Just shy of two weeks ago, I did a summary post of my thoughts and feelings of Naruto as a first time sitting down to just watch it all. I am pleased to say that in less than a month, I’ve finished one season – Yeah, yeah, I know, some of you are laughing at that child’s play, I struggle to binge watch. Anyway, now that I’ve completed season 1, here are my thoughts of the series so far.
Ok, one more post-spooky-season horror review, I’ve just sat and binged another of Netflix’s later efforts, and it’s worthy of discussion. This series tells the tale of a family of house flippers looking to land their biggest payday, one final renovation project before they settle in to an easy life, but as the narrative of their future tells us, we know they never got that far, and everything has fallen apart. (more…)
I may have mentioned I’m a bit of a late-to-the-party Avatar fan, I marathon’d the entire series a few years ago, and it’s become something of a node, a go-to point in my creative reference library whenever I create something fantasy. It’s an off-piste and indirect approach to the classical westernised fantasy of elves and dragons that Tolkien drew together from Arthurian, Norse, and Christian mythologies. The series embraced eastern viewpoints and philosophies, the notions of household and local gods or spirits, the Qi-like elements of elemental bending, and with it brought profoundly human elements, and rich political analogues.
That’s a tall order for a kids show! (more…)
The gates of Babylon 5 opening places humanity firmly in the middle of the space-faring races. No longer completely green around the gills, they’ve helped topple one mad genocidal force, narrowly avoided genocide in mysterious circumstances, and are now seeking to help forge peace among the disparate races and factions of the galaxy.
Naturally as creators, we create based on what we know, so aliens in B5 are broadly based on human cultures or some animal traits given sapience – more on them next week – but there are particular features of humanity that distinguish them from any other species, often commented on by main alien characters in awe, deference, disbelief, or disgust. Today I’ll be looking at what makes humans so special. (more…)
Why do people always ask “Star Trek or Star Wars”? That’s a question that overlooks some real tyrants of the sci-fi scene and there are more than enough of us who can rattle off a few dozen series, films, perhaps books, and even computer games (why not, it’s a valid art form) that equal or exceed them both for quality.
Over the next few weeks I want to take this stage to showcase one of the titans of science fiction and a personal favourite, J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5, addressing its depth, its cultural impact, its influence on sci-fi that followed, and beginning today with a quick primer on exactly what it is we’re discussing. (more…)
Possibly the third. One of the most binged TV series in the world has been lauded across the board, acting, story, direction, cinematography, it’s characters and use of foreshadowing, and while it’s not to everyone’s tastes it had me gripped season after season.
For those of you unfamiliar, Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston (formerly of Malcolm in the Middle) as a chemistry teacher whose lung cancer diagnosis drives him into New Mexico’s thriving meth amphetamine industry, and uses his knowledge of science to corner the market, committing to the life of crime as he conquers drug lords at every level, reaching greater heights of cunning, ruthlessness, and aggression. It’s a story of family torn apart by lies, and finding the limits of family bonds before a man’s growing inhumanity can tear them apart.
I took it upon myself to start rewatching the whole thing again from episode one after finding out that Anthony Hopkins had marathoned the series and sent an email to Cranston, saying his performance as Walter White was some of the best acting he’d ever seen. I wanted to remind myself of the powerful performances that could drive one of cinema’s greatest names to hail a TV show as a masterclass in the artform, and as I approach the end of season two I find I’m uncovering more and more after three years of studying film and television from the perspective of a critic than I could have ever noticed before.
Some warnings: The first is that there will be spoilers, but seriously it’s been years so I think we’re over it now. Plus if you’re one of our regular readers you know we try and keep things family friendly around here, this is not a family friendly show.
There are a lot of stories to take into account here. The battle with cancer plays a much bigger role than most people seem to appreciate, fear and desperation are incredible driving factors that push the family dynamics to extremes. It shows most obviously in such instances as Walter feigning a mental breakdown to cover his criminal activities, or the intervention scene where Skyler and Walter Jr confront him about his choice to not seek treatment, but there are indescribable little moments, micro-expressions and carefully measured speech express a great deal, it’s that level of acting that’s a big driving force in the show.
Between Walter and his partner in literal crime Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) there’s a strange father and son bond, as shared experiences and little teaching moments take them from a strained mutual-distrust to a relationship stronger than they share with their own son and father respectively. We see it all, as Walter’s son distances himself further and further as the family unit collapses, and Jesse’s own over-burdened parents finally give in to the strain of his dangerous lifestyle.
Newest revelation, the parallels we see drawn between the war on drugs, and the effects of a real war. Walter’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader sees nightmarish acts and truly horrendous things as a member of the DEA, begins to suffer the effects of PTSD, and we watch as his life unravels beneath the tough-guy-cop persona he has built for himself.
I’m a fan of villains. This story shows us that a villain is not born, it is made, and it tells us this story repeatedly. In those series featuring Gustavo Fring we also come to realise that the only thing preventing criminality from conquering everything is itself, cutthroat competition, backstabbing and the inability to trust one another.
And here in lies the beauty of Breaking Bad, I’m still not entirely sure which watch-through I’m on, it’s definitely not more than three at this point, and still I’m uncovering more and more. It delivers something new to everyone who watches it, and as someone who has changed so too does my experience change. Quality is quality of course, and it shines through, and I find myself suddenly very keen to watch Better Call Saul, the prequel spinoff featuring the crooked lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk, currently pending a third season next year. I feel like I should wait until season three starts so that I can binge two seasons and ween myself off on the third.
Netflix’s model of bringing out an entire series of episodes simultaneously really makes the format a challenger to cinema and the feature-length film, their continued support of the binge-watch model that has become our new viewing habit has made it worth the effort of creating such vast epics as these, especially when titans of cinema like Anthony Hopkins start to sit up and take notice.
Netflix just keep proving, not just validity, but dominance in the media market. Is it still appropriate to call it a TV show any more if the best examples are no longer on television?
Further to their expanding catalogue of Marvel properties, part of an already popular collection of original series boxsets like House of Cards, BoJack Horseman and Orange is the New Black, introducing the horror series that follows a group of young boys in 1980’s Indiana as they search for their missing friend, instead discovering a young girl with strange powers, who plunges them into the middle of a supernatural plot. (more…)
It’s good to be bad… That’s the motto of the game, as we delve deeper into another dungeon game, but this time – Instead of defeating enemies in the dungeons, we are the bad guys. We’re running our own dungeons, from Imps and Demon Spawn to the simple Fly and the legendary Horned Reaper, we’re playing the classic Bullfrog dungeon building title, Dungeon Keeper. Join Timlah through this new Let’s Play series!
It’s a little late to the game to be reviewing a series that’s fast approaching twenty years old, but I only watched it (for the second time) quite recently during a fit of serious nostalgia, but despite the years of superior special effects and quality drama Farscape bears the test of time. It’s a real testament to the staying power of practical effects and good writing that the Jim Henson company’s sci-fi series (led by creator Rockne S’ O’Bannon and EP Brian Henson) is still of excellent quality today. (more…)
A life of freedom upon the open sea is a dream for some, but it is not a vocation without perils. Out there where men are free, they can be free of oppression, taxation, and the rule of land, to pursue whatever desires of conquest and greed they please, so long as they’re happy to also be at the mercy of others who want to do much the same thing.
Here we have assembled a gathering of the most terrible captains, wicked crews and vicious looters, pillagers and ravagers known to these seas or any others. Mutinous scoundrels of history and fantasy, gathered one and all in this week’s Top 10. (more…)