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The Definitive Guide to All Upcoming Star Wars Movies

You may recently have heard of a little movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the long-awaited franchise revival intended to kickstart a whole new wave of Star Wars movies if it went well. It made a bit of cash over opening weekend (a pretty neat $517 million worldwide at the time of counting, on its way to well over a billion dollars), so that extended universe is now certainly a go. But what, exactly, are all these upcoming movies? Allow me to explain what you have to look forward to in a galaxy far, far away over the next few years:

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Release date: 16 December 2016

Directed by: Gareth Edwards, he of Godzilla (the 2014 one)

What’s it about? The first of the standalone spin-off ‘Story’ movies, Rogue One is set just before A New Hope. It focuses on the event that sparked the original trilogy – the theft of the Death Star plans by a bunch of rebels that allowed the Rebellion to find that really convenient exhaust port for Luke Skywalker to shoot. There ain’t no Jedi in this one, but Darth Vader may pop up to say hi.

Reasons to look forward to it: Star Wars has usually veered towards brightness and optimism as a franchise, preferring to stick with shiny heroes and dastardly villains. That’s always worked out, but Rogue One does promise a potentially refreshing change of tone – a grittier, earthier tone with ordinary people rather than ultra-powerful Jedi resorting to morally questionable tactics to achieve a goal that might not bring about any change. It’s a chance to showcase the Star Wars franchise at a level we’ve never seen before, away from all the mysticism and prophecies to show the little guys and what they have to do to win, free from the necessities of the saga movies.

Reasons to be apprehensive: On the other hand, darkness and grit might be a poor fit for the franchise – dark ‘n’ gritty has often come across as a pretentious, laughable attempt to be ‘adult’ when applied to certain, brighter franchises (hi, Man of Steel!). This, despite the added freedom of being a spin-off, still carries the Star Wars name, so it can’t go too heavy on the grit or it’ll risk losing the spirit of the franchise. Also, Gareth Edwards is a slightly questionable choice – his Godzilla remake was decent enough, but ultimately pretty forgettable, so he has a fair amount to prove here.

Star Wars: Episode VIII

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Release date: 26th May 2017

Directed by: Rian Johnson, he of Looper and a handful of Breaking Bad episodes including the series’ best, Ozymandias

What’s it about? If the ending of The Force Awakens is anything to go by, this movie’s gonna be full of training – the training of fledgling Jedi Rey by Luke Skywalker, who’s finally been tracked down to a small Irish island, and the training of grade A bastard and Han Solo killer Kylo Ren by Supreme Leader Snoke, who may or may not actually be a giant. Every major figure from The Force Awakens, Han Solo excepted (sob) will be back here, with Mark Hamill presumably playing a central role this time around. At a guess, this’ll be loosely similar to The Empire Strikes Back, seeing the Resistance v First Order conflict become more personal while the Resistance are pushed to their limits. It probably won’t be called The First Order Strikes Back, however.

Reasons to be excited: Rian Johnson is a potentially inspired choice. Before JJ Abrams boarded Episode 7, Johnson was actually my main pick for director due to his terrific work on the exciting, creative sci-fi flick Looper. Johnson also has experience with heavy emotional drama, having directed some of Breaking Bad‘s best and most dramatic instalments, so he’s a guy who can nail both parts of a Star Wars movie. In addition, this movie has the chance to really cut loose with a fresh and original story, free of the requirement to gently lower the audience into the new era with a familiar story – now everything’s been re-established, Episode VIII can really deliver a defining, inventive story for this new era of the franchise.

Reasons to be apprehensive: Good old ‘middle chapter’ syndrome. Especially considering that this new trilogy is built as a trilogy from the off, with a cliffhanger in the first movie (with A New Hope, it could almost have been a standalone movie and would have worked fine), there’s a risk here of making a movie that doesn’t really have a beginning nor end, and doesn’t really satisfy as an individual experience. It’s the most likely to get lost in the shuffle of the well-known beginning and end, and to make matters worse, it’s in the shadow of acclaimed middle chapter The Empire Strikes Back. Arguably, this has an even higher mountain to climb than the last movie – it has to continue the saga and leave things open-ended while satisfying on its own, while providing enough originality and freshness to assuage the naysayers. Good luck, Rian Johnson.

Han Solo Story Spin-Off

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Release date: 25th May 2018

Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller, they of The LEGO Movie and the two Jump Street movies

Reasons to be excited: Lord & Miller have a couple of damn safe pairs of hands. They’re responsible for a handful of great movies that combine comedy with a streak of serious drama, work well within the confines of the franchise and have a genuine enthusiasm for the Star Wars series. Therefore, they’re almost certainly a good shout for a spin-off that could be a really great way to shed light on a character who never appeared in the prequels – a way of fleshing out everyone’s favourite galactic smuggler as a kind of final goodbye. With Han Solo floating up to that big Millennium Falcon in the sky, this could be a nice, poignant send-off, lending context to little moments throughout the trilogy and finally letting Han Solo go as a more well-rounded, three-dimensional character.

Reasons to be apprehensive: Do we really need this? On paper, this sounds like a relatively generic space adventure starring a traditional young white male adult hero – something that sticks to a safe, pre-established template. There’s so much potential to explore the unusual, different corners of the universe in these spin-offs, and resorting to yet another prequel starring a main character really does feel like playing it safe and missing an opportunity to tell a really unique story with its own flavour. We already know a hell of a lot about Han Solo, and as such this spin-off movie feels like an indulgence that comes at the expense of potentially more interesting movies.

Star Wars: Episode IX

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Release date: 2019, though we don’t have a precise date yet

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow, he of Jurassic World

What’s it about? The conclusion of the sequel trilogy that began with The Force Awakens, Episode IX will presumably see the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order come to a close. At a guess, Kylo Ren will still be alive and kicking at this point, with his ‘will-he-won’t-he’ redemption arc concluding but Andy Serkis’ maybe-giant Supreme Leader Snoke will probably take on the central villainous role a la Emperor Palpatine from Return of the Jedi. Aside from that… who knows?

Reasons to be excited: Conclusions are always fun. There’s no need to lay groundwork for future movies, and no need to push events towards a major cliffhanger – the conclusion of a trilogy always gets to benefit from the hard work the other movies have done, building up momentum in style. If Kylo Ren is still alive here, there’s a chance to provide a really different take on the Darth Vader redemption arc here – with the seeds laid for a potential redemption already done in TFA, this could be the culmination of three movies of a carefully built up character study (bearing in mind that Vader was an unambiguous bastard right up until the ‘I am your father’ reveal).

Reasons to be apprehensive: Colin Trevorrow seems like a slightly uninspired, safe choice. Especially after the unusual choice of Rian Johnson for Episode VIII, picking the guy who directed the highest grossing movie of the year (thus far, anyway) seems like the franchise is still playing it safe – Jurassic World was decent, but hardly inspired; a film with haphazard pacing and thin characters. Furthermore, there’s the issue that the original trilogy-esque setup with a potentially redeemable, black-suited villain working for a vastly more powerful overseer could lead to a conclusion that apes Return of the Jedi in a way a revived series three movies in shouldn’t really do. At this point, though, it’s all conjecture. Still, at least we know more about Episode IX than this one…

Maybe a Boba Fett Spin-Off

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Release date: Maybe 2020?

Who’s directing? Unknown – Josh Trank was up for this movie, but the Fantastic Four shitshow ruled that out.

What’s it about? It could be about bounty hunter Boba Fett, as he travels the galaxy doing what he does best – hunting bounties. This could be an origin story for Boba, or even a movie set entirely in the seconds before Boba Fett is digested by the Sarlacc, as he contemplates his life choices that have led to him getting accidentally shot and thrown into a cavernous pit with a killer alien inside. It, alternatively, could be about something else.

Reasons to be excited: It could be about Boba Fett, you guys, or even something else!

Reasons to be apprehensive: What if they mess up the character(s) of Boba Fett or even someone else?

Anyway, that’s all the Star Wars movies coming up, including one that might not even exist.

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The Best Films of 2015

A few days back, I posted my top nine TV shows of the year – and, considering I’m in a retrospective mood, it’s time for my favourite movies. I’d been holding off posting this until I saw Star Wars just in case it snuck in – and now I’ve seen it, I’ve got my top 5 (is Star Wars in there? Keep reading to find out! I know, exciting). As before, I’m not exactly a film critic, so this will be a hopelessly mainstream post.  On with the movies!

Note: This list is in no particular order of any kind whatsoever, including quality.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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WHAT A DAY! WHAT A LOVELY DAY! I’ve gushed about Mad Max before on this blog, and it’s remained my uncontested top film of the year ever since May. I’m really chuffed that it’s getting awards attention, as this is pretty much a masterpiece – a terrifically directed piece of lean, mean entertainment that spans one extensive, relentless action sequence. The action is frenetic, thrilling and basically non-stop, cleanly and stably directed by George Miller. The world-building is subtly brilliant, introducing a bizarre post-apocalyptic world and dropping us right into the middle of it while sketching out more and more details of the culture and religion of the society in natural ways throughout the movie. And there’s the fact that this is a surprisingly progressive blockbuster, with a female action hero for the ages in Charlize Theron’s Furiosa and a story that revolves around women breaking free of objectification and imprisonment. There’s a huge amount of thematic depth under the balls-to-the-wall entertainment, with the movie presenting layers and layers of really thought-provoking themes that reward multiple rewatches. It’s an outstanding movie, and quite frankly blows everything else out of the water.

The Martian

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Another blockbuster gaining a bit of awards heat as I type this, The Martian was 2015’s sleeper hit in terms of box office and critical acclaim. I did enjoy Andy Weir’s novel, but it got pretty dry at points and frequently felt like a science textbook at points – the film adaptation sifts out almost all of the minute detail while keeping the thoroughly pro-science spirit of the novel, creating a thoroughly entertaining and very funny movie with its own unique flavour. Matt Damon was a powerhouse of a lead here, nailing Mark Watney’s really laid-back attitude to it all while capturing the more intense emotional moments, providing a really engaging presence for most of the movie. The pace slackens every now and then, but this was a great tribute to sheer ingenuity and refusal to stay alive, comprising several nail-biting scrapes with near-death alongside a genuine sense of uplifting unity provided by the efficient, cooperative scenes on Earth. With a properly tense finale taking cues Gravity and infusing it with a hell of a lot more humour, The Martian is a joyful, plainly enjoyable and inventive little blockbuster.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

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In a year where the two biggest long-running spy franchises, Mission: Impossible and James Bond, in the market went head-to-head, it was Rogue Nation that gave Spectre a hefty smackdown. This series picked up a lot of steam with Ghost Protocol, and Rogue Nation kept up that momentum by building on everything that made the last movie great while adding just enough new stuff to keep it fresh. The action sequences were more bonkers and inventive than ever before, taking in the mandatory insane Tom Cruise stunt alongside a really well-directed sequence in the opera that took great advantage of the surroundings to deliver something clever and thoroughly tense and a section midway through that stacks three separate action sequences on top of each other in style. Rebecca Ferguson proved to be a terrific addition to the cast, bringing complexity and vulnerability to an unpredictable, undoubtedly bad-ass ally of Ethan’s. The plot is kinda nonsensical, but it’s merely window-dressing for the crazy action sequences and broad but solid character work – it doesn’t provide a complex, original or layered story, but Rogue Nation ticks all the boxes a Mission: Impossible movie needs to tick.

Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs is a lucky bastard to be on this list as the honorary prestige movie. It’s not as good as Whiplash or Birdman for instance, two movies I saw this year because of much later UK release dates but couldn’t make it onto this list because they were released originally in 2014. So with that qualifier, it’s worth remembering that Steve Jobs was a really good movie. The hyperactive, dialogue-driven style won’t be for everything, but this was a really gripping and genuinely stressful movie that turned simple arguments into explosive glimpses into Steve Jobs’ private life, with every argument unearthing just a little more about the famous figure as the movie progresses. The three act structure is a nice one, with different aesthetics really distinguishing the three sections of the movie – part of the fun of this is seeing just how every character has transformed in the interim, and the transformations are frequently unpredictable. The script is terrific, with shedload of sharp, witty and quotable lines emerging from the pen (or finger) of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to create a consistently engaging game of verbal tennis (a term I’m fairly sure I didn’t invent) between the characters. And the cast is uniformly great, with Michael Fassbender shining as the neurotic, abrasive Jobs while letting glimmers of humanity shine through from beneath the facade. It seems to have flopped at the box office, but this was a fascinating and very unique character study.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Hey, the wait was worth it, because look who sneaked onto this list! Maybe this is just the weekend hype talking. Perhaps I’ll look back on this list next year and wonder what the hell I was thinking (just like I do now with last year’s!). But a list is nothing but a reflection of the writer’s opinion at the current time, so The Force Awakens is on this list. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but this movie really did impress me. Sure, the plot’s kinda thin and derivative, founded on a handful of contrivances. Sure, it’s similar in structure to A New Hope. But wow, does this movie nail everything else, so much so that the story simply becomes a means to an end – an enabler for all the good stuff rather than the movie’s backbone. The new characters here are uniformly superb, all portrayed really well. They’re all instantly likeable, distinctive creations – Daisy Ridley’s spirited and adventurous Rey, John Boyega’s quippy defected Stormtrooper Finn and Oscar Isaac’s effortlessly charismatic pilot Poe Dameron are all characters that are extremely entertaining to watch, with development (okay, maybe not Poe, but he’s more ancillary anyway) that’s meaningful and pays off superbly. And then there’s Kylo Ren, the guy who appeared to be Darth Vader 2.0 in the trailers – another badass Sith with a mask and creepy modulated voice. The genius of Kylo Ren is that he’s a wannabe – an immature man-child with incomplete training, consistently wavering morality and a proclivity for violent, explosive temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He’s scary not because of what he can do, but because there’s no true guarantee that he won’t flip out and do something horrendous – there’s an unpredictability to this petulant villain that Adam Driver really nails. Most of all, though, this is just plain fun – a propulsive, exciting space adventure that deftly zips from planet to planet with barely a moment for the pace to slacken. Filled with optimism, excitement and hope, this wasn’t perfect, but it was a hell of a lot better than it had any right to be.

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My Favourite TV of 2015

Almost a year ago today, I published my very first post, with my top 5 movies of 2014. Since then, this blog has gone from strength to strength (ha), increasing views by an average of 0.02 per day.

It’s coming to the end of the year, so that means it’s retrospective o’clock, where everyone gazes back at the last 12 months and wonders where the hell the time went. I’ll be doing a few of these, but considering Star Wars: The Force Awakens is yet to come out, I’m holding out for that movie’s release in hopelessly optimistic style to post my favourite movies.

So, here’s my favourite telly. 2015 was a cracker of a year for TV, with superheroes gradually invading every network while prestige TV just got better and better. Below are my nine favourite shows of the year (I’m fighting the establishment with everything I have by going for a top nine, fear me) – they’re not all prestige stuff, as I haven’t seen shows like The Leftovers yet, but represent a fairly decent mix of all the stuff there is. Also, it’s in no particular order. On with the show(s)!

Mr. Robot

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If you told me at the start of this year that I’d have put a show called Mr Robot on this list, I’d have laughed at you and wondered why you were talking to me about my blog in real life. Here we are though, at the end of the year, with Mr Robot sitting as one of my favourite shows of 2015.

A lot of TV aspires to be ‘relevant’,  with pop culture references and the like to ground it in a very contemporary setting. No TV show was as relevant this year as Mr Robot, however, taking the ongoing debates about surveillance, hacking and the nature of capitalism and compellingly exploring them over the course of ten great episodes. This was a zeitgeist show – lightning in a bottle that aired at just the right time to provide a surprisingly fresh and radical perspective on events.

Meticulously plotted, there were a handful of unashamedly table-setting episodes here, but it still built and built, gathering momentum until the stunning late-game twist. Anchored by Rami Malek’s terrific, off-beat portrayal of a morphine-addled manic depressive hacker, this was a show that took the traditional model of a patiently paced prestige drama and turned it upside down. I cannot wait for season two.

Fargo

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Remember what I said about ‘no particular order’? To make that point, I’ve put Fargo here.

Fargo is, without a doubt, my favourite show of the year. People were sceptical that Noah Hawley would pull off a second season of the Midwestern true crime anthology after the surprise success of the first, but as season two has proved, never doubt Noah Hawley. It speaks volumes about how terrific this second season has been that it’s actually an entirely popular opinion to say this second season has eclipsed the acclaimed first, and that’s an opinion I’d share.

Everything in season two works. There’s one of the best ensemble casts on TV, from the prominent Patrick Wilson and Kirsten Dunst, who deliver two heavyweight performances as an all-American cop and a slightly loopy hairdresser in search of self-actualisation respectively, to the more peripheral figures like Zahn McClarnon’s chillingly quiet enforcer Hanzee. The direction is stunning, wringing every last drop out of that beautiful Midwestern wintery scenery to create some David Attenborough documentary-level visuals. The writing is sharp, insightful and frequently hilarious, with a streak of absurdist humour that goes perfectly in hand with the heightened nature of this unusual world. All of those elements mix together amazingly, every episode, without fail.

You guys. Fargo is so good.

Narcos

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Narcos was kind of billed as the next Breaking Bad, and the recent Golden Globes nomination for Best Drama would indicate that this is a full-blooded prestige drama.

It’s really not.

That’s not to rag on Narcos, which made it into this list for a reason. Narcos is great, but it’s great because it’s ridiculous, not because it should be taken deathly seriously. The principle strength of this Netflix show is an impressively rapid pace that hoovers up plot like a vacuum cleaner – it’s not uncommon for a particularly eventful episode to blow through events that would take four, five episodes on another show. It skips over the dramatic consequences, but it sure is entertaining.

 

This is a really engaging story ideally tailored for Netflix’s model of binge-watching. It’s ambitious, taking in years of the hunt for Pablo Escobar, but never loses its sense of focus on the dichotomy between the DEA and Escobar’s cartel, who are portrayed as honourable enough to kind of like, but also stone-cold bastards when they need to be. There’s a hell of a lot of effective ultra-violence, and a couple of plot twists that nobody could ever make up, mainly because they’re based on real events. The last two episodes slowly lose steam due to the need to become an actual drama rather than a rapidly paced documentary with pithy voiceover, but this is a prime example of how fast pace really can work. It’s not perfect, but Narcos is the kind of show that you could very easily blast your way through entirely in one night, kind of by accident, ending in regret and shame.

 The 100

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The 100 passed me by for a season and a half, and when a friend recommended it I kind of assumed it’d be standard young adult fare – entertaining enough, but melodramatic and generic. I’m here, a year later, with a whole lot of metaphorical egg on my face.

In its second season, especially the half that aired this year, The 100 became something quite special – a hugely entertaining action show with a hell of a lot of substance beyond the gunfights and agreeably fast pace. Previously do-gooding characters transformed into heavily flawed, battle-scared people who are forced into brutal decisions that get a whole lot of innocent people killed. Previous villains became moral centres, but even they couldn’t do much to stop horrible events. And the guy who was the typical Big Good Yoda-type leader in season one became a maniacal zealot who’d kill innocent people to reach his fabled destination.

There were massive moral dilemmas that were impossible to escape from. A villain who’d harvest people’s bone marrow in cold blood just to let their people survive. A genuine sense of progressiveness with a bisexual protagonist whose sexuality has never actually been brought up on screen because it’s just kinda normal. And a finale that ended in the most horribly gut-wrenching fashion you could possibly conceive of. By ‘horribly’, I mean great, because I love emotional pain.

The 100‘s rating have never been that great, and that’s a damn crime. It’s on Netflix, so watch it nooooow!

The Flash

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One of the very few shows that would have made it onto this list last year, The Flash has already become a TV mainstay, now well into its second season. We’re pretty much used to this show’s endearing commitment to pushing the boundaries of what delightfully stupid stuff from the comics can be done in live action, and season two has continued that with appearances of alternate dimensions, re-incarnating hawk-branded vigilantes and the briefest glimpse of a city populated entirely by intelligent gorillas.

This show is just so fun, all the time, and that’s why it’s always an entertaining watch even when the dramatic parts aren’t so strong. It’s unashamedly light-hearted and wacky, but has become progressively better at including a darker side too, with a season two villain who’s basically a really fast Darth Vader.

It’s great at capturing emotional broad strokes – big, sentimental moments of complete emotional transparency that land because of effective writing and surprisingly rock-solid acting. The Flash can’t capture a lot of emotional nuance, but it’s terrific at portraying big, overpowering emotions in a genuinely affecting way.

Most of all, though, it’s just a blast. We’ve had camp villain team-ups, a roster of speed powers that now includes time travel, running through objects, limited flight and lightning throwing, and at the heart a hero who just loves being a guy who can run really fast. It’s not high art, but it’s certainly the most entertaining superhero show around.

Daredevil

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The first of Marvel’s forays into the magical world of Netflix, Daredevil was a different kind of superhero show. Dark and gritty, but meaningfully so, with the tone projecting a sense of despair and hopelessness the show needed to underline the horrible mess of Hell’s Kitchen. Thanks to Netflix’s liberal policies on what kind of content can be included in their shows, Daredevil was also by far the most violent superhero show around. But, like the tone, that violence is used in a meaningful way, leading to a set of visceral, bloody fight scenes that really effectively conveyed the sheer effort Matt Murdock is going through to take down even simple goons.

So the fight scenes and the tone were great and all, but I’ve skipped over those in order to talk about the real star of the show: Wilson effing Fisk (side note: ‘effing’ is not his middle name). I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Fisk is one of the best live-action comic book villains of all time, and that’s partially due to the really original things Daredevil does with this character. He’s introduced slowly, as a figure of fear spoken of only in whispers – then when we do see him, the rug’s pulled out from under our feet as he’s revealed as a shy, sensitive man looking for a soulmate. The magic of Fisk is that he’s incredibly sympathetic – he’s given a fully fleshed out romantic arc in place of Matt, and his end goal is entirely identical to the hero he faces; to clean up Hell’s Kitchen. He just wants to achieve it by more practical means than the more altruistic Matt. Fisk was a triumph of a villain – a layered, three-dimensional figure who you could genuinely root for even in the latter parts of the show. If everything else in this show sucked, Fisk’d keep Daredevil on this list. But it’s awesome, so it’s erm… still on this list, in no particular order.

Jessica Jones

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Well, whaddya know, it’s Daredevil‘s considerably more disturbing Netflix cousin. Jessica Jones is arguably the prestige-ier (not a word, but I have no regard for rules) of the two Netflix shows, as it’s far less of a standard superhero show. That’s no bad thing, though, and Jessica Jones is great because it takes the tropes of a superhero show and deconstructs the hell out of them.

The titular protagonist is an acerbic, frequently unpleasant person who makes a lot questionable decisions due to her crippling PTSD and alcoholism. The bad guy, Kilgrave, is a deluded rapist who kills, maims and tortures with his mind controlling abilities yet prides himself on the fact he’s never directly killed anyone. This is a dark, heavy show – but because of that it’s a thoroughly refreshing entry into the genre. There’s no kid gloves here – just sensitive, honest explorations of deep, dark subjects that barely any other property would touch with a barge pole. It’s not just for shock either, as Jessica Jones really has a considerable amount to say about these issues, mixing in meaningful social commentary with the pitch-black themes.

This show has one hell of a cast, anchored by the terrific Krysten Ritter as the spiky yet deeply vulnerable Jessica who only lets her mask slip to just one or two people, and David Tennant as Kilgrave, who utterly sells the villain’s childlike ‘me me me’ mentality and subtle yet chilling psychosis, with Mike Colter’s Luke Cage the endearing and stoic moral centre of sorts. It’s tense, violent, and thick with the tangible sense of paranoia that Jessica’s constantly suffering from – the idea that anyone could be a Kilgrave puppet is a consistent, chilling threat across the series. It may get a little too heavy at points, and drags out a little towards the end, but this is a brave show that pulls absolutely zero punches.

Better Call Saul

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Hey, remember when we were all certain that this show would be a blight upon the legacy of Breaking Bad and an example of the growing unoriginality of the TV industry?

Good times.

Better Call Saul ain’t Breaking Bad, but it was still better than it had any right to be. What I loved about this is that it kept the sun-drenched Albuquerque visuals and a few characters from the mothership and then went off completely in its own direction, relying entirely on its own merits. And there sure were plenty of merits. Saul Goodman was a kinda one-note comic relief character in Breaking Bad, but this show managed to craft a really strong character arc around the character’s ideological conflict, cleverly beginning right back when Saul was Jimmy McGill, an all around good guy and thoroughly ethical lawyer who ends up being really screwed over by life. This show’s main triumph was the result of this, which is that Saul Goodman, the guy we all laughed along with beforehand, became a textbook tragic figure – the result of the fall of a perfectly good man into moral destitution and criminality.

Anchoring all of this is Bob Odenkirk, whose comedic chops are put to plenty of use here (the ‘HERE’S JOHNNY!’ scene was particularly great), but puts pathos and decency into this surprisingly likeable central figure. Odenkirk’s scooping up all of the awards nominations, and that’s thoroughly deserved, because he was superb here. So, indeed, was Jonathan Banks returning as Mike the fixer. Banks was a comedic figure for the first few episodes with a funny running gag about parking, but he took centre stage in what’s arguably the series highpoint – a bottle episode focused around Mike’s tragic past, in which the normally stoic Mike completely breaks. I hate myself for saying this, but it hit me right in the feels. With a blackly comedic tone and a compelling central arc, Better Call Saul was a worthy, if not superior successor to Breaking Bad, and left so much to build upon in season two.

Doctor Who

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If you know me well, you might be rolling your eyes a little. ‘Really, Louis? Kicking out legitimately good shows for your pet favourite? No wonder no-one reads your blog.’

Well, hypothetical friend, you’re a really terrible friend. And wrong on two of those accounts, even if you’re right on the third.

As the kids say, Doctor Who was legit this year. It was, as the kids also say, lit. Some fans will tell you it sucked, but they say that every year and should therefore be ignored. Anyway, this year’s season was potentially the strongest in a decade. I think part of this is due to the move towards slightly more serialised storytelling, with two-parters and even one three-parter aplenty and a couple of recurring characters throughout the season, which allowed the show to slow down, breathe, and really explore the concepts it had created, building effectively to an earned conclusion rather than hyperactively burning through plot and missing out on all the good stuff. It could also be because of the willingness to tackle more mature, meatier themes, such as the nature of grieving, fundamentalism and radicalisation… and erm, sleep dust monsters (not the show’s finest hour, but hey).

 

Those reasons are all very well and good, but it falls short to the Prime Reason. That reason, of course, is Peter bloody Capaldi, as I’ve now conditioned myself to call him. The writers really ‘got’ his Doctor this year, softening him up and allowing Capaldi to joke about a little while maintaining the existential, darker edge of last year. Most of all, though, they gave him more. Terrific dialogues with villains. A ten-minute monologue on the cyclical nature of war delivered with an incredible intensity and rawness. And the show’s masterpiece this year – a 55 minute episode with only Capaldi, which he carries as if it’s nothing. Also helps that that episode was incredibly clever – a trippy instalment thick with foreshadowing, huge revelations and a conclusion so good I feel a slightly strange urge to clap every time I watch it.

Doctor Who wasn’t perfect this year, but it really took it up a notch and became TV that had something to say, alongside all the fun monsters and increasingly great appearances from Maisie Williams. That supposed hiatus couldn’t have come at a worse time.

So that’s my favourite telly of the year! Keep an eye out for my favourite movies of the year some time, as well as a live review of Avengers: Age of Ultron and a diary of all the times this year that I failed to complete a binge watch of a show.

Ha. Implying I have readers.

Sigh.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Am Alive, Can Confirm

Hey, reader!

I’ve been inundated with messages (I’ve had literally tonnes, but I may have been dreaming at the time) about my prolonged absence from the blogosphere. Literally tonnes. Li-ter-ally.

My bad with that one.

A deadly combination of school, laziness and a whole bunch of other online writing (fall TV, man) have somewhat done me in regarding this blog, meaning that the latest post before this was a spoiler-free review of the premiere of a 12-episode Doctor Who series that finished this weekend.

But fear not, loyal two readers!

School is coming to an end, and fall TV is in winter finale mode. The long and the short: thanks to all those lovely Christmas breaks, blogging will shortly re-commence.

Please contain the vocal excitement, there are children sleeping.

It’s coming up to the end of the year, and if I’m good at anything it’s wistful retrospectives of a year, pretending it felt like ages when it actually lasted about two minutes. So expect plenty of ‘best of 2015’ guff, including my favourite episodes of the year, favourite shows and favourite movies.

If that sounds too positive, rest assured that I’ll find a place to kick Fantastic Four for being a dreadful piece of nonsense somewhere.

But before that, there’s the tiny matter of a small indie movie coming to cinemas next week.

War Stars, I think?

Anyway, yeah, blog’s back soon and 2015/Star Wars stuff. Yay.