Hero For Hire?: A Review of Netflix’s “Luke Cage”

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http://bit.ly/2c401lV

It’s been three years since Netflix and Marvel initially connected, striking a deal that netted Netflix four separate full-run series as well as one crossover miniseries, all featuring select heroes from the storied history of Marvel Comics.

It wasn’t until April 2015 that the first series, Daredevil, finally saw its debut. Daredevil was an incredible open to the Netflix-side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it set the bar extremely high for what came next. Unfortunately, it was followed by the decidedly faltering Jessica Jones, as well as a second season of Daredevil that had its fair share of good moments, but struggled to juggle too many storylines, overall resulting in a markedly muddled and disappointing season.

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I Love The 80s: A Review of “Stranger Things”

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http://bit.ly/2bAxEaO

You’ve likely already noticed, but the 2010s have somewhat become a 2.0 update of the 1980s — at least in terms of our media. In video games, retro-style 8-and-16-bit graphics are commonplace. In film and television, our most cherished childhood properties are being rebooted seemingly every other week. Even many of today’s biggest pop stars have been modernizing the sounds of some of the biggest hits of the 80s in order to form their latest singles (looking at you Carly Rae Jepsen).

In Netflix’s latest phenomenon, Stranger Things, created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer (credited as “The Duffer Brothers”), it’s The Duffer Brothers’ obvious obsession and adoration with 80s media that is the backbone to what is the best television I’ve watched all year.

Stranger Things is more or less an amalgamation of all the classic horror/sci-fi/family films of the early 80s. There’s a competent mix of genre tropes and direct allusions to the works of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and other visionaries of the time that the Duffer Brothers clearly grew up admiring. There’re components of films like Alien, E.T., Stand By Me, and countless others. And although there’s fairly little that’s truly unique here, the eight episodes jaunt along at a quick pace, making for an entirely enjoyable series that’s perfect for binge-watching over the course of a couple days (or less than 24 hours, which I did).

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At Least The Comic Is Good: Regarding AMC’s “The Walking Dead” Again

[SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON SIX BELOW]

Can someone please tell me why I’m still watching this show week to week?

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http://bit.ly/1ICL2nO

The Walking Dead’s midseason finale aired this past Sunday, and boy was it terrible. This show has been nothing but wholly disappointing the last six weeks. At this point, I think I’m only watching still in order to see just how bad it can get.

I’m just going to ramble and rant (especially rant) about some major things that have happened in the show since I last wrote about the subject, which was after episode five of season six aired.

Let’s start by talking a bit about episode six of this season, which was that inconsequential and terrible Daryl/Sasha/Abraham episode. Possibly one of the worst scenes this show has ever let grace my television screen was in this episode. I’m referring to the scene in which Abraham wrestles a zombie that is impaled through the end of a fence in order to get the RPG that’s attached to it. Nothing about this scene made any sense. Like, how the zombie got in that position in the first place? Or, why Abraham decided to wrestle with it instead of just simply killing it? Yes, I understand that the show has been increasingly trying to show that Abraham has PTSD that comes from his time in the war and since the zombie was in a military uniform, it affected him. Still, this scene was awful. He got the RPG, though! So that means there’s going to be some terrible CGI explosion coming in the future!

Daryl’s side of the story was no better, as it basically made no sense and had no consequences (except, oh no, Daryl lost his crossbow again!). It featured three new characters who seem to be of little importance, though it has been revealed through The Walking Dead’s Twitter that one of these people shares the identity to that of an actual important character in the comics, but of course that was never explained within the episode.

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Groovy, Indeed: A Review of “Ash Vs. Evil Dead”

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http://imdb.to/1Hj8GWX

Sam Raimi’s cult classic film series Evil Dead has made its way to television with the Starz series Ash Vs. Evil Dead. B-movie star and Evil Dead mainstay Bruce Campbell is back as Ashley J. Williams, the hero of the Evil Dead series, and even Sam and Ivan Raimi came back to write and direct the pilot episode. As a long-time big fan of the Evil Dead series, I’m glad to say that the show retains everything that has made people fall in love with those movies for more than thirty years. Only three episodes have aired so far, but it is safe to say that I really love this show and it has met and even surpassed my expectations. I even feel as though the show is getting better as it continues, making me extremely excited for what might come next.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the film series (you should be ashamed of yourself), the films focus on Ash Williams. Ash and a group of friends once stayed in a remote cabin in the woods, where Ash came across an old book called the Necronomicon. Within this flesh-bound, inked-in-blood book is an old language that, when spoken aloud, brings forth demons from Hell. The original film was played as more of a straight horror flick, and Ash was more serious. The sequels became increasingly more ridiculous and slapstick in nature, making Ash into a bumbling idiot but also creating one of the best demon-killing machines in all of film. It’s in the second film that Ash loses his hand and iconically replaces his stump of a hand with a chainsaw. Yes, it is ridiculous and stupid, but in all the right ways.

So, chronologically, Ash Vs. Evil Dead takes place after the events of Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn. Due to legal issues, the show is not continuing from the final film in the series, Army of Darkness. So, Ash is about 30 years older than he was when we last saw him, and yet he’s still the same ol’ Ash. Ash is still one-handed, constantly spouting one-liners, all about the ladies and genuinely pretty sexist, and good at nothing but killing the undead. Ash always was and still is one of the best characters in all of horror. Bruce Campbell gracefully slips back into the role that made him famous 30 years ago, and it’s is an absolute delight to see this character again, chainsaw and all. Continue reading

Regarding AMC’s “The Walking Dead”

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http://bit.ly/1PnCvMX

I’ve been a fan of horror — and specifically zombie stories — since I was a young child. I grew up on George A. Romero’s revelatory “Dead” trilogy through my older brother. 28 Days Later is one of my earliest memories of going to the movie theater. Capcom’s Resident Evil series is partly responsible for my love of video games. As a nine-year-old, my first foray into the comic industry wasn’t with Spider-Man or Superman, but with the first two volumes of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.

Robert Kirkman’s initial pitch for The Walking Dead was that it would focus entirely on the life of one man — Rick Grimes — as he tries to survive in a world overrun by the undead. Almost 150 issues and eleven years since our first exposure to Rick Grimes and Co., The Walking Dead is still going strong, still offering up some of the most interesting content the series has had since its conception. The comic has had its fair share of bad and/or boring story arcs, but for the most part it has stayed consistently interesting since the first issue, and I always recommend it to anyone interested in graphic novels.

When it was announced that AMC had actually ordered a full season of a television adaptation of The Walking Dead back in 2010, I was ecstatic. Robert Kirkman was on-board with it, and Frank Darabont — responsible for adapting Stephen King novels The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist into fantastic movies — was also announced as the main showrunner, so I felt that the project was in good hands. The show has been going strong for five years now, and is breaking records left and right with the amount of viewers it gets, with it being the highest-rated cable television series of all time. Thing is, I don’t think it deserves the acclaim and viewership that it gets.

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What Are You Watching?: “I Am Cait”

I Am Cait (2015, E!)

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http://bit.ly/1Q7x2K4

By breaking magazine sales, gaining more followers on social media than anyone in 24 hours, and snatching trophies, Caitlyn Jenner has dominated the year’s news and commanded attention for an issue that was overlooked for many years, all while coming to understand who she is today.

Whether you believe it’s all a publicity stunt or an expression of the inner self, it cannot be denied that Caitlyn Jenner has made huge strides for the LGBTQIA community in the past few months. And it was all chronicled on her series, I Am Cait. I am all for reality TV, especially if it gives me, and others, a better understanding of an unknown and struggling community.

I Am Cait follows Caitlyn — former star Olympian Bruce — Jenner into her newfound world. The series opens with the introduction of Caitlyn to her family. This has been noted as a huge struggle for many families. When someone transitions, the family may feel the need to mourn the loss of the family member they knew and begin to understand this new person in their life. Caitlyn argues that she’s still the same person, but the family believes that it’s almost impossible to not mourn the familiarity that they have known in the former body of their loved one.

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What Are You Watching?: “Scream Queens”

Scream Queens (2015, Fox)

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http://bit.ly/1GYfWGe

With the end of the Glee era for Ryan Murphy and Fox last year, a new and valuable time slot was left open. Murphy, who has gained monstrous success as the creator of both Glee and American Horror Story, has now created a hybrid between his two mega-hits in this latest endeavor: Scream Queens.

The series follows a sequence of murders that surround the sorority house Kappa Kappa Tau at Wallace Community. This sorority has an established past as the elite Greek house on the campus, accepting only the most impressive and beautiful women into their sisterhood. In 1995, a party was thrown at the house to celebrate the school year. During the festivities, a sister disappeared upstairs and was found in the bathtub with a baby – which she thought “was just the freshman fifteen! I thought I was having a bread baby!” Once the other sisters heard that TLC’s hit “Waterfall” was playing in another room, they excused themselves to dance. Following the song, they returned to find the sister, still with the baby, dead in the tub – still unsure of who the father was.

The show then cuts to 2015, leaving no answer to the question of what became of the baby. One thing is clear — the new Kappa house is just as brutal and dumb as the house of the 90s.

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What Are You Watching?: “Grace and Frankie”

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http://bit.ly/1PkLTkb

Grace and Frankie (2015, Netflix)

Ever wonder what would happen when your husband and his best friend came out as gay lovers? Ever wonder what it would be like when you’re seventy? Yeah…me neither. Yet, somehow this exact story unfolds within the first season of Grace and Frankie and manages to be captivating.

After my heavy summer filled with Hannibal and Scream, I needed some laughs. Netflix sent me a recommendation for their new series starring Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie. Grace is more of a Martha Stewart/socialite who focuses on extravagant things, whereas Frankie is more of a hippie who believes in the healing power of yoga and recreational drugs.

The new series follows these women in their later years as they become unlikely friends and roommates after discovering that their husbands, who are partners at a law firm, are partners in a whole different sense of the word.

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What Are You Watching?: “Hannibal”

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http://bit.ly/1Gx4VLX

Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC)

Over the summer, I made it my mission to start watching Hannibal. Having heard rave reviews from multiple people, I went in with high expectations, all of which were met and surpassed.

Hannibal is the story of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a gifted criminologist who works for the FBI as a profiler. Will has a power that allows him to enter a crime scene and mentally envision how the crime was committed based on blood splatter, body manipulations, and such. Will’s gift takes a mental toll on him — as it would anyone who was surround by death — so Will asks for assistance solving a complicated case of a serial killer. Enter Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

The name “Hannibal Lecter” is familiar because it is the name of the psychotic protagonist from the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs. In the film, Dr. Lecter was institutionalized for violent acts of murder and cannibalism. With this echoed in the NBC series, I wondered how long it would be until the character in the series mirrored that of the one in the film… turns out, not long at all.

The show is brilliant for numerous reasons, one in particular is that it wrestles with the concept of insanity. The series establishes Hannibal as a brilliant doctor who is by far one of the most looked up to in his field. He’s also a good person who is working with the FBI on cases to help catch criminals. But Hannibal is also cast as a psychopath who feeds on human organs. It makes the viewer question whether Hannibal is insane or not.

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What Are You Watching?: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003, The WB/UPN)

With this semester quickly coming to an end, I’ve taken on the mundane task of planning my next semester of classes. With options that seem far less than interesting, I get discouraged (especially considering a university in Europe is now teaching a Britney Spears class on how she was overly sexualized by her management and ultimately became a feminist icon). I began looking for more fun alternative classes at other schools and stumbled upon “Buffyology,” which is the study of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how it explored issues in sexuality, gender, religion, family dynamics, and more.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a staple of my favorite television series a few years ago when it was first added to Netflix. Having heard little to nothing about the show, I gave the first episode a shot. Once I had gotten over the (admittedly cheesy) vampire face makeup, which resembled that of a villain on the Power Rangers TV show, I fell in love. Buffy was a literal kickass teenage girl who dealt with divorce, moving to a new school at a young age, young love drama, and all that comes with hunting vampires at night.

The show transgressed vampires and played with lure and mythology long before the Winchester brothers did so on the CW’s hit show, Supernatural. Buffy also took on social elements like interracial dating, homosexuality, and divorce, as well as death and the psychological tolls it can take on a character. These elements are what add to the “Buffy formula” that makes it truly something more magical, enchanting, and profound than it may appear to be.

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