REVIEW: CARNIVAL ROW – SEASON 1

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)

Starring

Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad)
David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas)
Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors)
Andrew Gower (Outlander)
Karla Crome (Misfits)
Jared Harris (Lincoln)
Indira Varma (Game of Thrones)
Arty Froushan (Knightfall)
Caroline Ford (Nekrotonic)

Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Alce Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Ariyon Bakare (Life)
Maeve Dermody (Ripper Street)
Jamie Harris (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Anna Rust (The Brothers Grimm)
Leanne Best (Cold Feet)
Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)
Tracey Wilkinson (Outlander)
David Nykl (Arrow)
Waj Ali (Red 2)
Scott Reid (Still Game)
Mark Lewis Jones (Troy)
Chloe Pirrie (War & Peace)

Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)Carnival Row is based on a feature film script by Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim), written when he was still in film school in North Carolina 17 years ago. He was working in the school library and found himself reading about everything from Celtic mythology to Jack the Ripper. All that fodder fed into a ten-page script for a short film about a constable in neo-Victorian London visiting a faerie brothel where a murder has taken place. His professor suggested the subject was better suited to a full feature, and Beacham worked on it in his spare time. An alumnus of his school forwarded the finished script to a few people in Hollywood, and it started winning fans. In fact, the script made the very first Hollywood Black List in 2005, an annual list of the “most liked” screenplays not yet produced.Orlando Bloom in Carnival Row (2019)It still took another 14 years to make it into production, and Beacham was convinced his dream project would never amount to anything. “I loved it very intensely,” he said. “Imagine feeling like you’re never going to do anything better than this, and it’s never going to be a thing.” The success of Pacific Rim in 2013 certainly helped bring the project to fruition; the same production company, Legendary Entertainment, ultimately bought the script in 2015 and reimagined it as a series for Amazon Prime. That turned out to be the perfect format in this golden age of big-budget prestige drama, which is far more friendly to this kind of extravagant, cinematic world-building.Cara Delevingne in Carnival Row (2019)Rycroft “Philo” Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) is an orphan of the Burgue, a human city co-existing in a world with other exotic lands that are home to various mystical creatures: faeries (“Pix”), fauns (“Pucks”), trolls (“Trows”), centaurs, werewolves (“Morroks”), and so forth. The races used to live peacefully in their respective regions, until war broke out with a mysterious group called The Pact. The humans of the Burgue sided with the fae to protect their homeland from the invaders. We learn in a standalone flashback episode that Philo met and fell in love with the faerie Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne) during his military service in her homeland of Tirnanoc. The lovers were torn apart when the Burgue forces retreated. Knowing Vignette would never leave him willingly, Philo faked his own death so she would evacuate with her fellow fae. Many of them ended up in the Burgue as refugees to escape being murdered by The Pact’s occupying forces.Orlando Bloom in Carnival Row (2019)Philo is now a police inspector working to solve a string of heinous murders, and anti-immigrant sentiment among humans in the Burgue is on the rise. “Our streets are safe no more!” one pompous politician declares, and there appears to be little Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris), current head of the Burgue’s Parliament-style government, can do to appease the opposition. Creatures are treated as subhuman, but Philo defends and protects the “critch” (a derogatory term) as best he can. When Vignette finally seeks refuge in the Burgue, after years helping smuggle others to safety, she is understandably peeved to find him alive and well. She becomes an indentured ladies’ maid to spoiled heiress Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant), whose brother Ezra (Andrew Gower) has lost much of the family fortune with his bad investments. She spies an opportunity to reverse their fortunes when wealthy puck Agreus Astrayon (David Gyasi) moves in across the street, and (reluctantly) befriends him, in defiance of all social norms.David Gyasi and Tamzin Merchant in Carnival Row (2019)There’s a polish to the finished eight-episode season that assures you the show knows exactly where it’s headed as the story unfolds, despite how complicated it is. In addition to the compelling central mystery of the murders, there are subplots involving political rivalries, religious and racial tension—particularly from those humans who worship The Martyr, a vaguely Christ-like figure, only hanged instead of crucified—romantic entanglements, a criminal underground, and dozens of smaller narrative flourishes that serve to further build out this fictional world. It is to Beacham’s and Amiel’s credit that the viewing experience is richly immersive rather than hopelessly confusing, and all those threads neatly converge in the finale. That polish extends to the expert pacing: the series takes its time to build toward the Big Reveal, but it is never overly plodding or ponderous.

 

REVIEW: THOR: THE DARK WORLD

CAST

Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak)
Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of The Lambs)
Christopher Eccleston (G.I. Joe)
Jaimie Alexander (The Last Stand)
Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Tadanobu Asano (Mongul)
Idris Elba (Pacific Rim)
Rene Russo (Get Shorty)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Sucide Squad)
Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls)
Stellan Skarsgard (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Clive Russell (Sherlock Holmes)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Chris Evans (Injustice)
Ophelia Lovibond (4.3.2.1)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Richard Brake (Doom)
Talulah Riley (Westworld)
Tony Curran (The Veteran)

 

Marvel's Thor: The Dark World (2013) Loki (Tom Hiddleston)

After learning about a new powerful foe that even Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must embark on another dangerous mission. This time, the risk is much more personal than it ever has been for this powerful hero. With both Asgard and Earth facing the chance of destruction, he must sacrifice everything by reuniting with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in order to save us all. This forces Thor to request help from the most unlikely of characters. If they aren’t able to stop the ominous danger that approaches us, then this universe will belong to the darkness.
screen-shot-2013-04-23-at-11-45-14-amPicking up a couple years after the previous Thor motion picture, this sequel gets started rather quickly. A bulk of the plot is carried from the perspective of Jane Foster and her intern, Darcy (Kat Dennings). While there’s still a small amount of humor to be seen in the beginning from Asgard, the majority of it comes from the humans.
The casting is excellent. Chris Hemsworth returns in the role of Thor.  Natalie Portman is pretty solid, as she always is. While this isn’t the most memorable performance of her career, she’s convincing as Jane Foster. Anthony Hopkins is a satisfying Odin, as he was in the previous picture. However, the real star of Thor: The Dark World is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He’s clearly one of the most charming and entertaining actors to portray a role from the Marvel universe. While he always seems to receive good material, Hiddleston’s delivery is simply unparalleled.thordarkworld_newsWhen it comes to the visual department, always expect incredible effects. Thor: The Dark World looks fantastic from its opening scene until the quick scene after the credits. The make-up, costumes, and special effects blend together in an impeccable fashion. These elements aid audiences in becoming a part of this universe.

 

REVIEW: CHILDREN OF DUNE

CAST

Alec Newman (Angel)
Julie Cox (Holby Blue)
Ian MacNeice (Ace Ventura 2)
Steven Berkoff (Red 2)
Daniela Amavia (Tatort)
James McAvoy (Wanted)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
P.H. Moriarty (Patriot Games)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jessica Brooks (Footballer’s Wives)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

Twelve years have passed since Paul Atreides had become Emperor at the end of Frank Herbert’s Dune by seizing control of the planet Arrakis and forcing a union with the former Emperor’s daughter, the Princess Irulan. Paul’s Fremen armies have since launched several bloody jihads to solidify his position. Deposed Emperor Shaddam IV and the rest of his family are exiled to Salusa Secundus, where his other daughter Princess Wensicia plots to restore House Corrino to power. The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, and the Tleilaxu also plot to overthrow Paul’s reign, aided even by rebel Fremen, who hate how Paul’s terraforming project is changing Arrakis and the traditional Fremen way of life. The Tleilaxu present Paul with a ghola in the likeness of his friend Duncan Idaho, killed during the events of Dune, but secretly conditioned to assassinate Paul when triggered by certain words.

Though his prescient abilities reveal the dangers ahead, Paul allows the conspiracies to succeed to avoid even worse consequences. He is attacked with a type of nuclear weapon called a stone burner and blinded, but still manages to “see” by following his prescient visions. Later, Paul’s concubine Chani gives birth to twins at a Fremen sietch but dies soon afterward. In Paul’s absence, his sister Alia purges the imperial city of the enemies of House Atreides. Meanwhile, the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale triggers Duncan’s conditioning; but the trauma of potentially killing Paul breaks his programming, and unlocks the memories of his original incarnation.MV5BMTg2MzIyNTg5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjIwNTk2._V1_His plan foiled, Scytale threatens the lives of Paul’s children; whereupon the unique nature of the infants (who, like Alia, were “pre-born”) allows Paul to see through the eyes of his son and kill Scytale. Following the Fremen tradition of abandoning the blind to the sandworms, Paul walks alone into the desert. His legacy secured, the twins and their future empire are now left in the care of Alia. Paul’s and Chani’s children Leto II and Ghanima are now young adults; Princess Irulan has protected their interests as her own. Now married to Duncan, Alia is still regent of Paul’s empire and official guardian of the children. Irulan’s sister Wensicia yearns for a return to power through her son, Farad’n. After a long absence, Paul and Alia’s mother Lady Jessica arrives on Arrakis to visit her family, but Alia fears that Jessica has resumed her allegiance to the Bene Gesserit and may be plotting against her. An individual known as “The Preacher” has surfaced in the capital, speaking against the decline of Muad’Dib’s religion into fear and ritualism; but Alia resists having him killed because she shares the popular belief that he may be a returned Paul.MV5BMTI1NzczMjMzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjcwNTk2._V1_Alia possesses the memories and personalities of her ancestors due to being pre-born, but has trouble controlling them; her internal struggles against the assertive voices manifest themselves in the form of paranoia and self-destructive behavior. The persona of the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Alia’s maternal grandfather whom she had herself killed, begins to influence her, and threatens to overtake Alia’s consciousness altogether. Jessica senses that Alia has become dangerous, and advises Irulan to spirit Leto and Ghanima away to safety. Later, after an assassination attempt on her, Jessica seeks sanctuary with Fremen dissidents. Wearing clothes presented to them by Wensicia, the twins escape into the deep desert but are soon cornered in a deadly trap of her devising.Wensicia’s plot to assassinate the Atreides heirs fails, but provides Leto an opportunity to fake his own death and buy time to overcome Alia. Alia’s madness reaches its peak as Baron Harkonnen’s grip on her consciousness strengthens and a civil war brews with the rebel Fremen. Leto returns from the deep desert, having used sandtrout — the larval form of Arrakis’ sandworms — to acquire the superhuman speed, strength, and invulnerability of the sandworms themselves.

As a means of forcing as-yet-neutral Fremen leader Stilgar to lead the rebels, Duncan murders Alia’s lover Javid in Stilgar’s sietch; Duncan knows that, according to Fremen custom, Stilgar must revenge-kill him, which will force Stilgar into active opposition to Alia. Leto encounters the Preacher, whose identity as his father is revealed. Leto’s prescient visions have convinced him that he must lead mankind along “the Golden Path” to ensure humanity’s ultimate survival.

With a political marriage arranged by Jessica between Ghanima and Wensicia’s son Farad’n, the Corrino heir identifies his mother as the mastermind behind Leto’s apparent death. Alia has Wensicia imprisoned, but Ghanima accepts Farad’n’s gesture as honest. With Stilgar’s forces moving in, father and son return to the capital city of Arrakeen, where the Preacher makes a final speech denouncing Alia and his own religion, and is fatally stabbed by a rebel Fremen. Leto confronts Alia at Ghanima’s wedding and defeats her. Alia then commits suicide rather than be controlled by the Baron. In the final scene, Ghanima tells Farad’n that while he will not be her husband, they may yet fall in love, and how she pities her brother for the pain and suffering he will endure in the long life he must expect.Children of Dune’s compelling plot is executed with precision by director Greg Yaitanes, who does a bang-up job over his predecessor, John Harrison. As a matter of fact, though Dune Messiah’s story is naturally a bit weaker than Dune’s, the superb execution here makes it superior to any previous adaptations of Dune (it’s at least as good as the terrific miniseries, far better than the horrible Lynch film). The cinematography distinguishes itself with darker colors, while still maintaining the vibrancy the original miniseries had. Brian Tyler’s beautiful score is evocative, particularly during a wonderful montage segment of literal birth and death.