Tag Archives: Rami Malek

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) Review

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Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Ruth Guthrie
Casey Affleck as Bob Muldoon
Ben Foster as Patrick Wheeler
Keith Carradine as Skerritt
Rami Malek as Will
Charles Baker as Bear
Nate Parker as Sweetie
Director: David Lowery

A man (Casey Affleck) takes the fall for his lover’s (Rooney Mara) crime, then four years later breaks out of prison to find her and their young daughter, who was born during his incarceration.

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I was initially interested in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for the talent involved, especially with a cast that included Rooney Mara. I went in knowing nothing aside from this and the initial premise, and I quite liked it, even if the writing wasn’t anything special.

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At its core, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a poetic and melancholic crime drama. The story is predictable, simple and a bit cliched, the characters are archetypical and nothing special. Its very loose with the plot, and for the most part it doesn’t really land as hard emotionally as it was intending to. It is a slower paced movie, often meandering and particularly dragging in the second act. Not everything is explained, and much is left up for the viewer to interpret, very much high on atmosphere and low on explanation, but I kind of respect that. There is a melancholic and sad vibe that is effectively conveyed throughout. There is very little time spent on the actual romance between the lead two characters; we get early scenes with the couple together before they are separated and then there’s a time jump. After this point, for most of the runtime, they aren’t on screen together. Instead, much of the film is them yearning for each other and I thought that was effective. While the movie on the whole doesn’t succeed entirely, there are some powerful character moments.

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Much of what made the movie work as well as it did was the cast. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara deliver great and powerful performances as their characters, they shared convincing chemistry together, which is important since much of the movie relies on their connection, and they have limited scenes together. Ben Foster, Keith Carradine and more also worked well in supporting parts.

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David Lowery’s direction was one of the strongest elements of the movie, I liked his style and handling of the movie. This film is beautifully shot by Bradford Young, with great use of natural lighting and really captured the locations and settings. There is also a great score from Daniel Hart which fitted the melancholic tone of the movie. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints really reminded me of Terrence Malick’s earlier movies, especially with the cinematography and locations, along with the fairly plotless approach.

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a good romantic crime drama. I wouldn’t say that it is a must see, it is slower paced, it can drag and feels like it is missing something with the writing and story. However, David Lowery’s direction and the solid performances were just enough to make it work, and I think it is worth checking out.

No Time to Die (2021) Review

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No Time to Die

Time: 163 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M
Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash
Ana de Armas as Paloma
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain (Rami Malek) who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

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After years of delays, No Time to Die has finally arrived. It’s not only the latest James Bond movie (25th of the official movies in fact), but it’s also Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie. I have been really anticipating this movie, I really liked this version of Bond, and I was interested to see how it would conclude everything. It was a great experience, especially in the cinema, and overall I’m prepared to say that I’m satisfied with it.

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No Time to Die is really a movie that’s worth going into not knowing too much beforehand. The trailers and advertising avoided giving too many plot details for good reason. What’s immediately noticeable is that there’s an interesting blend of tones in this movie. It is bombastic and over the top while also being emotional. First of all, it leans into more the classic Bond aspects than the previous Craig films. The plot has massive global stakes caused by a ludicrous villain, there are gadgets throughout, there are plenty of one liners, and overall everything is more over the top. This is also the funniest Bond movie of Craig’s run, with a good amount of well-executed humour which I enjoyed. At the same time there is an emotional core to the film, and it wraps up all the storylines and character journeys for this version of James Bond. If you haven’t seen the previous Craig James Bond movies and are thinking about jumping in here, I would highly recommend watching them (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre) before No Time to Die because it references events from those films. It is very much a follow on from Spectre (the movie), from Madeleine Swann, to Blofeld and Spectre (the organisation). While I’m aware not everyone will be on board with this given that plenty of people weren’t fans of the last movie, I actually thought it worked quite well. In some ways it retroactively made me like some of those aspects from Spectre a lot more. Tonally it sounds like a mess, however it somehow all comes together in the end. Without getting into spoilers, I thought the finale was ultimately emotionally satisfying, and a great sendoff to this version of James Bond. While it does embrace some of the more classic elements of Bond, it’s also a unique entry for a Bond movie. I can’t speak to any issues immediately because there was a lot to take in with this movie. There’s a lot that happens, with plenty of characters, storylines, and parts to wrap up. Speaking of which, the runtime is at around 2 hours 45 minutes long, making this by far the longest movie in the franchise. At times I could feel the length, but I was always invested in what was happening, so that was never a problem for me.

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This movie really felt like a real ensemble piece more so than the previous Bond movies. First and foremost is Daniel Craig, who delivers his best performance as James Bond. He gets to have a lot of fun moments, from the one liners and humour, to the action. Craig’s Bond is the most human and given the most emotions compared to the past versions of the character, and it goes all in with that in this movie. While there are world ending stakes throughout the film, there is no mistake that Bond’s story is the main focus, and Craig delivers all of this so greatly. He plays the character in a way we haven’t seen from him before, and the movie really gives him the opportunity to give a finale for Bond. Lea Seydoux is one of the only Bond girls to actually return from a previous Bond movie, here she’s reprising her role of Madeleine Swann. I liked Seydoux in Spectre but there was something missing with that character in the movie, and I didn’t quite buy the Swann/Bond romance at the end. No Time to Die however makes this relationship really work, and I thought that Seydoux was great here, getting to do a lot more. We also get returning supporting Bond players with Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and even Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, all of them reliable as always. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stravo Blofeld from Spectre, and while he’s not in the movie much, I actually liked him more in this movie, he’s great in his scenes and really leaves an impression. There are some new additions who are great in their parts too. There’s Lashana Lynch who is great as the new 007 (after James Bond had retired at the end of Spectre), and there’s also Billy Magnussen who is good in his role. Ana de Armas is a scene stealer, delivering a really fun and entertaining performance but unfortunately doesn’t get a massive amount of screentime. Nonetheless, she makes a strong impression. There’s also the new Bond villain as played by Rami Malek. He doesn’t quite reach the heights of Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale or Javier Bardem in Skyfall, but I think he’s a solid enough villain for this movie, especially as he’s the biggest adversary to Craig’s Bond yet. Malek’s character is definitely over the top, as you would expect for someone named Lyutisfier Safin. He is a strong and creepy screen presence, and absolutely nails the scenes that he’s in. There’s nothing really wrong with him writing or acting-wise, however he’s not in the movie as much as I would’ve liked.

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The newest director to helm a Bond film is Cary Fukunaga, and while I haven’t seen all of his other work, I can say that his work on Sin Nombre and Maniac is great. As expected, his direction for No Time to Die is fantastic and feels fresh and distinct in the franchise. There is this constant energy felt throughout, making even the more slower paced sections felt energised. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is great, really giving this movie a very vibrant look, and it helps that the film takes advantage of the memorable locations it takes place at. The action is truly stellar, starting with an early action set piece with Bond in a motorcycle and then in a car, and only continuing to be great from there. The action is often filmed with long takes, with particularly one of the standout action scenes involving a stairway later in the movie. All the action is great and rivals the best action sequences from Craig’s past 4 Bond films. Hans Zimmer composes the score and while it doesn’t rank amongst the best work from him or one of the best Bond soundtracks, it is solid and works well for the movie. I also think that Billie Eilish’s main song for the movie was great.

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No Time to Die ranks alongside Skyfall and Casino Royale as my favourite James Bond movies. It is very long and there’s a lot to take in, but I loved what I saw from my first viewing of it. Cary Fukunaga delivered a visually stunning and enthralling movie, with great action, an ensemble cast of reliable and solid performances, and a script that’s bombastic and witty yet also appropriately emotional and given enough depth. However, above all else, it served as a great finale for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and it definitely achieved what it set out to do. I’m not really sure what they will do for the next version of James Bond, from the actor to the interpretation of the character. Nonetheless, Craig remains my all-time favourite version of the character’s nearly 50 year run, and I’m happy with the sendoff they gave him with No Time to Die.

Mr. Robot Season 4 (2019) Review

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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.

Mr. Robot Season 3 (2017) Review

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Mr Robot Season 3

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
Bobby Cannavale as Irving
Creator: Sam Esmail

Picking up immediately following the season two cliffhanger, season three explores each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot (Rami Malek) and Mr. Robot (Christian Slater).

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Season 2 of Mr. Robot, while good, did feel a little disappoint when compared to its previous season. While it was ambitious and ended strongly enough, Season 2 was bogged down by self-indulgence and some storylines that seemed to be going nowhere. Even though I liked it, parts of it did feel like a chore to get through. Season 3 however is a noticeable step up and a real return to form for the series, a lot more focused and constantly engaging from beginning to end.

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This goes without saying, but this review will contain spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of Mr. Robot. The action picks up from where we last left the show, with Elliot having just been shot by fugitive and former E Corp senior VP Tyrell Wellick. Angela is working with both Tyrell and the Dark Army, and Darlene is now serving as an FBI informant for Dom who, along with her colleagues, is still trying to get to the bottom of the E Corp Hack. A large part of season 3’s success comes from how it deals with that season 2 cliffhanger. Something that also made this season quite interesting is that Elliot and Mr. Robot are now individual personalities. This creates a new and interesting dynamic between those characters and others in their sphere. It also gives Season 3 a clearer narrative structure, as Elliot’s two personalities now rarely appear in the same scene together. and aren’t aware what the other is doing. It adds an extra level of tension and allows the audience to better understand every character’s motive, all while avoiding a simplistic ‘good vs evil’ narrative.

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For those already weary at the prospect of more episodes rife with frustrating mind games, just know that in season 3, Mr. Robot is much more consistently assured and compelling than it was in its uneven second season, while still having plenty of floating questions and mysteries. Esmail cleverly retrofitted some of the less clear plot points and character decisions in the past by filling the audience in on the missing parts (even dating back to season one) – all without being too much, or feeling dumbed down and just explained to us.  You do get some of the answers that many of us wanted, including what exactly Tyrell had been doing while he’s been away for most of season 2. It’s a tight season at 10 episodes but it’s very eventful and tense throughout, characters are placed in very dangerous situations in the story. The main arc of the season, centered around the Dark Army’s terrorist attack and Elliot’s attempts to stop it, comes to a head in a sensational midseason double-bill, and I won’t spoil it but it’s excellently done. As season 3 picks up and races forward, the series continues to poke fun at itself, this season particularly has a good sense of humour. Episode 2 for example opens with a mostly upbeat eight-minute sequence that follows Elliot as he re-acclimates to daily life as a corporate drone. The series also gets back to letting viewers dive into big questions of government control, corporate greed, the rights of citizens, and the power and shortcomings of technology. The season doesn’t really end with a cliffhanger, but it does end in a way that makes you excited for season 4.

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The acting from everyone is fantastic as usual. Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot get more focus in this season compared to the last, and thus Rami Malek and Christian Slater get to shine more. With their new dynamic (as mentioned much earlier) this means that Malek and Slater are more united ever as actors because they’re called to dip into each other’s performance tics in specific scenes. Both continue to give very compelling performances. The returning supporting cast including BD Wong, Grace Gummer, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Martin Wallstrom, and Michael Cristofer also perform quite well in their parts. All of their characters are taken in more interesting directions than before, and as a result they get to do a lot more. There’s some particular standouts. Portia Doubleday’s Angela Moss is placed in an interesting position as she’s now working for the Dark Army, and she gets to stand out, especially in the second half. Speaking of which, there’s a lot more screentime for BD Wong as Dark Army leader Whiterose as we learn more about her, and as usually he’s fantastic in the role(s). The biggest surprise however is Tyrell Wellick, played by Martin Wallstrom, he’s taken to a whole other level in this season. It’s almost a reinvention of the character that we knew from him in the first two seasons, and Wallstrom does some excellent shape-shifting to pull that off. Bobby Cannevale also joins the cast as Irving, a fixer of sorts for the Dark Army. Cannavale maintains a chill, chatty demeanour throughout, and was quite entertaining to watch. He could’ve easily come across as too cartoonish, but Cannavale is so immersed in character that it works, he’s terrific.

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Sam Esmail directs every episode, some which started from the second season and continuing through to the very end of the series. Esmail remains a flashy and ambitious filmmaker, framing certain shots to be extra-top-heavy and capturing chaotic scenes via lengthy tracking shots, but in ways that feel more natural and doesn’t feel like it’s showing off. This is a show which moves its cameras like no other, plays with reality like no other, blends timelines across seasons like no other. His use of long one-take shots were particularly effective, it helps that this technique is saved for moments so dramatic you’re not even looking for the cut. Speaking of which, there’s particularly one episode which is made to look like it was in one shot, this episode remains one of the best episodes of the entire series and for good reason, it’s incredible impressive. The score by Mac Quayle is even better here than in the past seasons and it was already amazing.

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Mr. Robot Season 3 is a return to form for the series. From the first episode to the last, it’s a tight, incredibly tense and entertaining ride. The writing is incredible with compelling character work and social commentary, the visually striking direction is only improving as the show continues, and the performances from the stellar cast are fantastic as always. It continues on the ambitions brought forward from season 2 and is as precise and well put together as season 1, while also making itself quite distinct in tone and style. It’s a strong contender for best season of Mr. Robot, it’s between this and the final season.

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.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language, sexual references & drug references
Cast:
Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury/Farrokh Bulsara
Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin
Gwilym Lee as Brian May
Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor
Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon
Aidan Gillen as John Reid
Tom Hollander as Jim Beach
Allen Leech as Paul Prenter
Mike Myers as Ray Foster
Director: Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher

Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie based on the true story of the rock band Queen’s journey from the start of the group to their legendary performance at the Live Aid concert at the Wembley stadium. The movie revolves around the groups lead singer Freddie Mercury’s (Rami Malek) part of the story and his life from being an outcast immigrant in society to a world famous artist and his struggles trough the journey of it.

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I was mildly interested in Bohemian Rhapsody as a fan of Queen. I wasn’t sure about Bryan Singer directing (the main reason actually not being his directing skill) but the appeal of seeing Rami Malek play Freddie Mercury and really just the band on the big screen was just irresistible, so despite some mixed reception of the movie, I was holding out hope. I actually ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody a lot more than I thought I would. It could’ve been better but I was entertained by it and Rami Malek was great as Freddie Mercury.

A large part of the criticisms are about the accuracies and portrayals and so I’ll just address that part first. As much as I like Queen, I’ll admit I don’t know a ton about them, so people who have much more knowledge about the band will probably pick up on some more inaccuracies than me. I did find there are some moments that did seem ‘movie-like’, like moments that probably never happened in real life and was just done for the movie as a wink to the audience. There isn’t a ton of those but they really do stick out when they happen. Also, there’s a bit where they come up with the song “We Will Rock You” and even I knew that they created it a number of years before when that scene takes place in the timeline. However one of the biggest ones I’ve heard after watching the movie was that Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis happens years later on than when the movie shows it. The main reason seems to be that the movie wanted to address the AIDS aspect but also wanted to end at the Live Aid, so they tried to rearrange events so that they could have both. With everything considered, I’m taking the accuracies somewhat loosely, most of it is probably accurate, but some of it isn’t. I know that originally there was going to be a Freddie Mercury film with Sacha Baron Cohen, which was going to be very much in depth with him and really go all the way, but while that sounds interesting, Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t that movie. This movie was more like a tribute and celebration of the band and Mercury, and in that it really works. Besides, just because we recently had a Freddie Mercury/Queen movie doesn’t mean that in the future we won’t get that sort of uncensored movie focusing on him/them.

Now for the actual movie. Bohemian Rhapsody doesn’t delve too much into Queen (its mostly focussed on Mercury) but it does try to cover a lot of what happened with them from 1970 to 1984, and so in that it does cover a lot of things briefly. It does feel like they selected a few things that they wanted to cover and were like “Wouldn’t it be nice to see them come up with Another One Bites the Dust and show how it happened?”. With that said, I liked seeing how certain things came to be, even if only scratched the surface of Queen and is well known (because as I said, I don’t know too much about Queen, despite being a fan). However, I think that the film is strongest whenever it shows the different sides to Freddie Mercury. One thing that some biopics tend to fall into is that they sanitise everything about the people their based on, but they don’t really do that here. They show Freddie for the musical genius he is but they also show his shortcomings and flaws, as well as the conflicts and problems that he has. Bohemian Rhapsody was about 2 hours and 10 minutes long but it never felt too long, it always had my attention from start to finish and I was never bored.

Rami Malek is fantastic as Freddie Mercury. When someone is portraying such an iconic person, they can often just slip into doing an imitation but Malek never falls into that. He really just becomes Freddie Mercury on screen and over time you just forget that its Rami and just see Freddie. Obviously the singing isn’t actually Malek’s but they did a great job at making him look like he’s doing it. He has the same onstage and offstage energy, the voice, everything of Freddie Mercury, really great performance. The rest of the cast is good as well. The rest of Queen, Gwilym Lee as Brian May, Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon were great, the 4 of them were really convincing in their roles and played off each other well. Other actors like Aidan Gillen, Lucy Boynton, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech and even Mike Myers were good, and served their roles well.

Now this movie is actually directed by two people, Bryan Singer initially and then later he was replaced by Dexter Fletcher. I didn’t notice any differences in the direction but it is flashy and entertaining. When it comes to the band performances, it’s flashy and entertaining to watch but you can see that they are restraining things, cutting things a little short, you’re almost just seeing them in montages and all that. Part of it is really because the movie is building up to The Live Aid performance in the last act, and that payoff is really great to see. We get to see a few songs from the crowd and from the stage, that whole sequence is really one of the highlights of the movie. With all that, Bohemian Rhapsody is really best seeing in a theatre on a big screen and speakers. It really was an experience watching Queen perform the songs and hearing them.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a little by the numbers and nothing special when it comes to music biopics but I had a good time with it, I had fun with it. Even for what it was going for, it could’ve been better, its not quite the Queen biopic that we wanted but I still liked it and there are some good parts to it. At the very least its worth checking out for Rami Malek’s fantastic performance as Freddie Mercury.