REVIEW: LOCKE & KEY – SEASON 1

 

Locke & Key (2020)

Starring

Jackson Robert Scott (IT)
Connor Jessup (Falling Skies)
Emilia Jones (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Sherri Saum (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Griffin Gluck (Why Him?)
Darby Stanchfield (Waitress)
Laysla De Oliveira (The Gifted)
Petrice Jones (IBoy)
Thomas Mitchell Barnet (Run This Town)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Asha Bromfield (Full Out)
Bill Heck (The Alienist)
Kevin Alves (Shadowhunters)
Genevieve Kang (Impulse)
Hallea Jones (Let It Snow)
Kolton Stewart (The Expanse)
Chris Britton (Riverdale)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Felix Mallard (Neighbours)
Joy Tanner (Mutant X)
Coby Bird (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid)

bunny_hat_rawgoseiger_movie_189872f8-mkv_snapshot_18-44_2013-01-03_15-08-19After nearly a decade of failed attempts to bring a live-action version of Locke & Key to life, Netflix has finally delivered the goods, but was it worth the wait? Based on the graphic novel of the same name written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, the series centers on the Locke children, Tyler (Connor Jessup), Kinsey (Emilia Jones), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and their mother Nina (Darby Stanchfield), who move to their ancestral home of “Keyhouse” after the family’s patriarch, Rendell (Bill Heck), is murdered.sentai1498Fans of the comic book’s graphic violence and creepy visuals may be a bit disappointed that Netflix’s version leans more into the whimsical aspects of Hill’s narrative and less on the terror and bloodshed. However, if the streaming giant’s goal is to appeal to a larger audience, then I think the series succeeds with some terrific set-pieces, aesthetics, and performances from the leading cast that make Season 1’s 10-episode arc a worthy binge.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_One of the standout characters in Locke & Key is not an actual person, but the house itself. Big props to the production designers (Rory Cheyne and David Blass) for creating a location that truly feels alive. Every room is meticulously detailed with fascinating little trinkets and decor that add a layer of mystery to the story, and may even cause you to pause on particular scenes just take in all of the details. Keyhouse is home to several magical keys, each with their own unique abilities.MV5BNmY1MWIxYjUtYWJhMy00MGE3LWFlNDgtY2Q2ZjcyMmZlMmYwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDM2NDM2MQ@@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_While siblings Tyler and Kinsey do have their own adventures with the keys, it’s their younger brother Bode who has the most fascinating encounters with their magic in Season 1. Since this version of Locke & Key is a little more family-friendly than the comics, Bode’s youthful exuberance after discovering each key is palpable and honestly infectious. Scott portrays Bode with just the right amount of innocence and wonder without ever making him too precocious. Tyler and Kinsey’s adventures in the first half of the season (when they’re not teaming up with Bode) are less pivotal to the overall story and are usually relegated to high school dramaaaa like using the keys to get revenge on “mean girls” or trying to impress a potential love interest. These high school hijinks occasionally make the show feel more like a CW teen drama than an ambitious mystery, and Locke & Key feels far more engaging when it leans into its fantastical elements.34d785dd-541d-4fd2-a32d-a66cdaa3b1b2-locke_107_unit_01540rcOne particular standout on that front is the “Head Key,” which enables the series to get creative with its visuals, while also playing with body horror. The key is inserted into the back of someone’s neck to literally open the door to their mind, which then allows a person to relive important memories, or add bits of information they might want to remember at a later date. Everyone’s mind palace looks different depending on their life experiences; Bode’s is like a large playground/arcade, while Kinsey’s is a giant shopping mall. Even better, the Head Key gives the viewer insightful glimpses into the history of the Locke family. After their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances, the three Locke siblings and their mother move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, which they discover is full of magical keys that may be connected to their father’s death. As the Locke children explore the different keys and their unique powers, a mysterious demon awakens — and will stop at nothing to steal them. From Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House), the series is a coming-of-age mystery about love, loss, and the unshakable bonds that define family.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548ROne of the most emotionally stirring aspects of the series is its effective use of flashbacks, which allows the audience to see the kids interacting with their father, adding believable weight and grief to those relationships. These scenes are great character-building moments for the kids and are so well-realized, it’s easy to forget this is all happening because of a magical key. This confident blend of fantasy and real-world drama is Locke & Key’s greatest strength. Where the series gets into trouble is when it tries to tackle too many narratives at once.0ba2db67-b2e5-417b-84b7-78cda90b8004-LOCKE_110_Unit_01548RThe series is simultaneously attempting to be a compelling family drama, supernatural thriller, murder mystery, and high school dramedy throughout Season 1, and by attempting to serve several masters, it never completely feels like a cohesive whole. While the family storyline and the fantasy elements involving the keys work well, other aspects of the plot aren’t quite as memorable. One example of this is Season 1’s villain, Laysla De Oliveira’s Dodge, a mysterious figure who torments the Locke family in the hopes of taking possession of their keys. The Canadian-born actress has an incredible on-screen presence that can be alternately charming or menacing, and Oliveira can flip that switch in an instant, giving the character a welcome sense of unpredictability. Her performance isn’t the problem, but the character’s progression suffers from the way the story has been changed from the graphic novel to appeal to a broader audience.f5e96db0-47b5-11ea-b359-b54a8360c96a_800_420As the central villain, you’d expect Dodge to be a truly terrifying figure, but even when she kills someone in a way that should be shocking in any other situation, the show often leans into the absurd humor of her actions rather than ramping up the tension, undercutting some of the show’s biggest scares. As much trouble as the Locke kids get into, it’s difficult to imagine something horrible happening to them, even with an antagonist like Dodge lurking in the shadows.
Screenshot-2020-02-04-at-18.01.58Netflix’s Locke & Key hits the mark when it comes to its slick visuals and a focus on the powerful bonds within the Locke family, anchored by an endearing performance from Jackson Robert Scott as Bode. However, the series struggles to instill any real terror from its main villain due to its focus on whimsy over horror. Having read the original graphic novel by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, it’s difficult not to ignore the differences in tone and subject matter when it comes to Netflix’s more family-friendly version. If the streamer is going broad with its adaption in order to make the series more accessible for viewers who have no history with the franchise, then on those terms, it succeeds. Bottom line, Locke & Key: Season 1 is an enjoyable binge that’s easily digestible for fans and newcomers alike, but those who were hoping for a wholly faithful adaptation may feel frustrated by some key changes.

REVIEW: THE GIFTED – SEASON 2

The Gifted (2017)

MAIN CAST

Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Sean Teale (Reign)
Natalie Alyn Lind (Gotham)
Percy Hynes White (Rupture)
Coby Bell (Burn Notice)
Jamie Chung (Office Christmas Party)
Blair Redford (Satisfaction)
Emma Dumont (Aquarius)
Skyler Samuels (Scream Queens)
Grace Byers (Empire)
Jason Davis (Reprisal)

Blair Redford in The Gifted (2017)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ray Campbell (Breaking Bad)
Danube Hermosillo (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Adam David Thompson (Glass)
Hayley Lovitt (Ant-Man)
Jeff Daniel Phillips (Westworld)
Frances Turner (Quantico)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Erinn Ruth (Billions)
Michael Luwoye (The Magicians)
Kamar de los Reyes (Sleepy Hollow)
Laysla de Oliveira (Izombie)
Anjelica Bette Fellini (Margot)
Tom O’Keefe (The Path)
Peter Gallagher (A Bad Moms Christmas)
Sumalee Montano (10 Clvoerfield Lane)
Jermaine Rivers (MacGyver)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Kate Burton (Max Payne)
Ken Kirby (Good Trouble)
Christopher Cousins (The Grudge 2)
Kathryn Erbe (Stir of Echoes)
Carsten Norgaard (The Three Musketeers)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)

Skyler Samuels in The Gifted (2017)The gifted is one of the most interesting shows on TV today. If only for the concepts on the show that overlap with our current political environment. I won’t lie the first episode did not captivate me, but it kept me interested long enough to get hooked by the second. The plot lines and the story keeps growing and getting better. To me that is due to the show’s premise a world with out the X men, more specifically Xavier. Professor X had land, money and political connections cause he was a rich white guy from an influential family. He used all of his assets to promote the welfare of mutant kind and support the Xmen, which he does long after his death as they still use his land. Now imagine a world without that influence no one rich or powerful helping you to promote the well being of your people. Got it good. That’s the Gifted. A group of people who decide to fight for equality in a world that does not want them, basically on their own.Jamie Chung and Blair Redford in The Gifted (2017)Their decisions good or bad in the face of their world is what keeps me coming back. Now to take a step back. The gifted is a little slow at times, there is not alot of action or enough for my taste for a show on mutants and it focuses a lot of time on the drama between characters til its almost soapy. But alot of that drama is tied to the premise of discrimination, alienation, xenophobia, abuse, trust and basic decency. The show continuing to get more action packed and the pace has considerably picked up with each episode especially in the second season. And probably the most important questions of all How do you fight for equality and compassion in a world devoid of it? and If there is no hope of wining is there a point in fighting? these and many other underlining questions give this show a great edge one they take advantage off. So try it, analyze it, love it the show is incredible. And it will get you to think and honestly I think thats something that a good sci fi show should do.

 

REVIEW: IZOMBIE – SEASON 4

iZombie (2015)

 

MAIN CAST

Rose McIver (Power Rangers RPM)
Malcolm Goodwin (American Gangster)
Rahul Kohli  (Happy Anniversary)
Robert Buckley (Killer Movie)
David Anders (Alias)
Aly Michalka (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Knepper (Cult)

iZombie (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jason Dohring (Veronica Mars)
Adam Kaufman (BUffy: TVS)
Jessica Harmon (The 100)
Bryce Hodgson (Kid Cannabis)
Robert Salvador (Arrow)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Jade Payton (Good Game)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
John Emmet Tracy (Fifty Shades Freed)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Linda Park (Star Trek Enterprise)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Ryan Devlin (Veronica Mars)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Christie Laing (Arrow)
Keenan Tracey (Bates Motel)
James Jordan (Veronica Mars)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Daniel Bonjour (After The Rain)
Adam Greydon Reid (Sanctuary)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
Ella Cannon (Supernatural)
Eddie Jemison (Waitress)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Laysla De Oliveira (The Gifted)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Carrie Anne Fleming (Supernatural)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Al Sapienza (House of Cards)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Nemo Cartwright (Descendants)
Ty Wood (Chilling Advnetures of Sabrina)

 

Rose McIver in iZombie (2015)Across its first three seasons, iZombie was largely Veronica Mars with zombies and that was no bad thing. It was consistently entertaining, offered a fresh take on the overpopulated zombie genre and had a cast of characters you genuinely engaged with, not to mention a hugely underrated lead turn from Rose McIver, who absolutely nailed every single personality she was asked to inhabit.  From superhero-brain to old-man-brain and many more in between, Liv’s (McIver) various personalities after eating the brains of victims to solve their murders have been a large part of the show’s quirky charm.Robert Buckley, Rose McIver, Aly Michalka, and Rahul Kohli in iZombie (2015)Yet you had the sense it was always building to a game-changing event – which came in the season-three finale as the existence of zombies was revealed to the world. Following a time jump, season four started with Seattle becoming the walled city of New Seattle as the US government contained the zombie outbreak, setting up a season-long conflict between zombies and humans that looks set to explode in the season four finale.More importantly though, the season has upped the stakes for Liv, where she’s not just a crime-solving zombie any more, meaning that the ‘Brain of the Week’ structure has taken a bit of a backseat. It’s a big change that is good for the show, especially now that it’s been renewed for a fifth and final season by The CW.iZombie (2015)This season has seen Liv become the underground leader Renegade after the previous leader was brutally executed, smuggling sick humans into New Seattle and scratching them to save them so they can start a new life as a zombie. It’s put her in the sights of Fillmore-Graves, who are responsible for controlling the population in New Seattle, with the penultimate episode seeing her turn herself in to protect her boyfriend Levon (Daniel Bonjour). Liv’s arc has helped to keep the show fresh, immune to the problems of predictability that can affect long-running crime procedurals due to the repetitive structure. Instead we have a show whose morally complex central storyline has a genuine sense of peril – tricky when your main character is a zombie, even though we can’t imagine Liv will be killed off in the season-four finale.iZombie (2015)The big change hasn’t been without its issues, though, as some overstuffed episodes in the second half of season four struggled to find the right balance between quirky and serious. However, when the show could easily have rested on its laurels, it decided to change things up. Surely it’s better for an established show to rip up the status quo? It’s not like fans haven’t had the ‘Brain of the Week’ to enjoy, either, as Liv has savoured hopeless-romantic-brain, germaphobic-brain and pick-up-artist-brain among others, and the rest of the cast have got in on the act too (Major’s wrestler-brain remains a highlight). The only difference is that these are now just the delicious sides to the meatier main course of the season.b7dab6_928eb416b1fb4db898d56136b89713f0~mv2And with co-creator Rob Thomas revealing before the show was renewed that he needed just one more season to get to the “end of our story”, iZombie’s move into a more serialised storytelling can pay dividends in the final season as it’s clear that it’s all been building to a planned resolution.izombie-season-4-finale-1111048-1280x0That’s likely to be the discovery of a workable zombie cure, and Ravi had a breakthrough in the penultimate episode – but iZombie doesn’t need to be cured. It’s never felt more alive.