REVIEW: DISENCHANTMENT – PART 1

Disenchantment (2018)

MAIN CAST

Abbi Jacobson (The Lego Ninjago Movie)
Nat Faxon (Life of The Paerty)
Eric Andre (2 Broke Girls)

Nat Faxon, Eric André, and Abbi Jacobson in Disenchantment (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Billy West (Futurama)
Maurice LaMarche (Team America)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Matt Berry (Christopher Robin)
Jeny Batten (Discount Fitness)
Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh)
Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh)
Lucy Montgomery (Badly Dubbed Porn)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)

In the canon of shows created by Matt Groening, Netflix’s Disenchantment is markedly closer to Futurama than The Simpsons. Developed by Groening and golden age Simpsons showrunner Josh Weinstein, this foray into a medieval fantasy world starts small on a big canvas, then starts to paint outwards. Although it quickly develops into an ensemble sitcom, this approach starts with a more straightforward protagonist. As the first daughter of the financially embattled kingdom of Dreamland, Princess Bean (voiced by Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson) is a single young woman who longs for some individual freedom outside of her landed status.But like Homer Simpson and Bender B. Rodriguez before her, she’s more interested in having a drink and a good time than singing to animals like other fantasy princesses. Much to the chagrin of her dad, King Zøg (John DiMaggio at his most John DiMag-nificent), Bean spends her days tooling around the kingdom and getting into misadventures with her elf friend Elfo (Nat Faxon) and her personal demon Luci (Eric Andre).4E7C158100000578-0-image-a-7_1532261217715The first season of ten episodes landed on Netflix. Unlike Groening’s previous shows, Disenchantment is lightly serialised, with more plot elements recurring across episodes than his usual network sitcom mode of restoring the status quo at the end of the half-hour. The extra-long first episode, A Princess, An Elf And A Demon Walk Into A Bar, ends on a cliffhanger that’s picked up in the following episode, but it appears as if the continuing story elements wax and wane throughout the run.disenchantment-netflix-escape-from-dreamland-excl-globalFunnily enough, the show is immediately better when it hews closer to the running time of a Netflix show. If this were going out on a traditional network, it could be even tighter, but the marked uptick in comedy from the first episode to the second is in part due to it being ten minutes shorter. Creative freedom is great and all, but like BoJack Horseman and Kimmy Schmidt before it, this shows why a quicker running time is generally a better thing for TV comedy. The other issue that Disenchantment has to overcome early on is finding a unique selling point. From Monty Python to Shrek, plenty of other creators have ploughed the fantasy-comedy trough before now, so it takes a couple of episodes for the show to find its groove.Disenchantment-photo-screenshot-600x361This is positioned as “Simpsons meets Game Of Thrones” and you can definitely see the influence of the latter show. In the first seven episodes alone, there are marriages, incestuous ruling couples, bloody coups, murderous plots, and more. Dreamland’s castle even has a handy Moon Door like the one at the Eyrie, which plays in much the same way as the trapdoor in Mr Burns’ office. Groening and Weinstein also push past their network constraints with some more violent slapstick than we’re used to seeing from their shows, even in the bloodiest Itchy & Scratchy shorts. We get a taste of this in the very first episode when Elfo leaves his happy woodland realm for the first time and learns about war by crossing the battlefield of an epic clash between gnomes and ogres, and over the following episodes, there are a number of laugh-out-loud climactic sight gags to enjoy.disenchantmentWhile the show sometimes leans a little hard on this, its most endearing quality is that it never gets overpowered by any of the weaker stuff, because it always has so much going on per episode. In the strongest, best-plotted episode of this run, Bean starts out attempting to find a job and contribute to society but winds up in the Dreamland equivalent of a slasher movie riff, which also crosses into the territory of Get Out, Indiana Jones, and a well-known Grimm fairy tale. Theshow is certainly more polished than Groenings other shows were at their outset, but it’s doomed to suffer from being compared directly to either of them. It’s not as consistently funny all the time, but it hits the ground running and its characters and style are more than entertaining enough to get us interested in further adventures.

REVIEW: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON 2: SWORD OF DESTINY

CAST

Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)
Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Harry Shum Jr. (Stomp The Yard)
Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Hotel Mumbai)
Jason Scott Lee (Soldier)

After eighteen years of solitude, renowned warrior-maiden Shu Lien emerges from retirement and travels to Peking, where the Green Destiny—the legendary sword of her deceased love Li Mu Bai—is located. In the forest, Shu Lien’s carriage is attacked by several warriors from the West Lotus clan. As she fights them, a masked horseman comes to her aid, and together they defeat the attackers, revealing one’s identity to be a young man called Wei Fang. At the tower of the West Lotus warlord Hades Dai, a young woman named Snow Vase arrives asking to join his ranks. As Dai approaches, she draws a sword and attempts to kill him, although he easily fights her off, and she flees. As Wei Fang makes his way through the forest, he is approached by a blind enchantress, who orders him to take her to Dai. She tells Dai that his great sword is surpassed by the Green Destiny, and prophesies that if he is to rule the Martial World, he must obtain the sword. Dai is reluctant to storm the home of the emperor’s brother, but the enchantress tells him to send Wei Fang, as the boy and the sword are bound by destiny itself.

Shu Lien arrives in Peking, and is taken to the house of Sir Te, a man like a father to her, who has recently died. Te’s son greets her and reveals that the Green Destiny is kept on display at the house, also recalling the unmentioned love between Li Mu Bai and Shu Lien. That night as Wei Fang breaks into the house and attempts to steal the sword, Snow Vase appears and fights him. During the fight, Snow Vase sees a birthmark on Wei Fang’s chest, which distracts her and allows him to escape. She calls for help and Shu Lien arrives and captures the boy. Snow Vase approaches Shu Lien and asks her to train her in the Iron Way. At a tavern, Meng Sizhao (known as Silent Wolf in the West), the horseman who came to Shu Lien’s aid, posts a warrant for warriors to join him protecting the House of Te. One warrior offers his twenty swordsmen for a high price, and attacks when rebuffed. Four warriors join Silent Wolf in the fight, and he recruits them to his cause: Flying Blade of Shantung; Thunder Fist Chan, famed in Zhejiang; Silver Dart Shi, famed in Fuzhou; and Turtle Ma, famed in that tavern.

Shu Lien begins Snow Vase’s training. That night, Silent Wolf and his warriors arrive at the Te compound. Shu Lien is shocked to see Silent Wolf, her former betrothed, as he was thought to have been killed by Hades Dai many years before. He explains that he was in love with Shu Lien, but knew that Mu Bai was her true love, and had feigned his demise to seek a life of enlightenment in the mountains, as he knew that as long as he was alive, Li Mu Bai would not have asked Shu Lien for her hand. Hades Dai rages that Wei Fang has failed in his raid, and sends his elite warrior, Mantis, to retrieve the sword. She arrives with her raiding party, and Silver Dart Shi and Turtle Ma are killed in the attack. Snow Vase attempts to free Wei Fang from his cage in the courtyard, but she is attacked by Mantis, and Wei Fang reveals the sword’s location. The blind enchantress fights Shu Lien in the sword chamber, killing Sir Te’s son when Shu Lien refuses to relinquish the sword.

As the inhabitants of the House of Te mourn the loss of their dearest companions, Snow Vase explains her connection to Wei Fang’s past. His birth mother was the legendary swordswoman Han Mei. However, as a baby, he was swapped for the infant Snow Vase by her mother, a concubine. Han Mei raised Snow Vase as her own daughter, but never stopped looking for her son. Eventually finding him at West Lotus, she was mortally wounded by Hades Dai and, as she died, implored Snow Vase to find Wei Fang.

Knowing that Dai will send people to kill Wei Fang, Snow Vase frees him, and is horrified to later hear that he has stolen the sword. Silent Wolf tracks the boy down and they fight on a frozen lake. Wei Fang’s master, Iron Crow, arrives and wounds Silent Wolf, allowing Wei Fang to escape and reach West Lotus. Wei Fang offers the sword to Hades Dai, but then attempts to kill him with it to avenge his mother. Shu Lien and the others arrive and fight Dai’s army. Shu Lien fights the enchantress and kills her, using her skills to see through the witch’s illusions. Mantis kills Flying Blade and Thunder Fist, then fights Snow Vase, who defeats her but is badly wounded. Silent Wolf fights Hades Dai on the tower, eventually killing the warlord with his own sword as he reaches for the Green Destiny. Snow Vase survives her injuries, and joins Shu Lien, Silent Wolf and Wei Fang as they take the Green Destiny to the Wudang Mountains where it will be kept safe yet again.Overall a very enjoyable movie, which really needs heart to appreciate, it may be slow at times but it truly allows audiences to be observant and to look at the minor details in such a major motion picture.It would be even better if you already read the original book by Wang Du Lu or the new novel by Justin Hill, as it covers more motivations and intentions clearly. Therefore, do not just view this as a sequel to one of the most successful Wu-Xia films ever made, appreciate this movie and take it as a film of its own, and you will enjoy it thoroughly.

REVIEW: THE SPY (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen in The Spy (2019)

Starring

Sacha Baron Cohen (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Noah Emmerich (Jane Got a Gun)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Hadar Ratzon-Rotem (Homeland)

imagesIn Netflix’s new six-part miniseries The Spy, Sacha Baron Cohen plays Eli Cohen, an Israeli intelligence agent who spent years in the Sixties undercover in Syria under the name Kamel Amin Thaabet. It’s a big dramatic showcase for an actor best known for broad sketch-comedy characters like Borat and Ali G. While comic actors are generally better equipped to play drama than serious performers are to be funny, not everyone has the skill to cross that stylistic divide. But Baron Cohen couldn’t have found a role more well-suited to his gifts and career to date. The Spy is a thriller played entirely straight, but it also feels like Baron Cohen’s persona with vastly higher stakes. His specialty, after all, is to adopt a character like Borat, or like Who Is America? conspiracy theorist Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., and portray him out in the wild, opposite strangers who have to believe the character is real for the joke to work. If someone sees through one of Baron Cohen’s disguises, everybody just leaves and the sketch gets left on the cutting room floor, whereas Eli Cohen had to stay in character for months on end, with his life at stake if he slipped. But the basic principle is the same.MV5BNmJkYmNlMDEtMGQ4ZC00MjVmLWI3OTgtMzZjZTgwNzAxZTUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQTNwaW5nZXN0._V1_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_Created by Gideon Raff (whose Israeli drama Prisoners of War was remade here as Homeland), The Spy doesn’t dwell on the parallels between the careers of the two (unrelated) Cohens. Still, it’s hard not to see them, particularly once Eli goes from nervous rookie operative to a smooth operator who charms his way into the highest echelons of Syria’s government and society. And while there are times in Baron Cohen’s sketch career where it seems unlikely that no one is questioning the reality or a Borat or Bruno, he seems utterly plausible as Kamel, a wealthy importer/exporter who throws the best parties in Damascus.the-spy-feat-960x430It is, by design, a decidedly unflashy performance. Eli’s goal was to make powerful friends, but to do it by blending in rather than standing out. As his anxious handler Dan Peleg (Noah Emmerich) puts it, “Noticeable spies end up dead.” Baron Cohen is convincingly understated as both Eli and Kamel in a way that’s suited to the material, even if there are only brief flashes of a wider range. Most of those flashes come fairly late in the story, as Eli begins to wear down from years of being largely absent from the lives of wife Nadia (Hadar Ratzon Rotem) and the children he was able to conceive but not raise during his brief home visits, and from the constant danger that Dan keeps placing him in.The-Spy-Netflix-810x456Until those final chapters, The Spy is an effectively meat-and-potatoes espionage story, where the details of Eli’s mission are remarkable and taut enough to require little embellishment. But neither is there much in the way of the moral complexity you often find in this genre (including on Emmerich’s last TV spy role on The Americans). Eli never seems particularly conflicted about betraying all of the friends he makes as Kamel. There are occasional references to the idea that Eli, born in Egypt and darker of skin than many Israelis, is treated as a second-class citizen by the nation he is risking his life every day to protect — “You know what they see when they look at me,” he tells Nadia early on. “They see an Arab. That’s it. Jewish, yes, but just an Arab.” But Raff and his collaborators don’t dig too deep in that corner of their hero’s psyche. He is presented as a noble patriot who did his duty and missed his wife terribly, period.the-spy-2019-sacha-baron-cohen-netflix.The story is still enough to satisfyingly fill six hours, and Raff deploys some interesting stylistic touches along the way, like a muted color palette that occasionally creates the illusion we’re watching a black-and-white film from the period, or the way that Eli’s Morse code dispatches to Israel leap onto the screen so that we’re not just watching him tap on a telegraph machine for minutes on end. And Baron Cohen is ably backed by a supporting cast full of actors — including Emmerich, Waleed Zuaiter (as Syrian military officer and politician Amin Al-Hafez), and Alexander Siddig (as a Syrian official who is rightly suspicious of Kamel from the start) — whose presence in a show like this is less surprising than his own.Screenshot-2019-09-03-at-17.49.07-2The Spy won’t necessarily convince you that Baron Cohen will, like Robin Williams or Jim Carrey before him, prove to be just as potent at playing serious as he was going for belly laughs. But it’s a promising start if he wants to start disappearing into characters whose goals are more dangerous than a prank.

 

REVIEW: THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

Starring

Taron Egerton (Legend)
Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Donna Kimball (The Happytime Murders)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club)
Caitriona Balfe (Crush)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Harris Dickinson (The Darkest Minds)
Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)
Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Mark Strong (Shazam)
Theo James (Divergent)
Louise Gold (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jason Isaacs (Fury)
Simon Pegg (The Boys)
Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8)
Bendedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Harvey Fierstein (The Simpsons)
Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ralph Ineson (Ready Player One)
Alice Dinnean (The Happytime Murders)
Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars_
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)

Donna Kimball in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Dark Crystal is a tremendous filmmaking achievement that’s only a pretty good movie. A technical marvel, undoubtedly; definitive proof that film is a collaborative medium, and a formative experience for the devoted cult that saw it when they were young and have now passed it onto their children. But also a B-, B if you’re feeling generous. Like many other big-budget genre blockbusters flying in Star Wars’ contrails during the early 1980s—David Lynch’s Dune comes to mind—it puts a fully realized, authentically unearthly realm on the screen, and then fails to give that place much in the way of a narrative.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Another world, another time, in the age of Westeros: Netflix funds a return trip to Thra, winding the clock back to before the emergence of the heroic Jen and Kira, to an era when the elfin Gelfling and the monstrous Skeksis lived in tenuous (and, it turns out, entirely bogus) harmony. And a moment when the grand ambitions of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Brian and Wendy Froud, David Odell, and countless others are realized in The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance.Victor Yerrid in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)That original film is first and foremost a visual experience, and the imagery still takes precedence here: Age Of Resistance recreates Thra through further acts of practical-effects wizardry, a fantasia of forest glens, desert cliffs, underground caves, and castles both majestic and austere. The premiere episode leans into this (while also giving a good indication of the series’ pace) when it breaks from character introductions in order to send the camera corkscrewing through a glamour shot of the royal library favored by Gelfling princess Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Dinnean—with a handful of exceptions, the principal performances are a collaboration between the puppeteers on screen and actors in the recording booth). With the elbow room of a potentially ongoing series, the writers—led by Will Matthews and Jeffrey Addiss (the duo who developed the series) and seasoned genre TV vet Javier Grillo-Marxuach—get deliberate with their opening chapters, luxuriating in palace intrigue amongst the Skeksis and the establishment of the seven fractious clans of Gelfling.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)It’s dense going, until the outlines of the heroes’ journey snaps into focus, showing the intersecting quests of the curious noble Brea, disgraced guard Rian (Taron Egerton and Neil Sterenberg), and the compassionate subterranean-dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel and Beccy Henderson). It is not coincidental that Age Of Resistance hits its hot streak once these elements are in place—and after Deet acquires a sidekick: Hup (Victor Yerrid), one of The Dark Crystal’s diminutive and gibbering creatures known as Podlings. Hup has outsize chivalric aspirations, carries a spoon he calls a sword, and generally rules.Anya Taylor-Joy in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Age Of Resistance improves on its big-screen source material by giving viewers protagonists who are worth a damn; even Egerton—whose most interesting star turns to date have been primarily interesting because they’re bolstered by the Elton John-Bernie Taupin songbook—is an improvement over The Dark Crystal’s ineffectual, underwritten Baggins stand-in, Jen. But there’s a taller hurdle to clear in the Gelfling’s humanoid appearances, which even four decades of technological advances can’t pull from the depths of the uncanny valley. (It comes down to the eyes: Deet, with saucer-sized pupils suited to underground living, looks far enough from human for this to ever be a problem.) The effectiveness of the Age Of Resistance illusion can vary depending on the number of Gelfling on screen and the varying degrees to which their faces are articulated—large group scenes and Gelfling-to-Gelfling conversations occasionally have a ring of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson to them.Nathalie Emmanuel in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Thank heavens, then, for the Skeksis. A monument to the Frouds’ gnarly aesthetics and Henson’s lack of qualms about frightening the youngest members of his audience, the villains loom large over The Dark Crystal. In Age Of Resistance, they occupy a role akin to that of the Lannisters in Game Of Thrones: deeply out-of-touch aristocrats who believe power is their birthright, and whose extravagances and squabbles account for the series’ most amusing set-pieces. (In a playful casting choice, Cersei Lannister herself, Lena Headey, voices a Gelfling leader on the show.) They chance upon a fountain of youth when Thra’s all-powerful Crystal Of Truth sucks the life out of a Gelfling, leaving behind only her essence—which is discovered to have a rejuvenating effect. This corruption of the planet’s most precious resource coincides with the experiments the Skeksis Emperor (Jason Isaacs and Dave Chapman) conducts on a glowing, purple hole in the ground—a “darkening” that is both key to the series’ political subtexts and a regally hued thread in Age Of Resistance tapestry of mythological nonsense.Hannah John-Kamen and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Here, as in later in The Dark Crystal’s chronology, the ugliness of the Skeksis’ deeds manifests physically: the craggy sculpting of the puppets’ faces, their combination of avian and reptilian features, as if situated on the evolutionary scale from velociraptor to plain old raptor. They’re treated to new textures and terrors in Age Of Resistance. Sequences depicting their indulgences in the seven deadly sins don’t stray too far from their cinematic predecessors, but the staging and satirical edge remain sharp. A spa treatment brusquely interrupted by the similarly lumpy crone Aughra (Donna Kimball and Kevin Clash) is one of the first season’s comedic highlights.Victor Yerrid, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis’ role in Age Of Resistance is more encore than elaboration, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like there’s been all that much change in the ruling class skewered by the Skeksis’ chomping, preening, condescending grotesquery. They’re perfect adversaries and an essential energy, which director Louis Letterier amps up in extreme close-ups and off-kilter camera angles. They’re creepy and campy, and the production lines up a murderers’ row of hams to handle their shrieks and whimpers: Simon Pegg, making a meal of the Chamberlain’s scheming murmurs; Mark Hamill, twisting his strangled Joker vocalizations into those of a mad Scientist; Harvey Fierstein, a choice so deliciously on the nose, it’s practically a part of the puppet’s face. Imperious turns from Isaacs and Benedict Wong make sure that the characters’ true, evil nature is never too far from mind.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis play the hits, but they bring some newly goopy accessories and freshly terrifying rituals, too. Bubbling, oozing pustules dot the face of The Collector (Awkwafina and Helena Smee), and the second episodes culminates in a royal-chamber sequence primed to send a new generation ducking behind the couch. A fantastical ingenuity prevails throughout Age Of Resistance: With an eye toward portraying Thra as a fully natural world, Matthews, Addiss, Grillo-Marxuach and team devised Skeksis carriages that roll across the landscape on giant pillbug wheels and a secret message etched into the geological equivalent of an Edison cylinder. Frames burst with creatures familiar and unfamiliar—each of them charmingly, refreshingly tactile.Jason Isaacs in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)And this time around it’s in service of a satisfyingly told tale with resonant themes of truth and rebellion. Age Of Resistance is the best type of YA fantasy fiction, engrossing and escapist and full of hidden depths, ideal for viewers weaned on Harry Potter and The Legend Of Zelda but not quite ready for George R.R. Martin. There is a complexity at play, particularly in the arc of Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Helena Smee), Brea’s sister whose loyalties and worldview are tested as word of the Skeksis’ treachery spreads. There are mystical MacGuffins and blind storytelling alleys littered about, but they’re far outweighed by the intrepid thrust of the Gelfling uprising and every thought of “How did they pull that off?” For decades, bands of true believers have sung the song of Thra; now, thanks to Age Of Resistance, that melody carries with the strength, distance, and richness the Dark Crystal concept has always deserved.

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 3

Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (2017)

MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Shazam)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Grace Saif (Doctors)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Timothy Granaderos (Runaways)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Anne Winters (Mom and Dad)
Chelsea Alden (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Tyler Barnhardt (Tales From The Loop)
Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)
Steven Weber (2 broke Girls)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)
Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow)
Parminder Nagra (God Friended Me)
Raymond J. Barry (Alias)
Derek Luke (Glory Road)

freepressjournal_2019-08_7de0229f-0b42-4203-b9cb-20cb73cfefb8_13Netflix’s popular series 13 Reasons Why has returned with its third season. The show has now shifted its focus from Hanna Baker and Jessica Davis’ rape to their abuser, Bryce Walker. The showrunners have tried hard to stay away from the controversies they stirred up with the first and second season. However, they do not deviate from highlighting bullying in schools and its consequences. While Season 1 makes you reflect upon your actions, Season 2 established that there’s another side to every story. Season 3 tries to explain that nothing’s black and white.Screenshot-2019-08-23-at-08.09.26-2The new season picks up right after the events of Liberty High Spring Fling when a gunned Tyler Down came in school premises to hurt his abusers. Since then, things have not changed much. These students are damaged as before but are trying to recover. But before they could recuperate completely, they are struck with the news of Bryce Walker’s death after a big Homecoming game. Everyone has a reason to kill the bad guy of Liberty, but you aren’t really sure who did it. The entire season is built on solving Bryce’s murder. During the course of the investigation, you realize nobody’s clean. They all have something they lied about. The trial and the revelations in season 1 and 2 have impacted these students a lot, especially Bryce Walker.cuka1jql6m5rndkuwaovFor a long time, we have seen that Bryce bullied students and he raped Hanna Baker, Jessica Davis and many other girls. He is convicted for sexually assaulting women but gets only 3 months of probation. In a way, we are habitual of seeing him in a certain way. Season three shakes that up and we finally see the other side of him. The good side of Bryce. The new season also progresses on Jessica front screening her journey from being a victim to a survivor. The girl who couldn’t gather enough courage to speak up until the end of season 2, leads the voices of survivors. Justin Prentice and Alisha Boe as Bryce and Jessica, offer intriguing, emotionally complex and layered performances. Prentice’s breakdown as Bryce will make you grieve for him despite all that he’s done in the past. Boe, on the other hand, stuns with her transformation. Her confidence is both rattling and inspiring.13rw-e1566448279569Season 3 also introduces new character Ani (Grace Saif), who’s kind of a replacement of Hanna Baker (Katherine Langford) to lead the plot. She does her job fairly well, to say the least. Apart from Bryce and Jessica, nobody is seen in a different light that you haven’t seen before. Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette) is the same caring friend we have been watching since two seasons and Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla is also the same good looking tough guy with mysteries. The showmakers have made the transitions between timelines smoother than ever. Music wise, season three gets a remarkable soundtrack like its previous seasons and some of them will definitely make it to your playlist. If you have followed the show, 13 Reasons Why season 3 is likable. With lesser violence and more voice, it gives us some pondering moments. The new season is definitely better than the second one, however, the makers do not entirely reach the benchmark they had set with the first season.

REVIEW: NO GOOD NICK – PART 2

Starring

Siena Agudong (Star Falls)
Lauren Lindsey Donzis (Liv and Maddie)
Kalama Epstein (The Fosters)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Sean Astin (Lord of The Rings)no-good-nick-2-1024x683

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christine Ko (Upload)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Kyla-Drew (Peppermint)
Sanai Victoria (The Paynes)
Gus Kamp (All Night)
Gigi Rice (Madison Air)
Ben Azelart (Brobot)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Marco Sanchez (Super 8)
Eddie McClintock (Warehouse 13)

nogoodnick001-696x392No Good Nick is exactly what it advertises itself as… A family show and like any family show there are moments that are downright cringey. I mean first off with Sabrina the teenage witch (Melissa Joan Hart) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) playing Mr. and Mrs Thompson we already have two VERY big talents showing us exactly why they are some of our favorites every time they are on the screen. With some new faces joining them we can’t help but fall for the Thompsons, and feel compassion and empathy for Nick and the Farelli family. On top of that it is a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times, and there is some EXCELLENT top notch beautiful cinematography. I remember a couple of times thinking….wow that was a beautifully shot scene the cameraman nailed it….and then there was also some scenes where I was left scratching my head wondering what they were thinking. All in all though it is most definitely worth a watch the Thompson family just might be your new favorite television family.no-good-nick-siena-agudong-ftrThough you can feel the inexperience at times with some of the newer actors and actresses we are seeing on this show, they still manage to do an excellent job drawing you in. That being said, addressing the “Cringe” in the title there was times when extras, or even the main core actors just felt stiff and forced and it would really take you out of the moment. Now typically we see this a lot in family shows aiming at a wide aged audience, as you do tend to need to spell it out a bit more for some of the particularly younger audiences. That being said it would come across as a bit of…and I don’t even want to say it but…overacting…yayomg-no-good-nick-quiz-2If your still with me though, those moments aren’t the heart of the show and they pass as quickly as they come. It took me some time: I initially found the character Molly grating, however by the end of the show my heart was breaking for her and I think this was done intentionally after all she is supposed to be the social justice warrior (note that I’m necessarily saying that is a bad thing!!) versus her brother who was more reserved, and Mitt Romney like, a future presidential candidate perhaps, so the point was for Molly to be a bit in your face, and guilt tripping but ultimately a voice for a better tomorrow and without spoiling anything I believe they even address issues like blind belief in your values without taking into consideration how that would also affect others on the other side of the fence, with Molly learning a few hard life lessons about herself. (As well as the rest of the Thompson family but again I don’t want to go too in depth, you’ll enjoy it more watching it for yourself) Even smaller rolled characters from the first season really shined in the second. For example Jeremy’s friend and….lets call him security guar(perhaps in the future: vice president) truly shone with some comedic gold moments.1av53I4F5ftHjHKNUOF5q61f7BsSiena Agudong who plays Nick Farelli, makes her debut as head lining star in this show and though she comes off a bit doe-eyed, and she is definitely one of the actresses that has a few (and I truly mean few) cringey acting moments. I would write this one off to inexperience though and on the whole she did an amazing job and it very well may have been in the script or acting directions anyways. By the end of the show you can’t help but feel attached to her character and rooting for her. All in all it’s definitely worth a watch, I don’t however seeing this show having a very long run, the story has already ran most of its course but does setup for a potential third season leaving a few questions unanswered BUT I think this story still has more life in it and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it ends after only a few seasons. After all how many shows did we see drag on too long until they became shells of what they formerly were and with endings that left us unsatisified? If it ended right here and now at season 2 they wrapped it up quite nicely and we would have some closure, but I for one actually am looking forward to more. Everything I have criticized was improving as the show went on so it stands to reason it would continue that trend.

REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 3

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CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)
Geena Davis (The Fly)

juijujijooShe-Ra is making a return for its third outing on August 2, but we had the chance to watch all six episodes ahead of its premiere. And boy, is it a doozy. Getting into She-Ra was something of a slow burn for me. It took the more sedate pace of the second season, coupled with the fleshing out of several character ties and relationships, for it to really find its footing, but notching the action back somewhat paid dividends as the series heads into its third outing. The foundations upon which She-Ra has been built don’t just crumble away over the six episodes that showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her exceptionally talented and dedicated team have delivered to us. They’re obliterated.she-ra-huntara-adora-glimmer-bow-season-3And I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. In fact, it’s a huge reinvigoration and looks set to take the entire show in a direction I can’t say anyone will have been expecting. It is complex, layered, and genuinely has me anticipating where it might go next — especially after the bomb-drop of a cliffhanger that the third season leaves you on. A cliffhanger that creeps up, slowly, over the course of the six episodes, and has been embedded into the DNA of the show since day one. It was just that the pieces never really come together until the third season plays out in all of its nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat glory.she-ra-season-3-images-3But the foundation that is rocked, more than any other, is the one upon which She-Ra built the bulk of its storytelling. Its true core: The relationship between Catra and Adora. It was always going to reach a tipping point, and if you thought season 2 took them right to the precipice, the third pushes them beyond the point of no return. Because, when it comes down to it, the actions of both characters, their choices, and the consequences of them irrevocably changes who and what they are to each other.  Where Adora searches for the truth — and, in some cases, finds it — about her origins and the power of She-Ra, Catra seeks to undermine her at every turn. Going back to who they were, together and apart, prior to Adora leaving the Fright Zone is never going to be possible, and both characters come to terms with what that means — with disastrous results.4201e13e-bb2c-4b04-8c4d-08e8707127b5-she-raBreadcrumbs of resentment have been littered between Catra and Adora over the course of many, many episodes. And that finally comes home to roost. The biggest catalyst being the wild-card of Shadow Weaver. The relationship that both Catra and Adora have with their pseudo-mother-figure is complex, steeped in years of emotional abuse and manipulation, but also a twisted sense of love and loyalty. Catra craves acceptance, validation, and yes, to an extent, an unconditional sense of love, but is always passed over in favor of Adora. The favorite child. In Catra’s eyes, at least. It introduces a pressure point that is something of a hot-button. People choosing Adora over her. More than anything, the need to beat Adora in all ways, shapes and forms drives and motivates Catra — when she falls, fails, and repeats the cycle, Catra gradually has nothing left to lose. And there is nothing more dangerous than a character who has nothing to lose.she-ra-animation-4And, in She-Ra’s case, that danger is more than just the degradation of a relationship — or, in some cases, several. It is universe-altering. Because when Catra is given the opportunity to go full-tilt into her darkest urges, she grasps at it with both hands, despite several characters attempting to pull her back from the edge. And once Catra commits, it is like dominoes: thing spiral at speed. There is no going back as the show enters new, uncharted territory. Not only in Catra’s choices to move further away from Adora’s reach, and her friendship with Adora, but also for how we — and in turn, the characters — understand Etheria, and the universe in which it exists. For those of us who have been waiting for the mythology and lore of the show to expand, season 3 is a veritable treasure trove.Screen-Shot-Hordak-a4erd-1024x552The truth about Hordak and where he came from, as well as the origins of the Horde and what Etheria could look like if they win, are all present and accounted for in season 3. And it is, in some ways, a villain origin story that is steeped in well-walked tropes and expectations — but there is also more to it than just that. Hordak and Entrapta’s fledgling friendship pushes them both, and provides Hordak with a side that we — as audiences — have not always been privy to. Certainly, there is more to uncover and dig into — and future seasons will undoubtedly do so — but what we learn here is rich with expanding upon the characters and their pasts. The previous She-Ra, Mara, is included in that. The clues were woven into the fabric of the second season for when Adora needed to find out more about who she is and where she came from, and Adora follows them through to their conclusion — even when it means leaving parts of her former life behind, for good. Glimmer and Bow, through it all, stand strong by her side, and the three of them will need each other more than ever when the dust settles on the third season, and the dawn of the fourth arrives — because certain catastrophic events transpire that will alter the course of their individual trajectories forever.UntitledOh, and the introduction of Huntara and the Crimson Waste is undoubtedly one of the true delights of season 3. I was disappointed not to learn more about Huntara — and eagle-eyed fans will not miss some subtle interactions between her and another character during the trio’s time in a Crimson Waste tavern — but there will be time for that. Especially, and hopefully, if she plays a bigger role moving forward. And I really, really would love for her character to be expanded upon. The hints at Huntara’s past give her a connection to Adora that is difficult for Adora’s other friends in the Princess Alliance to understand or fathom, and it is something that Adora might need moving forward. Huntara is, without a doubt, the best source to tap into for that potential — especially with Catra moving even further outside of Adora’s orbit. There was something of a safety-net hanging securely underneath She-Ra prior to season 3. These six episodes remove that net, and the show plunges deep into something unknown. Stevenson and her team are testing the boundaries of what, and who, She-Ra is, and both the character and the show are all the better for it. It’s not entirely clear where they might take She-Ra beyond this point, but that is certainly part of what makes it so exciting.