Apart from Daredevil and perhaps The Punisher, the quality of Marvel TV-Netflix series has been mixed. The first season of Jessica Jones only succeeded because of its engaging villain, Killgrave (played by David Tennent) while season 2 was decidedly inferior.
Lots of quality behind and in front of the camera, as far as this 8-part adaptation of Sharp Objects was concerned.
Nic Pizzolatto’s anthology crime drama True Detective returns with Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali in the lead role.
It has been 11 years after director Steven Soderbergh wrapped up his trilogy of heist films that began with Ocean’s 11 (2001) and ended with Ocean’s 13 (2007).
The best Netflix series hook you in sometimes on premise alone. And that was certainly the case with Mindhunter.
The first two seasons of the Netflix Crime drama Narcos centred around the infamous Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his powerful Medellin cartel, told through the perspective of US DEA agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook).
Sherlock: The stage is set, the curtain rises, we are ready to begin.
Mary Watson: Begin what?
Sherlock: Sometimes to solve a case, one must first solve another.
John Watson: Oh, you have a case, then, a new one?
Sherlock: An old one, very old. I shall have to go deep.
John Watson: Deep? Into what?
Fan favourite series Sherlock returns for a 4th season with a 90 minute holiday special, that as always showcases the clever, witty & self-referential writing of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and the screen chemistry of Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (as Dr. John Watson).
This episode was all about the secret origins of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and an emotional one at that. Ehramantraut was such a popular character on Breaking Bad, that it is so intriguing to finally get to see a bit of his backstory. Considering that we are still in prequel mode for Better Call Saul, this episode not only plants the seeds for the relationship between our titular character and Ehrmantraut, it offers us a glimpse into the latter’s soul that was previously unfathomable.
At the very end, when Ehrmantraut breaks down in front of his daughter-in-law over the fate of his son, it’s impossible not to feel the pain in his eyes and the helpless sense of regret. Quite possibly, the best in the series thus far.
80s comic book creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller demonstrated that a dark and gritty take on superheroes was a highly viable artistic path. That this approach was also lucrative was proven by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight movie trilogy and to a lesser extent, The Man of Steel. And as much as Arrow has benefitted from this perspective as well, it is only now with Netflix’s adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil will we be seeing the first proper dark and gritty superhero TV series. All episodes drop on 10th April, so check out the 2nd trailer in the meantime.
Truth be told, this episode – “Alpine Shepherd Boy” – was a letdown after the highs of the previous episode. Neatly divided into three parts, the opening act finds Jimmy MacGill realising that getting folks calling him might necessarily mean a good thing as his client prospects tend to be disappointing. However, with the second act – of Chuck getting arrested by police and winding up in the hospital – Jimmy gets the hare-brained scheme to mark out a niche in ‘elder law’ and extends his marketing to the old folks home.
And the show would have ended nicely enough there but that final act with Mike Ehrmantraut seemed awkwardly tacked on. That said, the situation Mike finds himself is tailor-made for Jimmy to come in and save the day.
By now, it’s plainly apparent that Better Call Saul as a series is going to be a proper examination of James M. McGill aka Saul Goodman. Vince Gilligan and company are in no hurry to rush through these opening episodes and instead letting the story of McGill play out naturally. It’s fascinating to see how McGill goes from struggling public defender and the perpetual loser to an opportunist seeing the possibilities in every situation. Sure, he is still a little awkward and a bit of a buffoon but this episode – “Hero” lays out the genesis of Saul Goodman for all to see. The straight and narrow seems to be a path rightly forsaken in exchange for success. For the audience, it is intriguing to witness McGill’s metamorphosis and to attempt to second guess each one of McGill’s moves as he manoeuvres himself into positions of favour.
Definitely in no hurry to go from this prequel sequence of events into the post-Breaking Bad continuity – hoping the series will stay with this timeline for awhile.
Like Thea, viewers of Arrow might be getting a little exasperated at the little twists and turns the CW series needs to take, in order to tell its stories. The last few episodes have been tough on Oliver’s little sister as she has had to deal with an almighty info dump and this latest episode was probably the worst, when she discovered that she was responsible for Sara Lance’s murder. The episode was a bit of a stopgap, serving as an incredulous training lesson meted out by Malcolm Merlyn (why do the Queen siblings continue to trust him when he has proven time and again to be untrustworthy?) but at least brought back Wilson Slade/Deathstroke for more unnecessary violent fun.
In the flashback narrative, Oliver finds himself back in Starling five years ago with Maseo (who is one of the brighter cast additions) which leads to Oliver acquiring his fathers guilty list notebook (remember?). Naturally, the show could not resist throwing in familiar faces into this mix – 2010’s version Tommy, Laurel, John, Felicity, Thea and a drunk Det. Lance all featured in mostly character-revealing moments with the introduction of Lt. Matthew Shrieve (Marc Singer!) at the conclusion spicing things up once again.
But in the present day, things need to move forward with the Ra’s Al Ghul plot line and soon. C’mon!
Better Call Saul is almost Breaking Bad in reverse. Basically, for fans of the latter, we already know ‘Saul Goodman’ as the unscrupulous, immoral shyster lawyer. This prequel/sequel of sorts is telling us the story of how bumbling, inept, down on his luck Jim McGill become Saul Goodman. The best part? There is no rush to get there! The show takes its time to tell Jim’s story first before rushing into Saul. So far, that has meant first class television for the three episodes we have had so far.
Any familiar faces, you ask? Well at the moment we have Jonathan Banks reprising his Breaking Bad role as Mike Ehrmantraut – who we find as a crusty parking attendant.Ehrmantraut is actually instrumental in helping McGill crack the case and save his own bacon. So suddenly our awkward attorney has his very first significant ‘win’ and how it moves from here is anyone’s guess but the show has all the makings of a humongous hit.
Remember that feeling you had when you watching one of the best TV series around? I am talking about Breaking Bad of course. Well, it’s hard not to get a sense of deja vu when watching Better Call Saul, a spin-off/prequel/sequel to that popular series. Well, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is still in the driving seat (together with Peter Gould) and it already looks like this series will be as memorable as Breaking Bad was. Excellent news!
Directed by Michaël R. Roskam. Written by Dennis Lehane.
Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini.
The main strengths of this crime drama are two-fold. The performances are solid and the plot is well-constructed. Although, these plus points are almost undone by the snail-like pacing.
Prima facie, the film appears to be about former bartender Marv (the late Gandolfini is his last role in a feature) and his attempts to steal from his Chechen mafia overlords via the ‘drops’ that take place at the bar.
Directed by Scott Frank
Starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Boyd Holbrook, Sebastian Roche
Actor Liam Neeson’s third act has been defined by his role in Taken – the invincible, grizzled man of action on a mission – which he duly reprised in other action movies like Unknown, The Grey and Non Stop to great effect. In this respect, this crime drama is no different.
If you have never watched Paul Verhoeven’s classic RoboCop (1987), then you might find this reboot to be entertaining fare. Nothing special but passable movie entertainment nonetheless. Whilst the original film came across as a visceral satire of the role that powerful corporations play in the USA and worldwide, Brazilian director Jose Padilha’s re-imagination renders any such social-political commentary inert and most of the time, his RoboCop comes across as safe, family-friendly entertainment.
TRUE DETECTIVE (Starring Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey & Michelle Monahan)
From the epic surrealistic opening credits, it’s clear that HBO’s new series True Detective is going to be something different. However, the moment one sees the first murder victim, one’s mind is immediately cast to the first season of Hannibal! In addition, for some bizarre reason, McConaughey’s Rust reminds me of an Americanized Sherlock Holmes (i.e. Benedict Cumberbatch).