Show Review: Snowpiercer (2020)

aboard Snowpiercer, 1001 cars long …

The dystopian genre is where most of my interest lies (that, and anything with good lgbt+ rep), so allow me to recommend to you my newest gem: Snowpiercer. The series is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige and the 2013 Korean-Czech film. I really, really liked the film, too. If anyone hasn’t seen it, make sure you do! Chris Evans is great, and Bong Joon-ho is a wonderful director. (He also directed Okja, which will turn you vegetarian so fast your head will spin, whilst you cry the entire time.) The series is definitely different from the film and stands on its own, although there are some scenes that echo each other. Where the main aim of the film is to get to the engine, where the power rests, the show delves into the politics, relationships and machinations of the characters.

The premise is basically: the world went crazy with fighting and global warming, someone tried to cool down the global and ended up causing a mass ice age that’s killed everyone and everything. The only survivors are the people and the few plants and animals they managed to bring aboard. The leads in the show are played by Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs, as Andre Layton and Melanie Cavill. Andre lives in the tail of the train, Melanie runs the engine. The train is divided by class, with the billionaires in the front of the train, then second class, third class, and then the tail, which is filled with a few hundred people who leapt onto the train just before the world froze over. Everyone at the back of the train is abused by the rich, hated and forgotten about.

At the start, there’s been a murder in the front of the train, so Melanie brings Andre out of the tail to solve the mystery, as he’s the only homicide detective aboard. Andre takes care of young Miles, an orphan aboard the tail, who he raises with Josie. Andre seizes upon the opportunity to try and help his people in the tail. He’s paired with ‘Brakeman’ (like a cop) Till, who’s from Third and is dating Jinju, a woman in Second. Till grows slowly sympathetic to Andre’s situation and the pair become friends while solving the murder. Class politics are a huge plot point, as those in First don’t like to be investigated by a man from the tail and believe themselves above the law.

My favourite characters are definitely Andre and Till, but I’m fascinated by Melanie and everything she’s not saying. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding her and she’s a much different character than the movie parallel, who was played by Tilda Swinton. Where Minister Mason (Swinton) relished pain and brutal order, Melanie is more pragmatic, although I can’t say that I like her. A lot of what she does is unforgivable. Jennifer Connelly does an amazing job in her role, though. Josie, Zarah and Knox are also really good characters. The Folger family, who seem to have most of the power in First, are horrifying. Just you wait. Y I K E S.

This is definitely a tough and frustrating show to watch, but in a good way, if that makes sense? Very diverse, great class commentary and a central l/l pairing! Can’t wait to see how season one ends. And it’s been renewed for a second season, so there’s more to come!

Show Review: The Umbrella Academy (2019)

If you want a show with an amazing soundtrack, fantastic costumes, an intricate storyline, a diverse cast, lgbt+ rep, and superheroes, look no further than The Umbrella Academy. I finally picked it up now that season two is out and watched all of season one yesterday. I’m actually glad I waited because now I have a whole other season to dive into!

The show is based on Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s comic book and follows seven siblings with special powers. The story begins when a bunch of seemingly random women around the world give birth all at the same time – only they weren’t pregnant the day before. A billionaire goes out of his way to adopt the children and manages to collect seven. (I say collect because there’s absolutely nothing paternal or fatherly about him, at least from what I’ve seen, and he uses all of them for his own ends.) The children are trained to be superheroes, at the cost of their childhoods, and it badly impacts them.

Years later, the siblings come home when their father dies, only everything’s changed and no one gets along. One of the siblings vanished into time (Five); one of the siblings died (Ben); one was experimented upon (Luther); one was ostracised (Vanya); one is on drugs (Klaus); one is fighting for custody of her child after her marriage crumbled (Allison); and one has a lot of anger management problems (Diego). (Actually, most of them have anger management problems.) They are also reunited with Pogo, the chic, talking ape, and their Mom, who’s a robot.

In the midst of saying goodbye to their father, the sibling that went missing in time falls out of the sky, the same age he was when he vanished. And there are assassins following him. Oh, and the world is going to end in eight days. Should have led with that.

My favourite characters were Klaus, who can talk to the dead and uses drugs to avoid talking to the dead, and Vanya, a violinist who was told by their father that she would never be special, and whose siblings belittled her as a result. The two are so endlessly supportive of their siblings and have so many layers and I just felt for them at every turn. I adored Ben, Five and Diego, but I did struggle with Allison and Luther. Allison did win me over by the end, but Luther really lost the plot. Every choice he made frustrated me and I feel like everyone should have questioned him a lot more than they did.

The music was sooooo good in this show. You get Sinnerman, Istanbul (Not Constantinople), Exit Music (For a Film), Dancing in the Moonlight, and so many others. It’s seriously so good! I loved the costumes, too. ALTHOUGH WHY THIS IS SET IN 2019 AND THERE ARE NO MOBILE PHONES WAS A HUGE EYE TWITCH FOR ME. Like, if it had been explained, okay. But half the time the characters were using rotary phones and landlines, and I’m like, we are still in 2019, yes? I looked it up and it’s definitely intentional, so that’s cool, but it was a bit confusing at first. The vibe reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events, actually.

This is a show for anyone who loves family dramas or superheroes, but wants more diversity and character development than is often shown in movies. Definitely recommend!

Two Short Story Mini Reviews

Everything’s Fine by Matthew Pridham

Eric swallowed his tears and looked down at their clenched hands. “We’re fine,” he said, “everything’s fine.”

Ooof, this was a whooper. I was not expecting … any of what I just read. But I think that made the read all the more hard-hitting. So I recommend just diving straight in. But beware of lots of gore. Read it here.

All Votes Will Be Counted (We Promise) by Paul Crenshaw

He looked at the sky and wondered if the drones were coming. If the satellites would fall, or if, possibly, his vote would be read and counted.

This short is part of Apex Magazine‘s 119 issue and oh my word. To say that this one sent chills up and down my spine would be an understatement. Read it for yourself here.

Show Review: Titans (2018)

I don’t know why I put off watching Titans, but I’m so glad I finally started it! I think I was overloaded with Marvel, so DC got kind of pushed aside as a result. This one makes me want to dive straight back in, though! The show picks up after Robin, real name Dick Grayson, has left Batman’s side and gone off on his own. Now working for the police, he’s put Robin behind him and doesn’t talk to Bruce anymore. But when a girl named Rachel Roth crosses his path, he’s dragged back into the superhero world.

Rachel is a teenager with a dark secret – something lives inside of her. She think she’s evil as it takes over her, turns her eyes black and she often loses control. But the darkness also warns her of approaching dangers. She’s been dreaming of Dick and his parents for a while and recognises him when they cross paths at the police station. When someone masquerading as a cop kidnaps her, Dick goes after her. At the same time, a woman, Kory, who can’t remember who she is or where she came from, is also trying to find Rachel. Kory can channel solar fire, I think. It’s impressive to watch but I’m not at the reveal yet, so I’m not 100% sure.

The villains hunting Rachel are soooooooo creepy. They’re like evil Stepford Family. They call each other Mom, Dad, Biff and Sis. And they kill with smiles on their faces whilst thanking each other. It’s seriously chilling. They’re all part of a group hunting Rachel and their indoctrination programme is disturbing as frak.

My favourite part of the series is definitely Dick Grayson, although it’s a tough choice because everyone is so well cast. I’ve never really seen Robin be the focus in anything and he’s amazing in this. There’s a scene in season one where the whole group has super powers except Dick, and it’s him who has to take down all the bad guys single-handedly and it’s seriously awesome. He puts Batman in the dust with that scene. Kory is another highlight. Anna Diop is such a magnetic actress and she’s so captivating in every scene. I also adore Conor Leslie. She’s an amazing Wonder Girl. (I also didn’t know Wonder Girl was a thing?)

The family vibes of the central group are lovely, too, and Dick acting like Rachel’s big brother is adorable. I’m curious to see where this show goes and how the characters develop. I’m not even on season two yet, but I’m stoked that it’s been renewed for a third season.  ❤︎

Seriously, watch this one.

Film Review: The Old Guard (2020)

Give me diverse superheroes, she begged; give me gay superheroes, she pleaded. AND THE OLD GUARD DELIVERED ‘EM IN SPADES. AW, YUUUUUUUUUS. Firstly, what a cast: Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, Harry Melling, Van Veronica Ngo and Chiwetel Ejiofor. So you already know it’s going to be amazing. AND IT IS.

I didn’t have much context for The Old Guard before starting it. I only found out it was based on a graphic novel when the credits rolled. So that’s really cool. I’m definitely curious about the novel now. But the film is top notch.

The Old Guard is about four ‘immortals’ who, largely, can’t be killed. But there’s a limit to it. At some point, their time is up. But the years have left them jaded and lonely. Their families have long passed and they can’t get close to anyone outside of their group because it always ends in bitterness and tears and blame. Amongst the group are Andromache of Scythia, nicknamed Andy, centuries old and hardened with cynicism; Sebastian Le Livre, known as Booker, who once served under Napoleon; Yusuf Al-Kaysani, known as Joe, who served in the Crusades; and Niccolò di Genova, known as Nicky, an Italian Crusader from the same time. Joe and Nicky were enemies during the Crusades but are now partners and their romance is the absolute best. Let me just share this with ye:

He’s not my boyfriend. This man is more to me than you can dream. He’s the moon when I’m lost in darkness and warmth when I shiver in cold and his kiss still thrills me, even after a millennia. His heart overflows with the kindness of which this world is not worthy of. I love this man beyond measure and reason. He’s not my boyfriend. He’s all and he’s more.

(Watch the scene here.)

Give me a movie of just Joe and Nicky, please and thank you! Joe and Nicky talking about how they met in the Crusades was great and we need more of them. Perfect, fabulous super boyfriends. A+ ADDITION TO THE GENRE, LADS.

After Andy, Booker, Joe and Nicky are set up, they take up a revenge mission against Copley, the man who betrayed them. Halfway there, however, they share a dream about Nile, a Marine who’s just like them. Not wanting to abandon one of their own, Andy goes for Nile while the other three head on to find Copley and his benefactor.

So much about this movie hit me harder than I expected. It isn’t a happy superhero film by any means. The focus is heavy on the price of immortality and all the downsides. Booker’s backstory was especially sad and I really felt for him. I’m also interested in more on the relationship between Andy and Quynh, so I’m desperate for a second film where that’s explored. Quynh is an immortal from before the events of the movie, so you only get snippets of where she went and why, and I want more! That whole storyline messed me up. Honestly, every character was fascinating and there isn’t a moment of the film where you’re not desperate to find out more.

For anyone else who’s been waiting years for an inclusive superhero film, get on this one asap!

Film Review: Krampus (2015)

I love comedy-horror and for some reason, in the middle of July, I decided to watch Krampus. At eight am, on a Sunday morning. Because sure, why ever not?

Krampus follows the Engel family on Christmas Eve when their relatives come over for holiday dinner. (The rudeness of the guests sparked a long discussion with my partner about how silly it is to subject yourself to a rotten holiday, but I digress.) My heart broke for little Max, who desperately wants to believe in Santa Claus and who writes a letter to the North Pole, wishing for good things for his family. His cousins find the letter and ridicule him at the dinner table. That no one stepped in really, really annoyed me. Only his sister came to his aid.

Terribly upset, Max rips up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window. Cue the dark and stormy night~

The next morning, a blizzard has struck the neighbourhood, the electricity is out and everyone’s trapped inside. When Beth, Max’s older sister, goes out to check on her boyfriend, the horror really sets in. And so begins a gruesome Christmas where the family must work together to survive Krampus and his gingerbread men and deadly demon toys. The gingerbread men were definitely a highlight! Think Shrek but make it Chucky.

The casting of this one was absolutely on point. Adam Scott and Toni Collette lead the film and are as wonderful as always. I feel like Adam Scott should do more horror-comedy. (He was great in Little Evil, too!) Emjay Anthony did a brilliant job as young Max, and Allison Tolman and David Koechner made a great duo even if the characters could be frustrating.

If you love comedy-horror, definitely check this one out! Although it’s probably better not to watch it on Christmas 😉

Film Review: What If (2013)

I’m very picky when it comes to romantic comedies. I often feel like, if the main characters had a very simple conversation (or simply broke up), their lives would be much easier. But there are a few with wonderfully charming storylines and incredibly likeable characters. What If (aka The F Word) is one of them.

Set (and filmed on location) in Toronto, What If follows Wallace after his girlfriend cheats on him and he breaks up with her and drops out of med school. One night at a party, he meets Chantry and they have great chats and end up walking each other home. As they’re parting, Chantry tells him that she’s got a boyfriend. Disappointed, Wallace decides not to hang out with her again. A few nights later, however, they meet at a showing for The Princess Bride and decide to become friends properly. Chantry’s also cousins with Wallace’s best friend Allan, who’s embarking in a new, wild relationship with carefree Nicole. They’re a seriously charming secondary couple and are one of the highlights of a very funny movie! There’s a lot of improvising of lines so the jokes come naturally and don’t feel like they’re just there for cheap laughs.

Problems arise when Chantry introduces Wallace to her boyfriend Ben, who immediately assumes Wallace is trying to sleep with her leading to a wild night that puts Ben in hospital. (No, there’s no fist fight; yes, it’s hilarious, but I won’t spoil you!) Shortly thereafter, Ben moves to Dublin for work (also filmed on location!), leaving Chantry feeling lonely and needing a distraction from her heartache. She spends more and more time with Wallace, Allan and Nicole, but as Allan and Nicole’s relationship progresses, so do things between Wallace and Chantry as the feelings on both sides become complicated by a deep friendship neither wants to lose.

I really adore this movie. Daniel Radcliffe is at his comedy best, but Adam Driver is a true gem! Zoe Kazan and Mackenzie Davis are so great as well. Honestly, the central four are just perfectly cast. The one-liners are brilliant and the comedy isn’t tired. It’s a very, very refreshing romantic comedy and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Slam Poetry Mini Review: Something Else In My Veins (2020)

if you haven’t fallen in love with an addict
don’t talk to me about love
your husband’s friends may be a handful, it’s true
but I sometimes have to wonder if my man will make it home in a single piece, or maybe in two

This is a very raw, gritty book of poetry that deals with addictions and love. I definitely recommend giving it a go. ‘Don’t Talk to Me About Love’ and ‘Superman’ were my favourites.

Goodreads

Show Review: Poldark (2015)

I’ve liked Poldark since it first aired and today started a rewatch. For anyone who hasn’t jumped on the Poldark bandwagon, may I kindly suggest you give it a go? It’s worth it! Pretty dresses and suits, lovely English scenery, and a continuous, ongoing social commentary.

The series (based upon a book series published between 1945-2002!) follows Ross Poldark, an officer in the British Army who returns home after three years in the Americas. Unfortunately, the woman he’d left behind, Elizabeth, is now about to marry his cousin Francis. Francis is instantly jealous of the history between Ross and Elizabeth, but Elizabeth insists she won’t change her mind. Heartbroken, Ross returns to his childhood home only to find that it’s in tatters, there’s no money left, the mine isn’t producing copper, and his father has passed while he was at war.

When he stumbles upon a young woman trying to defend her dog from a group of men who stole him for a dog fight, Ross saves Garrick, the dog, buys her dinner and learns that her name is Demelza and she’s being badly abused by her father and brothers. He offers her a job as his kitchenmaid and takes her and Garrick home. Ross and Demelza slowly bond, aided by his cousin Verity, who is constantly at Ross’ side to support him. (Verity is seriously such a gem!) At the Poldark house is also Judd and Prudie, two workers who used to work for Ross’ father and now work for him. They’re always drunk and rude, but they add great comic relief and warm up to Demelza over time. They are also loyal to Ross, despite their bickering.

The main complication and source of drama is the lack of money for Ross and those around him. He’s unlike the other lords who look down upon the poor and instead situates himself amongst his tenants, hiring on friends and strangers even when he has no money to give, simply because it’s the kind thing to do. It wins him allies amongst those who work for him and unlike the other mine workers and mine owners, Ross and his workers have a deep sense of loyalty to each other. The so-called elites, who want Ross to act just like them, hate him for not looking down on those they believe are worth less. (Seriously, the best scenes are Ross screaming his head off about inequality and how messed up the whole system is.)

A lot of the characters change throughout the series, but Demelza, Dr Enys, Verity and Morwenna are probably my standout favourites. Ross is an amazing character, but he can sometimes be immensely frustrating (especially where it concerns Elizabeth and Demelza). Elizabeth is a very well done character, as is Francis, though I found them both immensely frustrating from time to time. There’s also Dr Enys, Ross’ dear friend, who is lovely and doesn’t believe anyone should be a doctor for the money, but to help, something the other lords are quick to scoff at. The worst character George Warleggan, who is one of the mine owners, loves belittling others and waving his money around, and makes it his mission in life to ruin Ross.

This is definitely a series for anyone who loves costume dramas, but it’s also a good starter for newbies to the genre. The social commentary is great, the action scenes are gripping and intense, and the character development is on point. And, needless to say, the romance is perfection!