An alternate history drama where the Russians landed on the moon first, kicking off a prolonged, multi-generational space race of one-upmanship sustained by the wounded pride of the United States.
It’s bloody great.
Moreover, it’s a fascinating exploration of human motivations to greatness and high ambition as well as being a very grounded look at the hardships of space travel and what might have been but only for a few key moments of our own history going slightly one way or another.
Less the Cthulhu mythos elements of Lovecraft’s stories, but rather taking small, weird tales of scifi, cosmic horror, occult organisations, time/space travel and wrapping them all in post-Korean wartime black United States.
So of course, all the supernatural darkness and horror that comes with the magical side of things is frequently less terrifying, threatening and horrible than the everyday racism the protagonists face in their ordinary lives.
It’s brilliantly done. Each episode takes this lens and focuses it through the tone and genre of classic pulp novels — one time a haunted house, one time an artefact heist adventure, one time a body-swapping life-in-their-shoes story, one time a time-travelling historical lesson, one time a mythological fable crossed with a wartime romance.
The cast and their performances are fantastic, the VFX are cinematic quality (not to mention impressively visceral and disgusting) while the choices to use anachronistic modern elements of black culture only serve to further elevate and enhance the experience.
There’s just so, so much packed into only ten episodes that it puts many other shows to shame with both its ambition and execution.
A decent entry into the “creepy isolated cult” sub-genre, told with plenty of breathing room over six episodes.
Not as fantastical as I was hoping it would turn out, but nonetheless a fairly effective thriller told in two parts: three days (episodes) each of someone arriving on the island of Osea and things getting progressively worse for them, they things tend to do when you ignore all signs telling you to leave immediately.
Of course, the causeway connecting the island to the mainland floods over with the tide so the windows of escape are always narrow, but it’s often hard to sympathise with someone who sees creepy, bloody paintings on the exteriors of buildings and gets extremely chilly vibes from the locals and doesn’t just nope right the hell out of there immediately. There were too many points, especially in the second half where I was yelling “Fuck this place! LEAVE DAMMIT!!” at the television and yet the characters always managed to miss their chances to escape again and again.
Unfortunately, it does a bit more telling rather than showing us why this place holds such mythic portent. We hear it a lot but it’s never really explained or justified why it’s special or how it’s special.
In the end it comes down to the two leads of each of the sections (titled “Summer” and “Winter” ), and their emotional through-lines are what keeps it from falling off the rails thanks to Jude Law, Naomie Harris and the excellent supporting cast. Much is shot in a disorienting, uncomfortably close style that makes the character journeys harrowing and anxious to follow.
Supposedly there was an interim “Autumn” section which was broadcast as a 12-hour single-take live event between the two parts during the Osea festival that we only saw the lead up to and the fallout from in the show itself. It does feel as though something is missing, though if I hadn’t looked it up you’d never know it was missing.
For me it didn’t quite tip over into being really excellent, since something like Midsommar or the original Wicker Man handled similar material in a much more unsettling way.
Still, it’s a pretty decent little thriller, I was just expecting some elevation or reinvention of the genre when all it was offering was a good execution on worn ideas with nothing dramatic to reveal at the end.
Stephen King really has a way with small towns and supernatural murder.
Based on the book of the same name (which I haven’t read), it tracks the investigation into what at first seems like a very clear cut murder that quickly starts to escalate and destroy the community.
Tone and cinematography are appropriately unnerving, casting is excellent. Pacing is slow, but it works in its favour, taking its time to chew on each twist and let things unfold.
It’s all very Stephen King, and definitely one of his stronger ones, though the horror aspects fade out a little in the second half. Still, the characters are compelling and the mystery is well constructed.
A decent enough sci-fi drama trapped in an identity crisis.
There’s two tales happening in parallel and it takes a long time to become apparent how they’re linked, and only in the final ten minutes or so do the two threads really twine together. Problem is, George Clooney’s story is where we open the story and spend significant time before swapping to Felicity Jones’ imperiled space mission.
Something certainly got messed up in the edit here, and to some extent it seems like a marketing problem. Clooney is the bankable star and a decision was made to put his part of the story at the forefront of scene sequencing and this damages the story by relegating Jones’ arc to a B plot when it’s arguably the more important of the two.
And this is a shame! There some solid drama and well-executed action sequences that are overall held back by the story being told out of a better order.
You could still find plenty to enjoy here, but don’t be surprised if you find your attention flagging because the focus is scrambled.
Solidly medium movie, could have been very good with a few changes.
For a show that’s framed around an American football coach moving to the UK to coach soccer it’s really about everything except that.
There’s an infectious earnestness and shameless good-natured bent it all that you can’t help but get invested in. And damn if the relentless optimism doesn’t just get in there and warm you up.
One of the McElroy brothers (Travis?) said something to the effect of “don’t punch down, don’t punch up, just don’t punch” and nothing embodies that idea so perfectly as Ted Lasso. It’s mature, kind, compassionate and manages to do it with fantastic emotional intelligence while also being anti-cynical and effortlessly hilarious.
I was often suprised, and always pleasantly, to find where it had chosen to place its narrative conflicts and how it chose to resolve them. As such it very quickly works to undermine your expectations of cheap drama for drama’s sake. This show has no interest in playing that way and it’s honestly all the more a ray of sunshine because of it, but what’s more is because it’s not burning up time trying to force conflict in everywhere it becomes entirely about mediation and accountability, and it gives the characters more time to just be.
After the absolute bastard that was 2020 it’s refreshing to watch something that actually just makes you feel good and Ted Lasso knocks it out of the park. Everyone needs a Ted in their corner.
The good news is this has already been renewed for three seasons. I understand why this topped so many peoples’ lists from last year. Do yourself a favour and get on it.
It’s hard to tell at what point of this film’s absurdly protracted release things started coming apart — clearly there was a distinct vision at one point and all the mess of its production just muddied that so much that what we got was just sort of a flat, disjointed and indecisive jumble of ideas that don’t cohere together at all.
Nothing in its premise stands up to the slightest bit of scrutiny, and the fact that it’s trying to squeeze five superhero origins and a romance and a horror film and a teen drama all into a tight 94min does nothing any favours at all.
100% would have been better served as a limited TV series where any one of those concepts could have had a moment to breath outside of rushed expository dialogue. As it is, each of the characters gets an introduction, a scene where they Don’t Want To Talk About Their Trauma, a manifestation of said trauma and then a moment of overcoming it in the climactic battle. On paper it sounds like everyone gets an arc but really it’s just a fill-in-the-blanks, paint-by-numbers rollout with zero nuance and a staggering lack of clarity or explanation.
I’m familiar with the comic run it’s based on and even still I struggled to keep focus. Some of the visual effects and design are cool but they’re not in service of anything.
Not even bad enough for a fun drunk watch, just skip it like you would all the late-game X-Men movies that aren’t Logan.
It’s hard to pin Legion down, since it’s very proudly one of the least superhero-y comicbook-based TV series of the past decade despite being populated by very comicbooky characters and ideas.
It’s more of a psychedelic mind trip through gorgeous production design, S-tier cinematography and a plot and cast of characters that absolutely delight in and embrace all the weirdest things that the genre has to offer.
The cast is clearly having a ball, and it goes to show yet again how underutilised Dan Stevens is in the broader scheme of things.
Sure, there are action sequences and the like, but more often the central conflicts are resolved by compassion and strange conversations and a few times by psychic dance-battles. Oh, and a hippy cult smokes happiness from the udders of a gigantic pig at one point.
Yeah. It’s weird.
And that’s all to the benefit, because it’s not trying to be a regular sort of X-Men show, it’s a character study of a persona fragmented by trauma, wrapped in a dream-like 1960s aesthetic and often a very Lynchian desire to be willfully obtuse.
It’s unsettling and dark at times, gorgeous and strange and wonderful at others. The pacing overall is fairly off-kilter, but if you’re willing to forgive its self-indulgence you’ll find a tonne of reasons to fall in love with it.
It runs just long enough to tie itself up nicely without overstaying, but I wish more shows were this willing to embrace the absurdity of their own premises.