Category Archives: TV

Loki Season 1 (2021) Review

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Loki Season 1

Cast:
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ravonna Renslayer
Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15
Eugene Cordero as Casey
Tara Strong voices Miss Minutes
Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius
Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie
Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20
Jack Veal as Kid Loki
DeObia Oparei as Boastful Loki
Richard E. Grant as Classic Loki
Jonathan Majors as He Who Remains
Director:
Kate Herron
Creator: Michael Waldron

Loki, the God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston), steps out of his brother’s shadow to embark on an adventure that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.”

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Loki was yet another show from the MCU which would be releasing on Disney+. Out of the shows that Marvel initially announced, I was wondering about what the point of this one was, especially after Loki had his death in the opening of Avengers: Infinity War. From the trailers I reckoned that it would be just filling the gap of the Loki who disappeared with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, and would generally just consist of him getting into shenanigans involving time periods. Some of that was true, but it ended up being a lot different than I thought it would be.

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There’s some aspects of the show worth experiencing for yourself, so I’ll try to be light with spoilers and details. Loki starts out with a whole lot of worldbuilding in the first episode with the TVA, an organisation that preserves the current timeline, and I thought it was quite interesting learning about all this. Like with WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki also explores its lead character and the show is character focused. The lead character certainly goes through a change, even when it’s picking up with the Loki from 2012’s The Avengers. The show is definitely slower paced and for some that might get a bit dull. However I appreciated the slower pace and what it was going for. There are some action scenes in the show but it never feels like it is reliant on it. It does take a while to get into what the story is really about, the first couple of episodes takes its time to develop things and while I was invested, I know that some will find that its just meandering. After the first three episodes though I think you’ll get into it. There is some humour but unlike some other MCU projects it doesn’t interrupt anything and actually works well for the tone of the show.

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Usually the finale is where the MCU shows have an issue. WandaVision changed from what it was trying to do and just devolves into a very typical Marvel climax with large special effects. The Falcon and Winter Soldier was more consistent but the way the finale played out ended up highlighting the issues that the entire show had. However, Loki actually nails the ending quite well. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t end with a traditional climax, and once again I really appreciate that. It is staying true to itself and being more about the story and characters rather than just ticking another box in the Marvel formula. I will say this however, unlike the other two shows, it ends in a cliff-hanger. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say this since its been announced that Loki has been renewed for a second season. Some character arcs haven’t been quite completed and story plotlines weren’t quite fully resolved, as a result some aspects feel less satisfying compared to the other Marvel shows because they haven’t been finalised yet. So much critical stuff happens in the last episode that I’m surprised that it was happened in this show as opposed to one of the bigger Marvel movies. I know that not everyone watches the MCU shows, even people who watch the movies, and some will probably look over Loki because it seems like a one off show just about Loki. However for what it’s worth I think the show is worth watching if only because of the roll on effect it will have on the other movies and shows. In terms of credits scenes, surprisingly there’s only one in episode 4, and just a little tease in episode 6, which are worth watching.

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The cast were also great in their parts. As expected, Tom Hiddleston reprises his role of Loki. Not only does he get to have a lot of fun as Loki, but Loki goes through a change of his own over the course of the show. To put this in context, this is the Loki from The Avengers (2012) finding out what happens to him (including his death in Infinity War). So he goes through his own change and development, like the lead characters in the previous Marvel shows. However, there’s something even more fascinating about a character like Loki going through the change, and this show makes me like Loki more as a character. Sophia Di Martino plays a vital character named Sylvie, and she’s great in her part too. Her onscreen dynamic with Loki was great to see, especially considering the connection the two of them have (won’t get into it more than that). Another notable character is that of an agent of the TVA named Mobius played by Owen Wilson, and this might actually be one of my favourite roles and performances from Wilson. He has great chemistry with Hiddleston and I loved seeing the two of them interacting, especially in the earlier episodes. Other supporting actors with the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Wunmi Mosaku are also good in their parts. There are two guest performers in this who stand out, both of them are particularly great in their screentime. The one actor whose name I can mention is Richard E. Grant, and while I won’t go into what his role is, he pretty much stole the entire episode that he was in with his performance. The second performer is a critical role, and who makes me very excited for what’s to come next in the other movies and shows.

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This show is directed by Kate Herron, and she’s done a great job with it all. The show is visually striking and nothing like what the MCU has done before. The set designs, environments and CGI are great (the look of the TVA alone was immediately distinct), those and the cinematography came together to form a gorgeous looking show. As said previously, there is action here and to be honest they aren’t that spectacular. They usually just consist of Loki and other characters involved with hand to hand combat with maybe some weapons. They are filmed okay and are solid enough, they are good enough for the purpose of the show. There is one large set piece involving a lot of CGI in one of the later episodes but even that’s handled very well. Another standout is the score from Natalie Holt, which is incredibly distinct and really gives the show a unique tone and feel. One of my favourite scores from the MCU.

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Loki has ended up being one of my favourite instalments in the MCU. As someone who almost begrudgingly likes some of the MCU projects, I was thoroughly surprised by it. While it is still in the MCU, it remained true to itself and didn’t feel too constrained by some of the formula that some of the movies and shows have to follow. The performances were all solid, the direction was great, and I was invested with the story and characters. If you are interested in the MCU I think it is worth checking out.

Mr. Robot Season 4 (2019) Review

Mr. Robot - Season 4

Mr. Robot Season 4

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Elliot Villar as Fernando Vera
Ashlie Atkinson as Janice
Creator: Sam Esmail

Set during the 2015 Christmas holiday, the fast-paced season will be one filled with answers, hacking and blood. Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) are getting back to work and down a path that could prove endless. But have they crossed a line?

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Mr. Robot was already a fantastic show, Season 1 was a great start, Season 2 was solid while having its issues, and Season 3 took the show to new heights. However, much of how a show is eventually perceived depends on how well it finalises its story and characters at the end. With that being said, Season 4 is not only possibly the best season of the whole show, it’s one of the most memorable and satisfying conclusions I’ve seen to a TV show.

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It goes without saying, but there is a spoiler warning for the previous seasons leading up to this one in this review. An interesting aspect to note is that the whole show is stuck in 2015, this season picks up with having only advanced to just before Christmas 2015. As America recovers from the Five/Nine Hack, the focus of the narrative shifts to a somewhat heroic Elliot as he sets his sights on taking down Whiterose and her Dark Army. The show ups its game to deliver one very eventful season, one that raises the stakes for every character whilst delivering some of the best television in recent years. Season 4 really does feels like a true send-up of the first season everyone fell in love with, and everything that first season promised the show could be is what the final season is. Mr. Robot’s final season can be best described as incredibly emotional and heartbreaking; the opening moments of its first episode really does establish how much of a gut punch the whole season is. Season 4 runs for 13 episodes, making it the longest in the show’s history, and unlike say season 2, its time is not put to waste. I blasted through the episodes back-to-back, it was incredibly riveting and intense, even the slower paced episodes worked appropriately for the story and characters. As said previously, the main drive of this season is Mr. Robot taking down Whiterose, however there’s also plenty of other things happening at the same time. For example, there are episodes that focus heavily on the relationship between Elliot and Mr. Robot, which shows them more closely aligned in their goals compared to the past couple of seasons. This new dynamic is interesting and the writing definitely takes advantage of that, for instance, the narration to the audience that was done by Elliot is mostly done by Mr. Robot in this season. Additionally, as the season progresses, a lot of the sub-plots from the past and present interweave with Elliot’s journey. I won’t give too much away for fear of spoilers but suffice to say the final few episodes turn everything we’ve learnt up until this point completely on its head, delivering a shocking couple of plot twists to round out a thrilling and intense final season. Even on its last season, there are plenty of surprises that a lot of audiences won’t have expected. These plot twists are so good that it actually paints the entirety of Mr Robot’s early seasons in a completely different shade and I’m sure this will be a show that will be completely different to watch a second time through.

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The acting from everyone as usual is fantastic. Rami Malek and Christian Slater remain as brilliant as ever, and the change in their dynamic will be a treat for many. Rami Malek has always owned his role as Elliot Alderson but in this season in particular, he really shows his diversity and range with an absolutely stunning performance. There is particularly one episode (if you watch the episode you already know which one) in which Elliot learns something significant, and Malek’s performance is nothing short of spectacular and heartbreaking. This season also gives Christian Slater a lot more material than he has had since the first season. Slater is excellent in the role of Mr Robot, and his shift in character this season makes him much more intriguing than ever before. Many of the other actors playing the major roles of Price, Whiterose, Darlene and Dom all bring their A-game here and are given enough screen time to really flesh out their characters. Some characters get more attention than others, for example I would’ve liked to have seen more of Tyrell Wellick, but on the whole everyone’s stories were handled well, and as usual they were performed greatly. Outside of the main cast, one of the standout performers was Elliot Villar as the character of Vera. Vera had a small supporting role in the first season before he disappears from much of the show, only to return for this season. While he has a smaller role in this season, he’s great in his scenes, and especially shines in one particularly significant episode.

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All 13 episodes of this season are excellently directed by Sam Esmail, Mr Robot is on a technical level is in a league of its own when it comes to tv shows. The cinematography and visuals remain outstanding, and the sound design and score are top notch as ever, with composer Mac Quayle as usual somehow managing to top his work with every season. In its third and fourth seasons, the show has taken its stylistic ambitions to new heights. In season 3 it has a whole episode that was filmed and edited to seem as if it was taking place in a long, continuous single shot that darted and weaved in and around a massive skyscraper. I won’t go into season four’s own stylistic achievement of filmmaking, but just know that it only features two lines in the entire episode, and considering the stuff that happens in that particular episode, it’s incredibly impressive that that pulled it off.

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Mr. Robot’s fourth and final season is nothing short of outstanding, not only managing to produce its best season yet, but also able to wrap up the storylines and characters in such an impactful and satisfying way, while providing so many unexpected surprises throughout. Everything from the writing, directing and acting is at the show’s best. If you loved Mr. Robot from the past few seasons, I think you’ll really love how the final season turned out.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) TV Review

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon
Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier/White Wolf
Wyatt Russell as John Walker/Captain America
Erin Kellyman as Karli Morgenthau
Danny Ramirez as Joaquin Torres
Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc
Adepero Oduye as Sarah Wilson
Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter
Florence Kasumba as Ayo
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Director: Kari Skogland

Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) are a mismatched duo who team up for a global adventure that will test their survival skills — as well as their patience.

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Following immediately onwards after WandaVision, Disney and Marvel released their next MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I didn’t know what the plot was about, I just knew it was going to involve Falcon and the Winter Soldier teaming up to deal with something, simple enough. Overall I liked it, much more than I was expecting to, even if looking back on it there are at least a couple of notable issues.

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There are going to be a lot of comparisons between WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier a number of times in this review. With regard to overall quality though, WandaVision has higher highs and does more special things, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is more consistently good and generally doesn’t really have a notable drop in quality throughout. Compared to WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is much shorter at 6 episodes instead of 9. However, each episode also lasts between 50 to 60 minutes. That means that you have enough in each episode, so you actually feel like things are happening. There are no points where you feel cheated when an episode cuts to credits. To a degree, it does feel like a Marvel movie just at 3 times the length. So in a way like Wandavision, it’s a show that really could’ve benefited from having all the episodes released all at once and watching a number of them at a time, but in a different way. For WandaVision, it is because the episodes are short and for Falcon and Winter Soldier, it’s because they are all part of this one story and so they all felt continuous (not to mention every episode follows on directly from where the previous episode finished). That could lead to the question of “why didn’t they just make it a movie?”. However, if it was a movie it wouldn’t have gotten into much depth as it did, whether it be the plot, the characters, or the themes. The plot was stretched nicely across all 6 episodes, something is always happening, and it also makes sure to slow down for important character moments and development. The plot had me quite invested, every week I was looking forward to watching the next episode of the show.

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The first episode is really more setting the stage of things to come, with a glimpse of the antagonists, and establishing the current lives of the lead characters. After that point though, it really picks up, and you’re locked in with this story. It doesn’t do anything special necessarily as far as the MCU goes, it’s mostly familiar territory. Many of the twists weren’t that surprising, but I learned to not place too much stock or anticipation into those twists and just follow the story for what it was. There are some surprise appearances from other MCU characters that actually gelled well with the story instead of just being there to remind you that they exist. The actual conclusion as to be expected is another MCU climax, but this actually feels in line with the rest of the show. Something worth noting about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that it actually touches on topics. including politics and racism. The results are a bit of a mixed bag (see the Flag Smashers for more on that), and quite often it just dances around the politics. There are some moments where it does work, mostly when they stop and actually be direct about it instead of being vague. Looking at the series as a whole, it doesn’t really say anything meaningful by the end, and its own politics is pretty confused. Generally, it didn’t bother me and again some parts were done well, it’s just something where you notice more issues the more you think deeply about it. The tone is a little over the place, at times quite dark, and at times very humorous. It’s not terrible but it is noticeable from time to time. I am actually curious to see where many of the characters and the plot continues on from here. Just so you know, the last two episodes have mid credits scenes that are worth sticking around for (or fast forwarding to at least).

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The acting from the cast is quite strong. First you have Anthony Mackie as Falcon/Sam Wilson, and Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes, both of whom are showcased much better here than in their past film appearances, and you get to learn much more about them. In the first episode alone, you get to see more of their lives and it does a great job at showing you that these characters have a lot more to them than just being the sidekicks of Steve Rodgers. With Sam Wilson you get to learn about him and his family life, and you also see his conflict after the end of Endgame in which Steve Rodgers gave him the Captain America shield. It’s in the first episode so it’s not much of spoilers, but he gives up the shield, and as a result someone else is made Captain America. You can probably tell what happens with him by the end of the season, but I think it was a great arc for him, and it was probably the show’s strongest aspect. I liked him much more as a character after seeing him in this show, and I’m actually looking forward to his next appearance. As for Bucky Barnes, you also learn more about him as a person. You actually see that he’s still haunted from being the Winter Soldier and trying to make amends, at the same time he has much more personality now beyond just being ex-Winter Soldier. I also liked Bucky much more as a character after this show. Mackie and Stan play off each other quite well. They have the quips and banter that you would expect in an MCU project, but by the end of the show, you do buy the friendship between the two characters.

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Daniel Bruhl returns to the role of Zemo from his last appearance in Captain America: Civil War. Zemo in Civil War was a decent enough albeit underused villain, unique in just being a normal human without any powers but still being able to break apart the Avengers. Getting this out of the way, he’s not the villain of this series and he’s in a different sort of role. His dynamic and interactions with Sam and Bucky are great, and Zemo himself turns out to be an entertaining and interesting presence, especially with his mindset and perspective. He definitely steals just about every scene that he’s in. There’s definitely potential for him to have future appearances in other MCU projects, and I’m looking forward to them. Wyatt Russell plays John Walker (also known as US Agent in the comics), the new Captain America, who is surprisingly one of the most interesting characters in this show. While at first it seemed like the show would have him as just Evil Captain America or something else cartoonish, this show actually shows him as a complicated person and more someone who is not right for the role rather than being the absolute worst. Russell plays the character quite well, and in the hands in a lesser actor he could’ve come across as rather 2 dimensional. I’m interested to see more of him in the future too. Emily VanCamp also returns as Sharon Carter from the previous two Captain America movies. She’s not in this show a ton, but enough to play an important part. She was a decent inclusion, and it was nice to see her actually be somewhat relevant to the plot, interested to see what role Carter plays next in the MCU.

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The biggest standout problem with the show is the villains. The villains are a group called the Flag Smashers, and here they are yet another one of those villains who have good intentions, but use bad methods to do them, Disney particularly likes using that trope a lot. Honestly for the first few episodes I thought there was going to be some twist in which it turns out that they aren’t really the main villains of the show but no, they’re the antagonists after all. The Flag Smashers don’t have a clearly defined ideology, just vaguely leftist and anti-government. It honestly does feel like the writers were trying to position them as the Antifa stand-in (which doesn’t work on multiple levels never mind them not even being an organisation or group really). In the first episode, Sam’s military friend gives some exposition about what the Flag Smashers believe in, and it’s something about how they believe in a world without borders (which was written with the intention that this is somehow bad?). Literally the only thing about the Flag Smashers that are bad is just that they are violent and take their stance “too far”, it’s nothing inherently about their ideology. A lot of their actions especially towards the end of the show that result in the harm, death, or danger of innocent people seems very contrived and forced, and were just hard to buy. The random acts of violence really did feel like the writer’s wrote themselves into a corner by making their goals too reasonable and so just added them in just to make sure that we don’t like them too much. Erin Kellyman plays Karli, the leader of the Flag Smashers, she does perform the role quite well and the character did seem to have some complexity and conflict especially with the interactions with Sam in the middle part of the season. However, she and the rest of the Flag Smashers are kind of held back by the writing. I was willing to give them a pass for most of the season because I thought there would be some kind of further development in them or the plot, but when it got to the finale it was pretty clear that they weren’t going to change. By the end, the Flag Smashers were by far the weakest part of the show. As it turns out, supposedly a lot of their plot got re-written and edited because it originally revolved around a bio weapon or virus… and given COVID they changed it. It is quite unfortunate, because I’m pretty sure that keeping that aspect might’ve at least added some further depth or development to these characters that are meant to be the antagonists to the main characters.

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On the whole, the show is directed quite well, with Kari Skogland being the director for all the episodes. It is shot like a big budget Marvel movie, which was actually quite distracting when watching it at home on the small screen. The action sequences are great, and actually more intense than expected, certainly on the higher end of the PG-13 rating. Henry Jackman who composed the scores for the last two Captain America movies return to compose the score here, and once again its pretty good.

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There’s some faults to be seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier thinking back on it. Some of the themes and topics it doesn’t quite nail the landings on, and the main villains weren’t handled the best. However, on the whole I quite enjoyed the show. I enjoyed most of the characters and performances, I was engaged with the plot, and there were some thrilling and satisfying moments. With the ending, unlike WandaVision, it seems like the show could have another season. Whether it be through a second season, a different show, or a new movie, I’m looking forward to seeing the story and these characters progress further.

Mr. Robot (2016) Season 2 Review

Mr. Robot - Season 2

Mr Robot Season 2

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Carly Chaikin as Darlene Alderson
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Michael Cristofer as Phillip Price
Stephanie Corneliussen as Joanna Wellick
Grace Gummer as Dominique “Dom” DiPierro
BD Wong as Whiterose
Creator: Sam Esmail

Series 2 of Mr Robot follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) as he comes to terms with his mental health issues. Along with the other members of ‘fsociety’, he must cope with the hackers’ impact on Evil Corp.

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I loved the first season of Mr. Robot, its first season quickly had me hooked, so immediately afterwards I jumped to Season 2. I liked it quite a bit, however it doesn’t quite work as well as the first season. In fact I’ve noticed that for most people, season 2 is easily the worst of the 4 seasons. It had some visible flaws, but I liked it overall.

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Early disclosure: this review will contain spoilers for season 1, so I’m now more free to talk specifics. Season 2 starts off fairly soon after the end of the previous season. Elliot is now isolated away by himself as he’s coming to terms with his mental state (i.e. Mr. Robot being an personality of himself). Then there’s plenty of other multiple plotlines happening including Angela at her new job at E Corp, the members of fsociety after the hack, the FBI investigating, and plenty more. The writing is still mostly solid and I was invested throughout, even with its slower moments. It is a darker season for the show and continues its delving into interesting ideas. It shows that there’s plenty of story left to be told in further seasons after the end of the first season. It was also quite interesting to watch how the world reacts to the big hack at the end of the last season. The first season was pretty straightforward. With season 2, it feels like there’s so much going on while not much is actually happening, if that makes any sense. I’ll dedicate Elliot’s story for a whole paragraph because there’s a lot to get into there. The rest of the plotlines are a bit all over the place, and they don’t always progress a considerable amount. Some bits are interesting like the worldbuilding, for example we get to learn more about Whiterose and The Dark Army. At the same time other aspects aren’t so great, especially when it comes to focus. For example, the show even spends so much time with Tyrell Wellick’s wife. They easily could’ve reduced the amount of screentime on that plotline, and having watched the whole show, I still don’t know why it was as prominent as it was. Even that one plotline aside, they all feel restrained and held back. Not only are there so many storylines and characters in this season, but they are mostly separated from each other, which didn’t do the season any favours. In season 1 their stories are interwoven, and they are always interacting with each other. All these storylines being separate made the season feel disjointed. Something clear is that this is a season of mystery building, with many questions floating around. What happened to Elliot’s 3-day blackout? Where is Tyrell Wellick? What is this phase 2 that’s being talked about? It really does seem determined to not give the audience answers right away, like show creator Sam Esmail deliberately held back a lot of the answers towards the end of the season.  So you’d think that Season 2 would hopefully reveal something significant by the end. Unfortunately without getting into it too much, there’s not a lot of answers you get. There’s maybe one reveal that matters, the rest of the reveals were underwhelming, predictable, we don’t care about them, or we still don’t know the answers yet. A lot of the show spent more time asking new questions than giving answers to questions that we had from the last season. It does get the vibe of stalling, especially considering how well tuned the rest of the seasons are.

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A large reason of why there’s issues with this season is how they handled Elliot’s plotline. Elliot is keeping himself isolated while he deals with his multiple personality issue with Mr. Robot, and there’s a mental battle between the two as the former is trying to get rid of the latter. Something to note is that neither of them are in this season as much as they were in the first season. Elliot and Robot are far too removed from the rest of the cast for far too long. Keeping the main characters separated from the rest of the cast for the first half of the season created a new dynamic status quo that I was happy to roll with for the first 2-3 episodes, but after that you really feel the greatly reduced pace of the narrative. This particular story arc takes place over 7 episodes, over half of the season. Now there is a twist that does explain things, but it does link into something from season 1 which is so inconsequential to the overall story. It actually feels something of a waste of time looking back at it. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. This plotline is meant to be more of a character study for both characters. I really liked their interactions, and I enjoyed some of the interactions he made with some of the introduced supporting characters. However it just wasn’t handled the best.

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Something that hadn’t changed between the seasons of Mr. Robot was that the acting remains great as always. Rami Malek is once again excellent as Elliot Alderson, and gets plenty of time to shine. Christian Slater is also again really good as Mr. Robot, there’s a mental battle between him and Elliot and that’s really the driving force for the first half of the season (if there is one). Some characters from season 1 gets to have more to do in this season. Darlene Alderson played by Carly Chaikin (recently revealed as Elliot’s brother towards the end of the last season) is now the leader of fsociety now that Elliot isolated himself. Angela Moss played by Portia Doubleday has a more interesting role as she now finds herself working at E Corp. Two new characters who were briefly in the last season also get more presence here. One of them is Phillip Price played by Michael Cristofer, the CEO of E Corp. The other is played by BD Wong, who is Whiterose, the leader of the shadowy hacking group the Dark Army, who also happens to be China’s Minister of State Security. Both characters and performances are great and scene-stealing, and Whiterose is a particularly intriguing character. A new character to this series is Grace Gummer as Dominique DiPierro, an FBI agent investigating the E Corp hack. This plotline gives the perspective from the FBI, which is to be expected but DiPerro’s character and her performance makes it feel more than just an obligatory procedural. Gummer does a great job at making her character feel as isolated from the rest of society as Elliot, just on the other side of the law. Additionally, there’s other supporting characters who shine even with less screentime, mainly Joey Badass and Craig Robinson during Elliot’s plotline.

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Mr. Robot is still fantastic on a technical level, it’s shot incredibly well and has a very distinct style and a unique look. The score from Mac Quayle is still amazing and the sound design is effective. The editing choices continue to be great, it even goes further psychological, especially now that it’s established that Elliot is an unreliable narrator. The film really takes advantage of this greatly to result in some fantastic sequences. Speaking of unreliable narrator, the narration from Elliot to us, his imaginary friend, is here again, and once again it’s handled well.

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Mr. Robot Season 2 for sure has some issues, mainly with the writing. The attempt to slow the story down and ask more questions, whether it be to stall or to genuinely build intrigue, doesn’t quite work effectively. With that said, the acting and characters are fantastic, on a technical level it is perfect, and as someone who was hooked on the first season, I was interested to see where the story would go next. Out of the 4 seasons it’s my least favourite but it’s still really good, and no doubt if I rewatched it would probably have a better opinion of it. If you really liked the first season, you’d probably be able to get through it even if you have issues. However if you just got through the first season of the show, and you’re not hooked yet and hope that season 2 will be the point where it clicks for you, unfortunately you might have to wait till season 3 for that.

Mr. Robot Season 1 (2015) Review

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Mr Robot Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Christian Slater as Mr. Robot
Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss
Carly Chaikin as Darlene
Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick
Michel Gill as Gideon Goddard
Creator: Sam Esmail

Elliot (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer suffering from anxiety, works for a corporation and hacks felons by night. Panic strikes him after Mr Robot (Christian Slater), a cryptic anarchist, recruits him to ruin his company.

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I had heard of Mr. Robot for the longest time, the show started back in 2015 and I just knew that it involved hacking. A couple of years after the show finished in 2019, I finally checked it out, and watched it all within exactly one month. I decided to wait to review the show only after watching the whole series, which turned out to be the best decision. Mr. Robot was fantastic and has now positioned itself as one of my all-time favourite TV shows. As for Season 1, it’s really great, and gets you invested in the show quickly.

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I do think it’s best going into Mr. Robot not knowing a whole lot about it, so really you could just jump into the show immediately. The pilot/first episode is among the best first episodes of a show I’ve seen. It establishes the setting, the situation, the style of the show, the tone, and most importantly the main character. It’s incredibly well written throughout, it’s engaging, the dialogue is great, and it is paced well. The storytelling was great throughout, over time presenting you with information and details that you might not understand straight away, and revealing pieces around it before you figure it out. It’s really not a show you have on in the background, it’s a show that deserves a lot of your attention and energy. It’s also very unpredictable with plenty of twists, and has moments where it gets weird (to vaguely put it). There’s a lot of great worldbuilding on display too. On paper the plot just sounds like it’s about a hacker group (named fsociety) hacking and taking a corporation down (named E Corp, also referred to as Evil Corp by the main character). While that’s part of it, it’s so much more than that. There’s a lot of complexity to it, and even moral ambiguity surprisingly. It’s not all plot focused, it does have some slower moments to add some depth to the characters, which really does elevate things a lot a lot. As I said earlier, the show does involve hacking. There are plenty of movies and shows about hacking and they seem far fetched and unrealistic. Here though it’s actually somewhat accurate to real life, at the very least in contrast to other representations of hacking in pop culture. While the hacking is more realistic, it still manages to be incredibly thrilling in some sequences. With that said, the hacking is a plot device and isn’t what makes the show. It’s not a show purely about hacking, it’s about lead character Elliot and his life, his struggles and the story that surrounds him. It’s a character driven psychological thriller with a technology theme to it. It is a very dark show and isn’t very cheerful, it doesn’t have many light moments, however at the same time it remains an entertaining show. It’s also more complex than you initially think it is at first, and it is very thought provoking. There are some revelations that make you look back at the story and characters in different ways (which will be frequent for the whole series). With that said, there are still plenty of more things that needed to be answered especially at the very end, but just so you know, the next few seasons will give all those answers to you, so stick with it.

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The acting is great all around. Rami Malek plays the lead character Elliot Alderson and this has to be the best performance that I’ve seen from him, portraying the character incredibly well. The character himself is great. Elliot also a very easy protagonist to follow and is very compelling, and we enter the world through his eyes. We can really relate to his feeling and awkward interactions. By day Elliot is a socially awkward coder working for a cybersecurity company, but night he’s a morphine addict who hacks people’s lives, taking down paedophiles and drug dealers. That first episode really captures the essence of him really well, and at the very least, it does a great job at hooking you into the show even just for his character. On a performance level too, Rami Malek is a powerhouse. Whether he’s performing rambling and emotional internal monologues or having larger dramatic moments, he’s fantastic. His range and nuance contributed to Elliot being likable. Even some of the way he delivered some lines – even when they are a little stilted – they added to the character and story. Another prominent character is Mr. Robot, the anarchist who brings Elliot into his hacker group named fsociety to take on E(vil) Corp. The character is played by Christian Slater, and he is quite a strong screen presence, bringing such an energy to the role, and is really entertaining to watch. Mr. Robot contrasts heavily from Elliot as a character, and it is compelling to watch the two of them interact on screen. Those are really the two main actors. There’s also other performances and characters from which includes Portia Doubleday as Angela Moss (Elliot’s childhood friend), Carly Chaikin as Darlene (one of the hackers at fsociety), and Martin Wallström as Tyrell Wellick (Senior Vice President at E Corp). Those performances and characters are good and interesting, but a lot of these supporting characters really get more chances to shine in the following seasons. With that said, they are written interestingly enough that you want to learn more about them. Some of the other reoccurring cast in this season are great too, including Frankie Shaw’s Shayla (Elliot’s morphine supplier), Gloria Reuben’s Krista (Elliot’s psychologist), and BD Wong’s mysterious character.

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It’s all directed great, with a very distinct style from the way its shot to the way its edited and the soundtrack fits the tone perfectly. It really is visually striking, the cinematography is comparable to what you would find in a big budget movie. While much of the colour palette is muted and dull, it fits with the lead character’s headspace, and the palette does change (even subtly) to fit the respective situations. The editing choices particularly are also some of the bests I’ve seen in a TV show, whether they be for montages, tense moments, etc. Additionally, when Elliot is in a scene, it does very well at putting you in his headspace. Not only that, but we are an active participant as well, at least when Elliot is on screen. Narration plays a big part in this show, and narration can be hit or miss in movies and shows, but it’s handled excellently here. Elliot is narrating directly to us, his imaginary friend. The show really did a great job at using music appropriately. The original score definitely fits the techno-cyberpunk thriller world that was built very well, but the show also did a great job at using music from other sources to perfectly fit their respective scenarios and situations.

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Season 1 of Mr. Robot was a great start to a fantastic series. With amazing acting, a compelling story, twists and so much more, it’s a show that you should go into it as soon as possible. Watch the first episode to have a hint of it, watch the whole first season in fact. If you think that’s great, the show goes way further and larger than that, and is well worth continuing.

The Undoing (2020) TV Review

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The Undoing

Time:
336 Minutes
Cast:
Nicole Kidman as Grace Fraser
Hugh Grant as Jonathan Fraser
Édgar Ramírez as Detective Joe Mendoza
Noah Jupe as Henry Fraser
Lily Rabe as Sylvia Steinetz
Matilda De Angelis as Elena Alves
Ismael Cruz Córdova as Fernando Alves
Edan Alexander as Miguel Alves
Michael Devine as Detective Paul O’Rourke
Donald Sutherland as Franklin Reinhardt
Noma Dumezweni as Haley Fitzgerald
Director: Susanne Bier

A therapist’s (Nicole Kidman) life unravels after she learns that her husband (Hugh Grant) might be responsible for a widespread disaster.

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I heard about The Undoing for some time, that it’s an HBO mini-series in the murder mystery thriller genre that starred Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in the lead roles. I didn’t think much of it or have a particularly strong interest in it when it was released, but after it received some TV award show nominations, I thought I might as well check it out. Having watched all the episodes, I’d say overall that it’s decent, but not nearly as good as it could’ve been.

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David E. Kelley, who previously created and wrote Big Little Lies, is the writer and creator of The Undoing and you can definitely feel it. However, it’s not nearly as strong as that other show. The faults mostly lay in the writing, which is the weakest part of the show, though I wouldn’t say it’s bad. It’s decent enough and was enough for me to pay attention to what was happening. Some episodes played out on the slow side, particularly the first two, but I was never bored. This series doesn’t add anything new to the whodunit genre, nor does it do anything better, but it is alright for what it is. As to be expected in this kind of show, there are twists and turns, however I found most of them to be rather lacking in impact. There were maybe 2 twists that I didn’t expect, the rest didn’t really surprise me that much. The ending really sticks out at being very out of place. The last 10-15 minutes were tonally different and felt like they belonged in a completely different movie or show. Much of the story was already a bit far fetched, but it somehow manages to top that. It’s almost like they didn’t know how to really end the show, so they just threw in some random contrived and overblown climax which does nothing but leave the story on a very confused note.

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The Undoing is 6 episodes long and on one hand that sounds alright as that’s not too long (certainly made the idea of watching the show more appealing). At the same time, given how little ground they cover with the story and characters, it does feel like it could’ve just been one feature length film. With it being a 6 hour long mini series, I just expected more from it. The characters aren’t the most interesting or have the most depth, they felt rather thinly written. Another thing to note is what the mystery is building towards, mainly what happened with the murder at the centre of the show, as well as who the killer is. While I won’t spoil anything, the reveal was rather underwhelming. There were plenty of other more unexpected directions that they could’ve taken instead. With that said, even if they were to stick with the direction that they chose (possibly to be faithful to the book), they really could’ve added stuff to that to make it more interesting than it turned out to be. That also applies to the approach to the story, as a whodunnit it’s entertaining but not really surprising or unpredictable despite how hard they try. It’s a show build on red herrings, which isn’t necessarily bad, but the show doesn’t develop those well enough to have them leave an impact or keep you guessing. Potentially it could’ve had a more of a psychological approach, in fact the show is sometimes regarded as a psychological thriller. Although it starts off seemingly like a psychological thriller, by the time it reaches the halfway point that’s not what the show is. Alternatively, it could’ve leaned more into the campiness, as at times it felt like a pulpy thriller (though it unfortunately mostly seemed to be unintentional). That would’ve at least been more entertaining. Either of those approaches could’ve made the series more interesting or more entertaining, as a whodunit though, it’s just fine.

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Essentially, it’s the performances from the cast that carry this show. Nicole Kidman is in the lead role and she is really good. I do think that there are some problems with her character, it feels like there should be more to her character considering that the story is mostly told from her perspective. With that said, Nicole Kidman conveys the emotions necessary, and is quite good here. Hugh Grant is great as Kidman’s husband and a suspect in the murder at the centre of the story. Grant was his usual charming self at times, but also was a darker and more unlikable character compared to most of the role he’s known for playing. It’s the best performance I’ve seen from him, and he displays his immense range in this. Donald Sutherland is also great as Nicole Kidman’s father, he gets some moments to really shine. Noah Jupe also deserves some praise as the son of Kidman and Grant, really getting plenty of chances to stand out among the cast. Another performance worth praising is that of Noma Dumezweni as the defence lawyer for Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman, she was a standout in every single scene she was in.

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All 6 episodes are directed by Susanne Bier, and overall she did a good job with them. It’s good on a technical level, it is well shot and are mostly edited well. There are sometimes flashbacks from when characters imagine what happened, and I think the use of them were a little inconsistent and confusing, especially when it’s meant to be characters’ thinking about events which they haven’t seen themselves.

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The Undoing does enough to entertain for 6 episodes even if it’s not anything special in the genre. However, by the end it’s pretty evident it could be much better, mainly with the writing, and it’s a little underwhelming and disappointing in parts. With that said, it interests and entertains enough, it’s well made, and the performances are great and keep you on board. If you generally like these kinds of plots, then you’ll probably at least enjoy watching it.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020) Review

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The Queen's GambitTime: 393 Minutes
Cast:

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon
Isla Johnston as young Beth
Bill Camp as Mr. Shaibel
Moses Ingram as Jolene
Christiane Seidel as Helen Deardorff
Rebecca Root as Miss Lonsdale
Chloe Pirrie as Alice Harmon
Akemnji Ndifornyen as Mr. Fergusson
Marielle Heller as Mrs. Alma Wheatley
Harry Melling as Harry Beltik
Patrick Kennedy as Allston Wheatley
Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as Townes
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benny Watts
Marcin Dorociński as Vasily Borgov
Director: Scott Frank

Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world.

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I was quite interested in The Queen’s Gambit. The main reason was Anya Taylor-Joy being cast in the lead role, she’s one of the best up and coming actors working today, and I’m always interested in whatever projects she takes on. Additionally, a mini series about chess sounded quite interesting. I had high hopes for The Queen’s Gambit and it turned out way better than I thought it would. It is an excellent miniseries, well made on every level, and with another great lead performance from Anya Taylor-Joy.

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The Queen’s Gambit consists of 7 Episodes ranging from 45 minutes to just over an hour in length. That’s pretty short as far as shows go, but it was the perfect length for this story. None of the episodes or moments in those episodes felt like they were filler. A lot happens in each episode too, even the episodes that aren’t an hour long. The first episode doesn’t feature Anya Taylor-Joy as lead character Beth Harmon outside of the opening scene, as it’s mainly Beth at age 9 when she’s at an orphanage and learns about chess. While that episode is pretty much just her at the orphanage, it is nonetheless a very important episode with plenty of things that it sets up for the rest of the show to continue on with. I’ll say that if you watched the first episode and weren’t as engaged as you would’ve liked to have been, the second episode is definitely where things advance a lot more, as it moves beyond the orphanage. I won’t give too much story details beyond that, but I’ll say that it’s very engrossing watching the lead character, the places she goes and everything she goes through. You’re really engrossed into what’s happening over the course of the story, the characters are well realised, and Beth’s story is quite compelling. The Queen’s Gambit is actually based off a fictional novel, but if I didn’t know that going in, I would’ve thought that it was a biopic, that’s how well made the show was. When it comes to chess, you don’t need to be an expert on chess in order to love the show. The Queen’s Gambit doesn’t even try to really explain the whole game to the audience, and that works. You can still follow along with what’s happening with no problems. Additionally, I’ve heard that a lot of chess experts has said that the portrayal of chess in the show is very accurate, so take that how you will.

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The acting is great by everyone. Anya Taylor-Joy gives one of, if not her best performance yet as Beth Harmon. She really portrays this complex character very well, it’s such a nuanced performance that conveys so much with very little. She definitely makes it convincing that she’s a genius level chess player, who is going through lots of issues throughout the show. Also, Isla Johnston deserves some praise as the younger version of Beth (mainly in the first episode). The supporting cast are all great too. Marielle Heller plays Beth’s step-mother, and that relationship between the two was one of the biggest surprises, as it went in a different direction from what I expected from it. I know of Heller as the director of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me and It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, but she’s shown here that she’s great at acting too and shares great chemistry with Taylor-Joy. Other performances such as Bill Camp as the janitor who teaches Beth chess, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as other chess players also add a lot to the show.

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Scott Frank directed all the episodes of the show, and he did a fantastic job with them. It’s an incredibly well shot show, the cinematography is great, and so is the production and costume designs. The costumes that Anya wears in the second half of the show particularly stand out. It really does well at placing the show in the time periods of the 50s and 60s. Chess is a big part of the show as you can tell, and that aspect is portrayed very well. Even the visuals of chess on the ceiling that Beth occasionally imagines in her head could’ve come across as a bit cheesy but actually ends up working. The editing is excellent too, not only working to make the chess matches thrilling and suspenseful, but also keeping the flow of an episode going. Everything that’s in each of the episodes actually has a reason to be there, while not feeling way too trimmed down. One of the aspects that really stood out to me early from even the first episode was the score from Carlos Rafael Rivera, which was really great and fitted the show perfectly.

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The Queen’s Gambit is an enthralling show with a great and entertaining story, and is incredibly well made. Acting across the board was also all solid but it’s Anya Taylor-Joy who stands out, giving another fantastic and compelling lead performance. This show was one of the biggest surprises from 2020, definitely worth checking out as soon as you can.

Taboo Season 1 (2017) Review

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Taboo Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney
Leo Bill as Benjamin Wilton
Jessie Buckley as Lorna Delaney
Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary
Stephen Graham as Atticus
Jefferson Hall as Thorne Geary
David Hayman as Brace
Edward Hogg as Michael Godfrey
Franka Potente as Helga von Hinten
Michael Kelly as Edgar Dumbarton
Tom Hollander as Dr George Cholmondeley
Marina Hands as Countess Musgrove
Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange
Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop
Nicholas Woodeson as Robert Thoyt
Creator: Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London after 10 years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him, Delaney finds himself in a fact-off against the East India Company, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.

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I knew about Taboo for some years, I just knew it as some period tv show with Tom Hardy in the lead role, that’s it though. Having watched a number of Hardy’s movies recently however, I thought that it would be the best time to Taboo’s first and currently only season. I eventually got around to it and I’m glad I did. Taboo may have its fair share of issues, but I really liked what I saw from this season.

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One of the biggest comparisons that has been made with this show was to Peaky Blinders, a show that Steven Knight also wrote and created. Both are period crime dramas that star Tom Hardy, but make no mistake, they are very different shows. While Peaky Blinders had its slower moments, it was much more entertaining, flashy and fast placed. Taboo is much more of a slow burn, and that’s probably the main thing that will turn some people off the show. If you intend on watching through all of Taboo going in, I highly recommend watching multiple episodes in each sitting. If you say only watch one episode a day, it more than likely feel like a drag to get through it all. I watched about 2-3 episodes a day and that worked for me. I won’t deny that it was quite slow to begin with, but the further you get into it, the more invested you become and the better it becomes. The second half in particular is better, with the last two episodes standing out the most. While the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up, the plotlines become more interesting, it’s just that to begin with you’re not as into it just yet. There are 8 episodes in the first season of Taboo, each being an hour long, and I thought that was about the right length for this season. This show also is a little weird, mainly is that there is an element of magic when it comes to Tom Hardy’s character that’s quite present throughout the show, and he even has some visions at times. It doesn’t bother me particularly, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially with such a gritty show like this that it’s a little stranger than it initially looks.

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Tom Hardy is front and centre for the vast majority, and Taboo is very much his show, in fact he’s the main reason most people even checked this show out. Hardy is reliant as an actor, and his work in this show is no exception. As protagonist James Delaney, Hardy has immense screen presence. Sure Delaney is yet another broody TV anti hero, cunning, ruthless and with a lot of issues, but he works exceptionally well for this show, mainly because of Tom Hardy’s work, especially with the fact that he actually is one of the creators of the show alongside his father and Steven Knight. While Hardy is fantastic as usual, the supporting cast deserve to be noted as well, even if some get more chances to shine than others. Among the highlights were Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce. Additionally, you have Stephen Graham and Mark Gattis who also work in their roles. The only character I thought was a little mishandled was that of James’s half-sister/lover played by Oona Chaplin, whose story arc was a little half baked and felt like a weak link compared to the rest of the storylines.

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Taboo is directed very well, with the first half by Kristoffer Nyholm and the second half by Anders Engstrom. The period of the 1810s is very well portrayed, from the costumes, the production design, all of it works, also excellently showcased through the cinematography by Mark Patten. Much of the show looks very muddy, grimy and dirty, and that perfectly is in line with the tone of the show. The show doesn’t feature that many scenes of violence (at least compared to the likes of Peaky Blinders), but the violence that occurs can be very brutal and gruesome, so it’s not really a show for the faint of heart. One other technical aspect of the show that is well worth noting is the great score by Max Richter, his themes really added a lot to the show and made already good scenes significantly better. It’s not surprising given that Richter is a really good composer, but this probably ranks among my favourite works of his.

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Taboo isn’t a show for everyone, it is slow, it is gruesome, it gets weird, it takes a while to really come into its own, and not everyone can really get into it. However, if you like dark movies/shows, or even if you just like Tom Hardy, I reckon that it’s worth checking out, at least watch the first 4 episodes. I have no idea whether Taboo is getting another season (with Steven Knight intending this to be a 3 season long series), apparently it is happening but for whatever reason it’s taking a very long time for it to release. As someone who liked the first season, I really want to see it happen. From the point that season 1 ended, it feels like the story of the show has only just started and I want to see where Knight is intending to take this story.

Game of Thrones Season 8 (2019) Spoiler Review

Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
Kit Harington as Jon Snow
Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth
Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei
Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
John Bradley as Samwell Tarly
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark
Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth
Conleth Hill as Varys
Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
Jerome Flynn as Bronn
Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane
Joe Dempsie as Gendry
Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm
Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont
Hannah Murray as Gilly
Carice van Houten as Melisandre
Creator: David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

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I’m aware that my review of this season is quite late, but I wanted to post my thoughts about it, because it’s become quite the source of controversy and debate. Game of Thrones Season 8 was one of the most highly anticipated pieces of media to come out this year, I’m a fan of the show and so I was definitely looking forward to it. However, this season has divided its audience to say the least, particularly the back half of the season has caused a lot of conflicts and outrage. The season is disappointing for sure, and I get a lot of the criticisms, but I don’t dislike it.

This is the first time I’m doing a spoiler review for a TV show, I just don’t think I can go into much depth with how I felt without doing so, especially with it being the final season. HBO offered D&D (Game of Thrones showrunners and writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss) 10 episodes but they turned them down and settled on having 6 episodes instead, and I think everyone can agree that this was the biggest problem with the season. I’m not going to get very pointy and accusatory about it, but it is worth pointing out that after this show, their next project will be a Star Wars movie, and it did feel like they wanted to get this season over with pretty quickly. The biggest example of the rushed feeling is after the White Walkers are dealt with in the first half of the season. While I would’ve liked the direct conflict with the Walkers to be more than just one episode (the first two episodes of setup before the third don’t count), this shortage of episodes is evidence in Episode 4 “The Last of the Starks”. It’s a good episode on the whole, but it’s wrapping up the aftermath of the battle at Winterfell before suddenly going into Daenerys getting ready to take King’s Landing. Not to mention halfway through it cuts to them sailing to King’s Landing the same episode they started out at Winterfell. We are used to characters having to take more than an episode to get from one place to the other even when the recent seasons started reducing their episode numbers, so it was really jarring. Then there’s that buildup to Daenerys’s controversial turn, or lack thereof. I’m not going to be on that side of people who said that her rampage was completely out of character, nor will I be one of the people who says that it was foreshadowed and already set up perfectly. I’m in the middle on this and really I see both sides. It makes somewhat sense that she’d be going down that path, and I’m pretty sure that she’s always going to end up going there. However, it feels like there was some development missing before the massacre at King’s Landing. Granted Tyrion’s explanation to Jon in the cell in the finale does sort of put things in perspective. Nonetheless I really would’ve liked to see the development of it all, and an episode before Episode 5 “The Bells” at the very least would’ve at least somewhat set it up better.

Generally, the acting has been good in the show but this season really everyone brings their A game to their performances, no matter the handling of their characters. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is as usual great and one of the standouts. His character ever since season 5 really hasn’t been as smart as he once was, yet this change in character is made work by Dinklage. He’s particularly great in the last two episodes of the season. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister is also really good as usual, he’s really gone on such a long journey and changes these past 8 seasons. With that said, much has been said about his choice in episode 4 to return back to Cersei, and yeah, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some mixed feelings about that, even if it seems to makes some sense. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister unfortunately only appears in a few episodes, and I really would’ve liked to have seen her serve as more as a direct threat to Daenerys, instead of just waiting for half the season and being killed off a couple episodes later. Still, with the little that she’s given she does a lot. The character that was mistreated the most this season though was Jon Snow. Kit Harington tries his hardest and is good in a few moments, but he’s really let down by the writing. Almost half his dialogue is “You are my queen”, “She is my/our queen”, “The Night King is coming”. I get that he’s in love with Daenerys and all that, but with the exception of the last episode he really has no motivation outside of just doing what she wants. He basically has no drive throughout and much of who we saw in the previous 7 seasons aren’t here. He has two in character decisions this season, the first being to tell everyone about his heritage, the second being making the final decision to kill Daenerys, outside of that he just felt like a glorified extra. If we are talking about the character that really needed this season to work better though, it was of Bran Stark, especially considering the final episode. Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright definitely plays the role exactly as it was written, but again, it’s really the writing that’s the problem. Bran really just doesn’t come across as human. I get that he’s the Three Eyed Raven now but it would’ve worked better if we could even see a semblance of the old Bran, even if he was changed. I mean even Max von Sydow’s Three Eyed Raven seemed more human. It made Bran unlikable and no doubt made it very difficult to accept him becoming king at the end.

Characters I didn’t really have problems with included Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, Rory McCain as Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane, Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth, Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy, and Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth, and they played their roles well. Turner especially has come a long way since the first season. However, the standout performance of the entire season was Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. When it comes to her acting the past seasons, some people have been a little mixed on her performances (even though I thought she was already pretty good). However, she really gave it her all here. Then the last half of the season when Daenerys seems to take that dramatic turn, Emilia genuinely sells that side to her, and without it I’m not entirely sure I’d be on board with her change without her work. It’s made even better considering how Emilia wasn’t exactly on board with how Daenerys would be acting, yet she brought everything into her performance.

The direction of the show has generally really good, and that still applies this season. Highlights were episodes 3 and 5. The Battle of Winterfell was big and bloody and among the best battle episodes in the series. However, I’ll be one of those people and say that they definitely needed to turn up the brightness (though it wasn’t that bad). As for episode 5, I’ll admit that I heard about what Daenerys does before I even got a chance to watch the episode. However, I didn’t know that it would be an utter massacre. It really places you right there as everything it happening, especially when it places you from the perspective from Arya, ‘Plot Armor’ (or whatever it is now) aside, it’s like a Children of Men esque scene where you see the horror of everything from someone right in the carnage. The score by Ramin Djawadi is the most consistently great thing in the show, it’s always been good but he’s really delivered here, with some of the best songs in the entire series being from this season.

As this is the last season, I’ll talk about the last episode of the whole show and my thoughts on it. I did read the ‘leaks’ about the last episode and I wasn’t even that surprised by what I saw. However I do like that The Iron Throne was destroyed, one of the things not in the leaks. The first half of the episode was great and fitting, slow building and showing the aftermath of the destruction. I know some people didn’t like it wasn’t bold and dramatic, with a bunch of conflict, but I loved that everything felt much more lowkey and personal. After Daenerys is killed by Jon however, it does a time jump and things felt weird. They wrap everything up really quickly, but it feels drawn out, like they are aware of the runtime and so try to make scenes longer than they have to be. Not sure how it’s possible to make a choosing of someone to be King to be a little drawn out and almost boring but this episode achieved it. Which brings me to another thing, Bran becomes King. Now the idea didn’t seem absurd (and it seems like it was George RR. Martin’s plan anyway), however it’s how Bran was shown these past episodes that made it really hard to accept. As I previously said, the problem is that he’s barely human, so I’m not even sure what the point was, even if he was intended to be just a figurehead while Tyrion and the council actually run the kingdom. I mean Bran seemed much more interested in finding the final dragon than actually being King. In the end, most of the plot decisions makes sense, and many of the characters were at fitting places in the end. Even Jon’s ending, which although presented as rejoining the Night’s Watch, seemed much more like him becoming The King Beyond the Wall. It just felt like something was missing. With that said, with every ‘improved fan ending’ that I come across, I just appreciate the ending we actually got. It’s underwhelming for sure, but it actually feels like an ending for the show and not just fanservice.

So yes, I will say that Season 8 of Game of Thrones is a bit of a disappointment for me. The fact that everything was rushed was the largest contributing factor to it. Both this and season 5 are probably the worst seasons (at least season 8 didn’t have that subplot in Dorne). Despite all of the problems in this season (and there are many), I can’t say that I’m entirely unhappy about how the show ended. There are some great parts, performances are great (Emilia Clarke the MVP), the direction and particularly the large scale battles are great, and while the execution and the lead up to it was rocky, I wasn’t against the direction the show went in at the end. If you haven’t watched the show and are still reading this review, I still say that the show is worth checking out. Even though the show has been slowly declining, the first 4 seasons are fantastic and even the ones following them are still pretty good as well. I don’t regret getting invested in this show and I’m looking forward to seeing the planned spin offs.

Jessica Jones Season 2 (2018) Review

Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones
Rachael Taylor as Patricia “Trish” Walker
Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse
J. R. Ramirez as Oscar Arocho
Terry Chen as Pryce Cheng
Leah Gibson as Inez Green
Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth
Janet McTeer as Alisa Jones
Created By: Melissa Rosenberg

New York City private investigator Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is beginning to put her life back together after murdering her tormenter, Kilgrave. Now known throughout the city as a super-powered killer, a new case makes her reluctantly confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why.

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With Season 3 of Jessica Jones out now, I wanted to give my thoughts on the previous season. Season 1 was great, it was a darker and much more grounded show (for it being about someone with superpowers), Krysten Ritter was perfect as the titular character and it had a fantastic villain in David Tennant’s Kilgrave. So people were anticipating the second season of the acclaimed show. However, Season 2 is generally regarded as being at a much lower level compared to the first season and I’m among these people. Although I still liked the season, it does have quite a bit of problems which really hold it back from being as good as it should be.

I noticed a lot of people who take an issue with the season mainly bring up the fact that the season doesn’t really have a central villain of sorts, but I don’t have an issue with that at all honestly. Not every comic book related movie or show needs to have a ‘villain’. Besides, it would be hard to have a villain that would reach a level of Kilgrave from the first season. I think the main problem is that the whole season feels unfocussed. It seems like a bunch of plotlines just thrown together, and not all of them work, making it feel really uneven, possibly the most uneven of the Marvel Netflix seasons (though Iron Fist Season 1 still exists). The most prominent plotline is basically revisiting Jessica Jones’s past, which is a little unnecessary. As for the other plotlines, they are almost all focussing on different characters that don’t really tie into the main story, Trish Walker, Jerri Hogarth, so in that sense this plotline is still the best out of the season because at least it’s somewhat the most relevant. I guess one good thing that came from needlessly going back to Jessica’s past is that it seems to mean that the next season won’t be revisiting Jessica’s backstory yet again (at least I hope it doesn’t). In terms of issues aside from all the other subplots that don’t work, the detective work by Jessica was a little downgraded. The first season featured Jessica using her detective skills quite heavily, with that taking more priority over her superpowers. Thankfully they don’t turn this season into an action show by any means, but in Season 2, a lot of the mystery seemed to simplify the things she had to figure out, like Danny Rand or Luke Cage could do exactly what she does this season. Not that it isn’t interesting to watch it play out, it just feels lesser in comparison to what they did in the first season.

Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones is great once again, she’s definitely the best part of this season and I don’t really have any problems with Ritter’s performance or her character. She’s perfectly cast in the role, and even if certain plotlines with her aren’t exactly great and have problems, she seems to make it somewhat work. A lot of the supporting cast is actually good at acting, its just that some of the characters weren’t handled all that great. On the better end of the spectrum is Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse, who was in the first season. Now after having dealt with his drug problem in the last season, Malcolm is working for Jessica and plays a reasonably prominent part in the show, and he worked well. Janet McTeer plays the closest thing to a villain this season. Minor spoilers (its hard to talk about her role without spoiling anything) but she plays Jessica’s mother. Now as I said earlier, I’m not exactly on board with them pointlessly going back to Jessica’s past, but it was the strongest plotline of this season, and McTeer was really good in the role. Side note, yes David Tennant returns as Kilgrave but don’t expect much of it, it’s just in one episode and really it didn’t necessarily need him. With that said it was nice to see him again and Tennant once again steals the scene whenever he’s on screen.

There is a character named Pryce Cheng played by Terry Chen who’s pretty much runs a private investigation firm, and his subplot I really didn’t like, one of the worst of the season. He is somewhat a source of antagonist against Jessica Jones but it doesn’t amount to much, and he just ends up being a source of annoyance more than anything. There really wasn’t much point in him being in this season. Carrie Anne Moss as Jerri Hogarth gets a lot of screentime in this season, even more compared to the previous season. There is an entire subplot dedicated to Hogarth involving her dealing with a disease, I’ve seen people being both positive and negative when it came to her plotline, I personally found it to be a mixed bag. I feel the best part of the plotline is that Carrie Anne Moss gets to really shine and gives a really good performance, but it still doesn’t really tie into the rest of the plotlines that well and feels really out of place. So, while there are times where I was interested and invested with what’s going on, there are other times where I’m wondering why we are spending so much time with her. One of the biggest criticisms of this season (and that’s saying a lot) is Trish Walker (played by Rachael Taylor). Her character seemed to be taking enhanced drugs and trying to be a hero of sorts. It was just annoying to see her plotline, worst of all she is a bit unlikable but they dedicate so much time to her, so she really sticks out. At the end of the show though, it gets to a point where it occurred to me that they might be taking her character in a different direction. In the comics, Trish Walker is a superhero named Hellcat and it was speculated that the show would be making her a superhero eventually. However, it seems like they may be changing many things about Hellcat and going about it in a very different way, in a much more villainous direction. If they are going in the direction I think they’re doing for season 3, it might actually work. Otherwise if Season 2 is supposed to be superhero Hellcat’s origin story and we are actually supposed to be with her (both during and at the end) throughout her subplot, I think it was a really bad decision (again, haven’t seen the entirety of season 3 yet, so I’ll know for sure later).

The show is pretty much directed in the same way as the first season, it still very much feels like the same world and city from the first season and it’s all around pretty good. Thankfully this show hasn’t turned into an action series at all, while some of the detective aspect of Jessica Jones has been watered down, at least it wasn’t in favour of a bunch of forced action scenes. At the same time, they still have some pretty tense sequences. The fight/’action’ scenes that do involve Jessica physically and her using her powers don’t overdo it and are handled well enough.

Jessica Jones Season 2 is really not as good as the first season. It is unfocussed, most of the plotlines aren’t really interesting and don’t work well together, and it can be a chore to sit through sometimes. With that said, it’s not all bad. Krysten Ritter is once again great as Jessica Jones, a few of the supporting actors/characters were good and there were some moments that I liked. It’s significantly worse than the first season but I still liked it. Hopefully Season 3 will put the show back on track.