Posts Tagged ‘TV’

A young lady is hired by a man to look after his niece and nephew at the family country house with a haunted past and things go bump in the night.

Mary Poppins-like accents aside, Haunting of Bly Manor is as well filmed and for the most part as gothic as its predecessor, that said it’s also a splendid muddle.

Following the theme of Henry James’ (who did not write literary stereotypical ghosts) 1898 horror novella ‘Turn of the Screw’, Quints story update ironically maybe the weakest part of this adaptation. Incidentally, recently it has also been adapted as the 2020 movie The Turning. It’s main issue is that it’s derivative of the recent American Horror Story: Hotel with characters who die become stuck in that location. Also Quint’s motivation echoes the story of the Sally McKenn character. It borrows from the Tower of Terror, In a Dark Place, The Others, Haunted to name a few, injecting countless film tropes. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for is its painful pace without the character development to arguably justify its running time and clumsy story twists. Nevertheless, the sets and locations are fascinating, perfectly filmed adding a immersive eerie atmosphere to the proceedings.

In addition, the LGBT character are given odd background stories instead of just being their sexually (similar to the recent Batwoman series), as if characters need some traumatic event to change them. That said, accents aside the acting at times is sterling especially from T’Nia Miller, Amelia Eve, Rahul Kohli the subtle housekeeper, chef and friendly gardener respectively. Victoria Pedretti is consistent but is for the most part in a state of shock or panic, Henry Thomas dose his best, even if a little too young for the role. Thomas’ shoehorned scenes with his doppelgänger are memorable. Aged male-up Carla Gugino is on her usual fine form. Tahirah Sharif is particularly notable but the story dictates her minimum screen-time.

The flashback sequence in “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes”, episode 8, directed by Axelle Carolyn (Halloween Tree director, wife of Neil Marshall director of Dog Soldiers and Game of Thrones) is by far the most intriguing, actors Catherine Parker and especially Kate Siegel are both outstanding here.

Overall, it’s a hit but mainly miss affair and while the old ghost story is welcomed, it’s simply disjointed in its execution and pacing especially when compared to The Haunting of Hill House.

Androids Mother and Father flee Earth to settle on the planet Kepler-22b. However, when their mission doesn’t go as planned, Mother shows that she is not the same as Father when confronted with threats – both human and unhuman.

Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves is pretty mesmerising. Expands on the Artificial Intelligence themes of Blade Runner and Alien. It’s edgy with high production values from the outset. Although the music, topography and holographic technology aesthetics mirror those in Prometheus and Alien Covenant, Raise by Wolves has it own identity. Scott’s touch and DNA is all over the screen elevating it to another level.

Actor Amanda Collin’s Mother is one of the creepiest and most dangerous memorable Art Deco looking AI’s to grace the screen. But Abubakar Salim steals many scenes as likeable Father. Travis Fimmel is a welcomed addition and there is more to his character Marcus as the episodes proceeded.

The visuals are outstanding for a television show, following in the footsteps of the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld. Yes there’s evolving alien creatures and dangers on Kepler but the triangle of conflicts, namely AI, atheists and faith deliver plenty of drama. There’s story twists within the welcomed metronome pace and there’s plenty of nods to other science fictions littered throughout, even a (possibly unintentional) homage of sorts to Class of 1999 in the 2nd episode with the medic robot and more.

The series is scary, emotional and intriguing, the apocalyptic flashback imagery echo The Terminator. Like many TV shows that have explored AI and religion, Caprica; Westworld, Battlestar Glacticia and Almost Human to name a few Scott’s offering has its own memorable legs. Highly recommended.

Johnny Lawrence finds himself adrift with a broken marriage and a teen son who can’t stand him decides to reopen the Cobra Kai studio to turn his life around.

Cobra Kai is a nostalgic success in terms of interestingly intertwining call backs and twisting character beats of the original film series including The Karate Kid, part II and The Karate Kid part III. If anything Cobra Kai surpasses its source material (although an essential platform for the series to work).

The fight scenes are well choreographed but to be frank Cobra Kai works best when it’s dealing with the adult story lines rather than the teenage angst and conflicts.

Non PC Johnny starts out as almost technophobe and this makes for some memorable lines including, Oh, and put one of those hash browns at the end. You know, like, “Hash brown. Team Cobra Kai,” or something. And then send it to the Internet.” His character arc is interesting, as he wakes up to the 21 century while reducing the alcohol, showing the good and bad of then and now. Actor William Zabka is outstanding here (possibly, hopefully, there’s an 80’s Equalizer TV show in the works, where Zabka’s Scott returns as the son of McCall) he gives a solid performance.

It’s also great to see Ralph Macchio back in the role of Daniel LaRusso once again along with surprise original cast appearances. It also has some fantastic callbacks to the late Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi. What is great is that Cobra Kai is refreshing, it doesn’t just rely on nostalgia, the writers don’t just bring characters back in a bland predicable way, clearly some thought has gone in it and the character flaws and twists are what makes this series stand out.

It does cater towards its intended younger audience and to its credit has plenty to say about bullying, morals, loyalty and first love. That said, there’s enough to keep fans who saw the Karate Kid films the first time around hooked with plenty of call backs to the 80s, capturing the feeling of what it means to get old, looking back on life choices when you’re middle aged.

With some impressive production values, solid writing and cast, Cobra Kai, to paraphrase an old theme song, ‘It’s the best! Around! Nothing’s gonna ever keep it down.’ A must see.

As the residents of Deadwood commemorate Dakota’s statehood in 1889, saloon owner Al Swearengen and Sheriff Seth Bullock must face a corrupt senator head on when the conflict of a past event resurfaces.

Directed by Daniel Minahan the TV film is a solid continuation, even if condensed, shoehorned into an hour and fifty minute run time. Deadwood’s creator and awarding winning writer David Milch gives some much needed closure to a series which was cut short.

The cast including the likes of Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, the excellent Dayton Callie (as Charlie Utter), Kim Dickens, Brad Dourif and Paula Malcomson to name a few are on form with excellent performances all round.

As the residents of a now mature Deadwood, complete with railway station gather, the cast past and present do great work on the backdrop of some immersive sets and Reinhold Heil and
Johnny Klimek’s music. Sadly without a few of the cast members who have since passed away in real life (notably Powers Boothe) during the hiatus.

Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown) is slightly under utilised, but given there so much to include in the short running time this is understandable. There’s big hit emotional story beats and after many years, the characters have fittingly slightly altered, notably McShane’s Al Swearengen, now far softer (echoing Al Pacino in Godfather part 3).

In keeping with the series it moves along at the same pace, only it feels bigger production wise. In contrast, Milch’s offering is subtle in some story/character aspects and square on the nose in others. There’s plenty of closure, also refreshingly some ambiguity also remains.

Overall, it’s a mighty fine TV Western movie which ties up story threads nicely. Recommend especially for Deadwood fans.

With the FBI hot on his heels international thief Simon Templar goes about helping a man get his kidnapped daughter back.

Sadly this incarnation of Leslie Charteris The Saint has all the trappings of feeling like a TV pilot made in the 90s despite being made in 2013 (with extra shots filmed in 2015) and left on the shelf until 2017. Even though directed by Hollywood director Simon West (Expendables 2, The Mechanic) it’s a shame The Saint wasn’t given the same film treatment that was given to The Man from U.N.C.L.E (2015) or the budget of the poorly received 1997 film.

For fans Ian Ogilvy returns in a main role but not as Templar and also former Templar Roger Moore cameos. We also have reworked snippets of Edwin Astley’s theme pop up. The cast is full of talented movie actors including Eliza Dushku, James Remar and Thomas Kretschmann. With some action littered throughout there’s also interestingly flashbacks (an origin-like story of sorts) of Simons youth. With some good one liners Adam Rayner has a good stab at the main role Simon Templar. Rayner has the voice, look and suaveness especially after he loses his beard in the first act but like the whole production feels constrained.

As a TV film or pilot, even with some good actors and talent on board with a budget that appears to be less than an episode of 1980’s Miami Vice West just can’t pull the rabbit out of the hat. In a TV sea with Lethal Weapon, West World, White Collar to name a few it’s watchable but feels clunky when compared to the slickness of TV shows in recent years and lacks the nostalgic charm given its present day setting.

It’s a pity that makers didn’t make it stand out by placing it in the 1960s original or 70s Return of the Saint time period akin to a Life on Mars or the aforementioned Man from U.N.C.L.E film.

The Exorcist Movie Poster*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The exorcism of Casey Rance has finally arrived and all those involved must make a choice that will change their future forever.

Chapter Five retains the series gritty dark feel and The Exorcist continues to exceed expectations in ‘Through My Most Grievous Fault’. It’s partly a mile stone turning point for the characters, Alfonso Herrera’s Father Tomas Ortega is tricked and later finally gives into temptation. With dramatic range the excellent Ben Daniels as Marcus Keane tackles the demon and his own inner demons head on. As an outsider looking in and believing it is a medical issue not a possession, underrated Brianne Howey as Katherine Rance former ballet dancer logically calls the police and has Marcus arrested.

Director Jason Ensler balances the real and supernatural world elements with finesse. Hannah Kasulka’s Casey Rance (in almost a duel role is on form) the surreal inner demon fight with Robert Emmet Lunney’s evil Salesman is developed further with creep execution. While the practical effects and makeup are welcomed debatably other effects are unnecessary, The Exorcist seems to work best when its focused on the characters and subtler moments rather than spectacle.

Writer David Grimm delivers a note worthy twist which connects it to the novel and subsequently the film. Alan Ruck’s Henry Rance get more too do here and is key in revealing Geena Davis’ Angela to be Regan MacNeil, also Sharon Gless appears briefly as Chris MacNeil. Its a chilling and dramatically weighty episode, there’s nothing worse than gnarly demon feet on your chest, recommend.

Ash vs Evil Dead*** This review may contain we’re going to get you spoilers ***

After picking up a woman at a bar and banging her from behind Ash gets a warning reminding him of an evil he encountered 30 years ago. With the book of dead in his possession he realises he may have to face up to a little mistake and save his town.

In terms of cult horror nostalgia Ash versus the Evil Dead captures the tone of the films perfectly thanks to Sam Raimi’s foundation setting direction of the debut episode El Jefe.

Raimi offers floating P.O.V forest shots, blood, gore, twisted heads and demonic voices within the first 12 minutes. Later there’s Vaule Stop stockroom action with a maniac toy doll and flashback exposition using the first two films. Raimi throws in more floating P.O.V shots this time in a car park, there’s creepy demon faces in a diner, a Lucio Fulci eye tribute and Lucy Lawless for good measure. To top the episode off a cop investigates the odd occurrences and Ash teams up with two co- workers to take on a demon in an action packed caravan showdown.

Bruce Campbell is outstanding and intriguingly expands the character of aged Ash Williams. Written by Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy the first episode’s production values are high, many of the effects are first rate, the horror delivers scares and the comedy is on sleazy point.

As one of newest batch of film properties becoming TV shows this encapsulates the essence of the Evil Dead, basically it’s a chainsaw-handed, reluctant demon hunter fan’s dream.

narcosA chronicled look at the criminal activity and many sides of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

Intriguing, like watching the 2005 documentary Cocaine episodes 1,2 and 3 Viva la Coca, An Honest Citizen, Leo and Ze respectively mixed with Scarface. With some genuine photos and footage of the day briefly inserted into episodes you get reminded that what you’re watching is a good rendition of what happened. As the story unfolds you get a sense of the many viewpoints and different levels of both the government and Narcos. The series depicts the Colombian drug cartels power and gives a sense of its reach across the globe.

There are great performances from a relatively unknown but stellar cast including Wagner Moura (Elite Squad) as Pablo Escobar. Boyd Holbrook (Run All Night) whose resemblance to the real Steve Murphy is uncanny and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) Narcos exceed expectations.

On the backdrop of the finely recreated late 70s, 80s and 90s it’s violent, tension filled and fuelled with emotion. While Miami Vice was fiction and ripping stories from the headlines it showed the effects of the drugs on the streets. This shows semi-factually to an extent through dramatisation how they got there and just how characters are a shade of grey. While the accents may not be perfect each fast paced episode is well written, has great production values and with a shot on location feel it gives the proceedings weight.

It’s certainly one to watch driven by its true life subject matter and an inevitable second series.

The second season, spends much more time with Escobar, is more of a manhunt as Pablo’s empire falls apart and there is less of Murphy’s narration and the DEA. You see the effect on the families and anyone involved. It has the same on location feel and production values remain as it remains 90’s setting to a predestined conclusion.

The third series follows the Cali cartel and is of the same high quality set on the backdrop of the 90’s Clinton administration. Violence, corruption aplenty as two new DEA agents are assisted by the Cali family head of security. Emotional at times season 3 ticks all the boxes. By default Pablo is not present and actor Boyd Holbrook doesn’t return however Pedro Pascal does (in a fictional hybrid of real life people) as Pena once again. Packed with faces from season 1 and 2 the acting and production is first rate, notable are Pepe Rapazote in an intense small role as Jose and Edward James Olmos cameos. The season closes opening the way for a Mexican set 4th season. Highly recommend.

From Dusk Till Dawn season 2Three months after freeing Santanico from the Titty Twister, the Gecko Brothers are separately on the run; Seth and Kate are in Mexico; Richie and Santanico plot vengeance on the Culebra.

Opening Night, the first episode of the second season, continues with the spirit of the first season and encapsulates some of the DNA of the film. While some of the CGI effects fall short Greg Nicotero’s (Day of the Dead, The Walking Dead) practical makeup effects still are outstanding. Directed by Robert Rodriguez this series is no longer chained to the narrative of the film like the first season adaption, episode 1 is in fresh uncharted territory.

The main characters Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Kate (Madison Davenport) hiding in Mexico and Richie (Zane Holtz) and Santanico (Eiza González) planning an assault on the Nine Lords starting with a robbery told with a flash forward and flashback. Rodriguez’s direction is as sharp as ever and the atmosphere is dark and rich with reds. Freddie’s (Jesse Garcia) turns up in latter half and Wilmer Valderrama’s Carlos appears briefly. There is also an expanded Santánico Pandemonium back-story with flashbacks that now include a new character Malvado who sports a long-coat made of human faces played by Esai Morales.

Actor Danny Trejo from the film returns as a new character, Razor Charlie, with an introduction reminiscent of Creepshow 2’s Old Chief Wooden head story, his appearance topping this episode off for fans.

Fear-the-Walking-Dead-posterA divorced male teacher, with his new partner a female guidance counsellor and her children find themselves in the opening stages of a zombie apocalypse.

AMC’s original series Fear the Walking Dead takes us back prior to the outbreak that began with award winning Walking Dead. After an excellently executed bloody and gnarly opening in a crack house church where a drug addict (the son of Madison Clark) escapes a zombie attack. It then moves to everyday life slowly unravelling reminiscent of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and Diary of the Dead’s news footage of the reanimating dead.

There’s plenty of suspense and atmosphere in the first episode, the pacing is spot on with a thought out introduction to the dysfunctional and estranged family. The family drama feel natural and unforced thanks to some attention to detail, effective writing by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, Adam Davidson’s direction and solid acting. Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa and Kim Dickens as Madison Clark are particularly notable. With a drug hit subplot, murder, shootings, a hit and run and undead attacks there’s plenty going on but not at the expense of the characterisations.

The first pilot episode attempts to avoid the tropes/clichés but given the subject matter its unavoidable, hopefully going forward it doesn’t recycle too many elements of its predecessor nor follow its meandering footsteps.

The Los Angeles setting gives it scope, a fresh feel and like its predecessor it benefits from an on location shoot. Hopefully it’ll retain its grounded feel. Those wanting a fast paced ride or running zombies maybe disappointed. However for the old-school zombie fans it’s creepy, suspenseful, moody and engrossing.