Article: The Victors & Victims of Game of Thrones


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Article: The Victors & Victims of Game of Thrones

 

Daredevil – Season 2 Review: Red & Black


Creators: Doug Petrie, Marco Ramirez

Channel: Netflix

Stars: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Jon Bernthal

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Genre: Action, Crime-drama, Superhero

Premiere: March 18th, 2016

Country: USA


4½/5

Best part: Jon Bernthal.

Worst part: A few too many episodes.

Last year, Netflix and Marvel’s first collaboration, Daredevil, set the bar for superheroes on the small screen. With Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War taking over the big screen in 2016, Marvel and DC Comics/Warner Bros. continue their ongoing war for supremacy and positive reviews in our homes. Eclipsing The Flash, Gotham, Agents of SHIELD, and Arrow, Daredevil – Season 2 is the best superhero show and one of contemporary TV’s biggest surprises to date.

Daredevil – Season 2 kicks off acknowledging the back-breaking, bone-crunching events of Season 1. With Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) behind bars, Law firm Nelson and Murdock, held up by colleagues/best friends Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson), is – despite sending Fisk to the slammer – facing a swift tumble down the plughole. Murdock, donning the red, leather Daredevil costume every night, is forced to decide between a quaint existence alongside Nelson and assistant Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and ongoing vigilante/saviour responsibilities.

Of course, topping the quality and events of the previous season, Daredevil’s second outing introduces higher stakes and several alluring new characters. Frank Castle/The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) is a man driven to the edge of sanity by the death of his wife and child. With Hell’s Kitchen gangs hunted down one by one, the public soon turns against Castle and Murdock’s forms of citizen justice. Castle, depicted in several lacklustre big-screen iterations previously, is treated with respect here. Like his comic-book counterpart, this version is a cunning, thought-provoking anti-hero unafraid to twist the knife. Their action sequences provide that ‘dark & gritty’ aura most blockbusters fumble, informing each character’s persona and the show’s hyperkinetic atmosphere.

Daredevil and Castle’s conflict provides the psychological and thematic backbone other superhero adaptations typically lack. Castle provides a no-holes-barred approach, eviscerating criminals with military precision whilst making sure they never get back up. Daredevil, however, beats people to a pulp but leaves them for the police to put behind bars – eventually facing the consequences of their actions. From the scintillating courtroom sequences to thunderous set-pieces, this debate adds new layers to the genre whilst keeping the audience guessing.

Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung) slinks out of the darkness to give our favourite blind lawyer/vigilante, and her old boyfriend, a run for his money. A significant part of the season’s second half, the character is too given an honourable treatment compared to previous iterations (Sorry, Jennifer Garner). Utilising her sex appeal, tenacity, and ferociousness to her advantage, her persona pulls Murdock into a befuddling world of ninjas, scheming villains, and spiritual awakenings. She, balancing out Castle’s impact on the narrative, is a force to be reckoned with and worthy of a spin-off before joining The Defenders.

Most importantly, Cox provides a delightful, multi-layered performance as the Devil (angel) of Hell’s Kitchen. Similarly to Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America, the performer creates a unique, nuanced divide between superhero and alter ego. Creating a physical specimen and vulnerable everyday citizen, the creators, writers, directors, and Cox combine to develop an arresting lead character – carrying all 13 episodes with ease. With Murdock facing off against physical threats, Nelson and Page aptly balance the warfare with wit and flair throughout their all-important sub-plots.

Sitting comfortably alongside Season 1 and Jessica Jones, Daredevil – Season 2 is a tight, taut continuation of one of TV’s best shows and the Marvel Television/Cinematic Universe.

Verdict: A major notch above Season 1.

Jessica Jones Season 1 Review: A Small-Screen Marvel


Creator: Melissa Rosenberg

Channel: Netflix

Stars: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Wil Traval

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Genres: Action, Detective, Drama, Neo-noir, Superhero

Premiere: November 20th, 2015

Country: USA


4/5

Best part: The dynamic performances.

Worst part: Not enough Luke Cage.

In 2015, the Marvel Cinematic Universe juggernaut showed no sign of slowing down. The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man were fun, edge-of-your-seat thrill-rides performing on their own whilst setting up future installments. In addition, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD gained traction, responded valiantly to the events of the aforementioned blockbusters, and gained a bigger audience. However, the best Marvel properties belonged to Netflix, proving just how far the online streaming service has come this year.

Daredevil Season 1 expertly combined The Dark Knight Trilogy‘s ‘dark and gritty’ crime-thriller style/vision with tension-inducing chills and subdued performances. As The Wire meets Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the series became a binge-watcher’s dream for 13 straight hours. Its follow-up, Jessica Jones, took many significant leaps of faith. The show, pulling an obscure character out of the shadows, sets up its unique tone and establishes itself in the darker New York/MCU world.

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a private investigator with a cynical edge and lust for vengeance. Infidelity and harmful actions are good for business, accentuating her status as one of few effective freelance PI offices left in Manhattan. After putting an end to her superhero career, she leaves her powers to roughing up thugs and lowlifes coming through her door at Alias Investigations. Witnessing university hopeful Hope Shlottmann (Erin Moriarty) murder her own parents, Jones is convinced her supervillainous arch nemesis/ex-boyfriend, Kilgrave (David Tennant), has returned to destroy her.

This mash-up of detective, neo-noir, superhero, and psychological-thriller tropes is one of 2015’s most transformative shows. Developed effectively by Melissa Rosenberg, the series provides a fresh, inspired take on drama narrative and socially relevant themes on screen. The first three episodes (AKA Ladies Night, AKA Crush Syndrome, AKA It’s Called Whiskey), in particular, apply neo-noir’s sickening atmosphere and aesthetic to its arresting character study elements. The show highlights each detail of Jones’ investigation, efficiently setting up the pieces before knocking them down spectacularly.

Jessica Jones, predictably labelled ‘feminist’ by people who don’t know any better, provides balanced versions of both genders. Unlike many superhero films/series’ etc., the female characters are given depth beyond their abilities. Jones is a survivor, brought to her knees by everything and everyone throughout her life. The lead is the series’ best asset – a well-rounded being succumbing to temptation (booze, sex etc.) and emotional connections realistically. On the other side of the conflict, Kilgrave is the MCU’s most enthralling antagonist. As an obsessive ex-boyfriend type, he preys on Jones’ issues (post traumatic stress disorder, assault etc.) with fearsome tenacity. Diverting from the urban, predator-prey dynamic of preceding episodes, AKA You’re A Winner! peels back the layers of Jones and Kilgrave’s pasts.

The supporting characters, throughout the confronting, visceral run, succinctly off-set Jones’ sickening, ever-increasing aura. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is a well-natured, charming character with scores to settle of his own. Sadly, however, after several gruelling twists and turns, the character takes an extended hiatus. Jones’ friend/sidekick Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) is a force of personality, utilising her sarcastic wit and personal quarrels to significant effect. Her on-again/off-again dynamic with Will Simpson (Wil Traval) sizzles during the show’s more intimate moments. Carrie Ann Moss gives a strong turn as the lesbian attorney stuck in Jones’ circle of hell.

Despite the exhaustive number of episodes, Jessica Jones is a detective-thriller and superhero-action smackdown in equal measure. Despite the focus on darkness, violence, and heavy subject matter, the show’s performances, tone, and intricate attention to detail establish its merits as a stand-alone series and extension of the MCU.

Verdict: ‘Dark and gritty’ done right.

Article – Movies to TV: Why People Are Moving to the Small Screen


Article: Movies to TV: Why People Are Moving to the Small Screen

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Sitcom Gold or Flash in the Pan?


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Article: 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Sitcom Gold or Flash in the Pan?

Is Episodes TV’s Best Sitcom?


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Article: 

Is Episodes TV’s Best Sitcom?

The Newsroom: Season 1 Review – News Crunch


Creator: Aaron Sorkin

Channel: HBO

Stars: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Sam Waterston


Genre: Political Drama

Premiere: June 24th, 2012

Country: USA


 

4½/5

Best part: Sorkin’s dialogue

Worst part: Some mildly uninteresting/distracting sub-plots

In a time of Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, and everything shoddy and manipulative in between, there no longer seems to be a place for serious journalism. I may be a little biased, but I feel this concern is of grave importance to everyone on Earth. Thankfully, smart people still exist in L.A. and are trying to get this issue out to the masses. One of these rare few is Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin, Oscar-winning writer known for such TV shows/movies as The Social Network and The West Wing, is a bitingly harsh writer/creator and one of Hollywood’s most controversial people. Having covered political and social issues in other works, The Newsroom Season 1 is yet another Sorkin rant transformed into a polarising HBO series.

Jeff Daniels.

In the last few years, HBO has transformed itself from a friendly network into the hub of nail-biting and thought-provoking TV (confirmed with the shift from shows like Sex and The City to shows like Game of Thrones). This bold and unflinching network has stood its ground over the past four years to raise the quality of TV above film. On the same level of quality as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Girls, The Newsroom is an edgy and life affirming show that is unafraid to stand up for good ol’ fashioned values/principles/ethics. In true Sorkin fashion, it starts off with a hilarious, mean-spirited yet truthful rant.The first episode’s prologue depicts its lead character, self-confessed wildcard and popular Atlantic Cable News (ACN) anchorman Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), sitting in on a University seminar bored out of his skull. It’s at this point that Sorkin’s agenda becomes startlingly obvious, and McAvoy becomes his well-dressed avatar. After a sorority girl’s rather naive, and Independence Day-level jingoistic, question rings throughout the theatre, McAvoy snaps at the girl, the other panelists, and the people of America for turning the United States into a backward and lazy nation. This tirade may seem harsh, but the show, and the viewer’s understanding of it, is aided by McAvoy truthful words. His listing of embarrassing statistics, and advice for how the US can return to prosperity, is nothing short of awesome. After this stunt, McAvoy’s nemesis, Mckenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), is hired by ACN news division president and McAvoy’s best friend Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston). What follows, in the season’s 10 episodes, is a gruelling set of events stemming from returning McAvoy’s show ‘News Night’ to its glory days.

Emily Mortimer.

From the opening scene, you can tell that the show’s goals and messages are in good faith. By giving News Night some room to breathe, the hurriedly established team of journalists can find reasons for changing the show. Sorkin is a blunt and witty screenwriter. By taking the reins of this topical premise, Sorkin can throw his intelligent views into each episode. His views are relevant and relatable, but it can be a bit overbearing at times. His pro-liberal and anti-tea party movement agenda suggests that Sorkin is someone who is brashly subjective and condescending. Despite this, there are many intuitive morals that come out of each episode (“I’m a registered Republican, I only seem Liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.”) Generation Y is targeted and supported in The Newsroom. Despite Sorkin’s rough yet honest stance on tabloid media and law-breaking (News of the World’s actions, in particular), he gives the younger characters a chance to speak for themselves. Sorkin’s other media-based shows – Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – are very similar to The Newsroom. All three series’ strip away the fat and any sense of ‘Hollywood’ style to deliver one stirring and pacy episode after another. However, unlike the two aforementioned series’, The Newsroom stays on point and contains convincing situations/messages. The first episode ‘We Just Decided to’ is punchy and breezy right up until the final line. The episode follows McAvoy from one issue, whether they’re deeply personal or professional, to the next. Here, he’s described as a wavering spirit unable to control anything around him.

“…when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*uck you’re talking about! Yosemite?” (Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), The Newsroom).

Allison Pill.

Despite the second episode’s slight decline in quality and reverence, it still contains important issues that would be left well enough alone by any other writer/creator. Sorkin’s ‘coverage’ of factual news stories is engaging but slightly ham-fisted. His research and attention to detail is fulfilling, but he seems to be pulling a middle finger when it isn’t required. I’m sure journalists went to as much, if not more, trouble to cover the 2010 BP oil disaster than Sorkin claims. What does work, however, is the crackling dialogue. Despite using the 1930s rat-a-tat dialogue in everything he writes, there are many laugh-out-loud lines that some up every vital conflict occurring this season. His dialogue leaves no stone unturned as many lines tear down our reliance on social media and pop-culture (“Was she really not ashamed to say she had ‘Bieber fever’?”) McAvoy’s bafflement over the world’s love of reality TV is hysterical and references to Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa are top notch. However, Sorkin’s snazzy dialogue establishes every character as being a little too smart for their own good. The shouting matches are pacy and enjoyable, but are a tad unrealistic. The character actor driven cast does an amazing job with the many tongue tying lines and problem-filled characters. Daniels delivers an astonishing performance as the damaged and intelligent McAvoy. His rapport with Mortimer sends sparks, and occasionally inanimate objects, flying. Pill, Waterston, Dev Patel, and Olivia Munn are solid in supporting roles that hopefully will be developed to a much greater extent in season 2.

With a smart sense of humour and passionate characters, The Newsroom is an underrated and enthralling political-drama. Continuing HBO’s stellar run of earnest, well-crafted TV, it’s the only news-related show that isn’t afraid to say: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” (only fitting seeing as it’s similar to Network).

Verdict: Putting the ‘invest’ back into investigative journalism.