The fact that they take this crime so seriously and even make the show 8 parts is what makes it funny. They really grip you in, making you want to watch more. The humour stems from how this crime is replacing the usual murder storylines and replacing it with a childish crime. They just take the dicks so serious! To be fair so do I. I watched the show in about 3 days because I just wanted to know, who drew the dicks? I often found myself gasping at new bits of evidence and trying to solve it myself. I did pick up on stuff before the investigators did and that just heightened my need to watch it. It was just like watching any other crime show…kind of.

american-vandal-trailer

For such an immature crime comes immature suspects and investigation. Those involved are mostly students so their reasoning and methods of investigation are far from professional. They investigate the ball hair on the dicks and the hottest mums in school, to the credibly of a suspect based on whether or not they lied about getting a hand job. It does seem silly but it really works. I just can’t get how the serious everyone takes it, it’s based on dicks!  This does however mean, that you will just laugh at how stupid the show is, rather than actual comedy and jokes. Your comedy preferences would really influence If you enjoy this show or not. I do hope this inspires other mockumentaries. However, I don’t want to risk ruining this new genre.  This could inspire new shows but also start a trend that could be unsuccessful. Parody can be difficult to pull off but can always result in some great programmes, take Parks and Recreation for example.

american vandal

For such a non-serious crime, the show really needs to find evidence to discover who it is and why they did it. This is again understandable for the genre. Unfortunately, there is a lot of time wasting. They investigate things that are unnecessary and really drag everything out. I do believe that they could have made fewer episodes to keep viewer interest and avoid wasting time and budget. 6 episodes would have been much more fitting. In addition, when we finally get to the end episode, it isn’t wrapped up very well. I was left unsatisfied. I do enjoy my shows wrapped up in a little bow. However, this could be the show leaving room for a second season. We will just need to wait and see.

american vandal 2

The show is also unrealistic. Now hear me out. I know, it’s a crime drama based on investigating dicks on cars. This isn’t what I am talking about. The show is produced by student film makers around the age of 16. Throughout, it is implied that their past projects have been terrible. They aren’t given a budget. They have school level equipment but can still produce really high quality content. My level of work was nowhere near as good as this, not until I was at university. BUT, this does need to be watchable by a real Netflix audience. Maybe I’m just jealous that Peter and Sam can make better work at 16 compared to me at 16.

dylan maxwell

Overall, I did enjoy the show. I did watch it in about 3 days and I usually like to take my time because I hate it when shows end on me. I put the finale of Pretty Little Liars on hold for two weeks because I didn’t want it to end. If you have a love of parody, I would give it a watch. I found it hilarious and I hope to see more from the mockumentary genre after this.