Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Neighbours From Hell

Written by James Wong
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Meadow: "Hello les. I think you're a horrible person."
Ally (to Ivy): "That bitch hung up on me."

In this episode, Ally's accidental killing of Pedro could've had more consequences for her but it didn't. Basic self defense laws (in spite of Pedro being an innocent man) meant that she didn't face any jail time for her actions but it certainly brought about a lot of ire as she became labelled the "lesbian George Zimmerman" and incurred the wrath of her quirky neighbours from hell.

The Obama hating, gun collecting half gay/straight coupling of Harrison and Meadow decided to spend a chunk of this episode being suitably vile to Ally by calling her out on cultural appropriation (hilarious when they were wearing the sombreros themselves), putting up some horrible ads on Craigslist and giving Oz a pet guinea pig, which later came to an unpleasant ending that wasn't entirely shocking for this show.

Ally tolerated some of their new neighbours torments but the last one was enough to make her slap the shit out of Harrison before threatening to kill both him and Meadow. In those moments, I quite liked Ally. For the rest of the episode, the character still grated at times that when Ivy slapped her over the whole Winter situation from last week, I actively cheered the latter on.

However, whatever animosity there was between Ally/Ivy and Harrison/Meadow, the episode ended with them both set up as future targets for the killer (that smiley face in blood) and with Meadow supposedly missing as well. I don't know if Meadow actually is missing but I do know that both her and Harrison are linked to Kai and he certainly seemed to working on turning the pair against each other during his pinky scenes this week.

Kai mainly seemed to be taking a bit of a backseat this week but at the same time, it's like every episode has to go out of it's way to find some way to have him and Ally interact though. This week he was commending her for defending herself while trying to protect her from an angry mob. I have no idea what their next encounter is going to look like but I get the feeling that Kai will sink his hooks into Ally pretty soon as she's further isolated from Ivy.

- Rudy the therapist definitely seems to be involved with the cult in some way as that couple at the start were trapped in coffins to die pretty soon after his session with them.
- We properly saw Beverly Hope this week in at least two scenes and next week another familiar actress is back. Also are Harrison and Detective Samuels an item too?
- So is who is spraying the gas on Ally and Ivy's lawn in the middle of night and why hasn't Winter been fired yet?
- Chronology: From where the previous episode left off.

Bit of an oddball episode for me. Neighbours From Hell didn't advance the cult stuff too much and again, Ally's hysteria is beginning to lose my sympathy for her, even if she is being gaslighted by certain people. The scene where she talked about "cisnormative pet names" was some of the most vomit inducing dialogue ever spoken on the show. On the other hand, next week's episode looks really good.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Halloween 2018 Movie: The Night Laurie Strode Came Home

Yeah, you heard right, people. Even Michael Myers can't keep the most iconic final girl in the horror franchise down and he's certainly spent several decades trying to.

Yesterday through her own Twitter account, actress Jamie Lee Curtis (and on Instagram too) tweeted the following ....

"Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween."

Despite the fact that Curtis's character, Laurie Strode was murdered by relentless killing machine, Michael Myers at the start of 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, it seems that she will be appearing in next year's untitled Halloween movie, which could mean anything. Perhaps Laurie's death will be ignored or maybe she'll be some kind of ghost but seeing Curtis kitted out in her original costume in the picture above certainly generated a lot of buzz online. It has been rumoured that the movie will be a sequel to Halloween 2 though I thought 1998's Halloween: H20 somewhat covered that.

The original Halloween movie came out in 1978 with seven sequels spawning between 1981 and 2002, before the franchise was rebooted (rather pointlessly) by Rob Zombie in 2007 and 2009 with Scout Taylor-Compton in the role of Strode and plenty of unwarranted backstory to boot and other unpleasantness, because you know it's from that director. As you can tell, I'm not big on those particular movies, which deserve to be purged from existence.

The new movie will be made by Blumhouse, Miramax and Trancas. The director of the original movie/co-creator of the franchise, John Carpenter will executive produce along with Gordon Green and McBride’s Rough House Pictures. Danny McBride will be scripting the movie along with David Gordon Green.

Also because of this news, I'm gonna have to speed up and complete my reviews for the remaining Halloween movies I've not reviewed yet. I'm absolutely delighted by this news. I never thought we'd see Laurie Strode in a non reboot movie again and now we are. How cool is that?

Press Release:

The upcoming/untitled Halloween movie will be released on October 19th 2018.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Written by Tim Minear
Directed by Liza Johnson

Ally: "That's not true, those numbers don't seem right to me. Where are you getting your information from?"
Kai: "Facebook!"

Ah yes, because the instant reactionary that is social media evidently is the best to make an argument for virtually anything. I'll give Ally points for calling out Kai on his readiness to believe random statistics from Facebook but everything else about the character is starting to grate on me a little.

I get that she's got fears (clowns, holes, bees etc) and that she's on the edge and while I definitely think Sarah Paulson is doing a commendable job nonetheless, unless something happens really fast, then Ally is going to further grate on me as a character. There's only so much the show can milk out of the character's growing paranoia and two episodes in, it's starting to feel like we're already at saturation point with her.

This week though when Ally wasn't freaking out about seeing clowns in bed with her, she also had the misfortune of finding her chef's dead body in the restaurant and ended the episode by accidentally shooting Pedro when the power went out and her new neighbour intensified the paranoia with his talk of terrorist threats.

Speaking of the new neighbours - this week we were introduced to married couple, Harrison and Meadow Wilton (Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman) and already, I'm both fascinated and a little creeped out by them. Both besties - the gay beekeeper and his cancer surviving/pharmaceutical saleswoman wife certainly gave us a lot of information about themselves which managed to send Ally into something of a tizzy at times. Still though they did add a bit of colour to an episode that felt a bit beige at times.

Keeping with the inappropriate for a moment, I genuinely cannot decide what Winter's game actually is. While Kai used his 'beating' to garner some public support and a bid to run for city councilor, Winter seemed more intent on playing mind games with both Oz and Ally for her own amusement. She forced the former into the pinky thing that her and Kai have going on while trying to seduce the latter with a bubble bath. The only person she hasn't manipulated so far is Ivy but I'm sure that will happen soon enough.

As for the political commentary - eh, it was still OTT at times here. I think had this season aired earlier in the year, a lot of the themes (fear, immigrants, walls/bridges etc) would have been a lot more effective but despite some of the show's best intentions, a lot of it is simply not coming together as strongly as it should be.

- Harrison/Meadow aside we were also introduced to Adina Porter's reporter, Beverly Hope for a brief moment this week.
- Oz is short for Ozymandias, which seems appropriate for this season. We also got another Twisty cameo this week.
- Both Ivy and Rudy seemed like they could be planning another solution for Ally if they figure out that she isn't taking her medication.
- Chronology: From where the end of the previous episode left off.

Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark was solid enough but again, the show needs to move away from the election commentary because at the moment, it seems to be holding it back. It's time to really embrace the horror and go mad with the clowns and get the actual cult theme up and running instead of treading the post Trump political blues.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Aladdin - Further Casting & New Roles Created

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the castings for Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie for the upcoming live action reboot of Disney's Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie. Now further casting has been revealed and one in particular is a rather controversial choice too.

In a role not featured in the movie and where the controversial bit comes in, Billy Magnussen has been cast in the role of Prince Anders. A newly created role for the movie, the Into The Woods actor will play a potential suitor for Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) from the fictional place of Skanland. Already this casting decision has seen accusations of whitewashing for the movie and while I'm not sure the movie actually needs the character, I also don't think Anders will be taking any spotlight away from the main characters.

As for the villain of the piece, it seems the role of Jafar will be going to Marwan Kenzari. The actor known for his roles in The Mummy and the upcoming Murder On The Orient Express will play the evil vizer of the Sultan who will scheme to take over Agrabah while also taking on the title character himself, as played by Mena Massoud. I got to admit that Jafar looks pretty hot, casting wise.

As for the Sultan himself, the role will be going to Navid Negahban. The actor who has appeared in Homeland as Abu Nabir and in the US version of Mistresses will be the father of Princess Jasmine, trying to marry her daughter off while also falling fowl to Jafar.

Meanwhile it seems that the villainous Raoul is either being replace or simply renamed as Numan Acar will be playing the role of guard Hakim, who seems to be Jafar's right hand man in the movie. I hope this doesn't mean we're losing Iago though.

The last bit of casting for now (but revealed weeks ago) is Nasim Pedrad. The Scream Queens actress will be playing an original character in the movie named Dalia, who has been described as a handmaid and confidante for Princess Jasmine.

I think that's probably it for casting announcements now. Filming for Aladdin should be starting within the next few months for released on May 24th 2019.

Friday, September 08, 2017

My Review of American Horror Story: Cult - Election Night

Written by Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
Directed by Bradley Buecker

Kai (to Mr Chang): "I said there is nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man."

Okay, I've had some mixed feelings on this upcoming season to be honest. On one hand, I'm surprised it's taken the show until it's seventh season to actually do a season involving cults but on the other hand, I cannot be the only one who has become fatigued by Trump infecting the media.

I hate the guy as much as the next person and I certainly think he shouldn't be president either but sifting through this first episode alone as our lead female character of the piece Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her wife, Ivy (Alison Pill) watched the results of the orangey one's victory back in November and despite sympathizing with Ally's reaction, I also found it as cringe inducing as Kai Anderson's (Evan Peters) more elated reaction to proceedings.

Seeing the contrasting reactions would've been more interesting had I not seen the same thing over social media for the last ten months, so I kind of feel like we've already done this even before the episode was ten minutes into proceedings already. What we didn't see were the more neutral or muted reactions to the election but with ten episodes left to go, it's likely we will at some point.

Trump becoming president however is a part of this season's narrative and also motivating both Ally and Kai's actions in this one and for the season. Ally seems to be driven by fear, mainly of clowns as she freaks out when she catches her son, Ozzie reading a Twisty The Clown comic book while imagining clowns everywhere she goes, including one volatile moment in the supermarket, much to Ivy's own frustrations.

Kai on the other hand, when he wasn't taking pleasure in forcing his sister, Winter (Billie Lourd) in making some confessions and throwing coffee over Ally and Ivy also took the time to spread some racist rhetoric around town while also getting himself beaten up for a scheme that we should see the results fairly soon I bet.

As for the gross out moments of the moment, we did get to see Twisty murdering another couple in the comics while a group of clowns also broke into the Changs home and murdered them, which gave some justification for Ally's triggered fears of them. Then there was also Winter becoming Ozzie's babysitter and being all kinds of inappropriate by showing the kid gruesome videos online and gaslighting him in front of his concerned parents. Safe to say that Winter is just as unhinged as her 4Chan inspired sibling is to be honest.

- Other characters we saw in the episode briefly were Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono), Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) - Ally's therapist and Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes).
- Ally and Ivy run a restaurant called The Butchery On Main. This season is also set in Michigan. I also found it interesting that Ally didn't actually vote Clinton either. Nice enough twist there.
- Is Twisty going to be kept to comics or will he actually surface in the present day?
- Chronology: November 2016 before swiftly moving into early 2017 it seems.

Election Night wasn't the strongest opening episode we've had and while the commentary is timely, it has been so prevalent on social media that I think part of it's impact didn't quite land as it should have done. Still though, there were plenty of great moments in the episode and if we can move away from the Trump/Clinton bits and focus on the clowns that would be nice.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Titans - Cast Members For Upcoming DC Digital Series Announced

I've been waiting to do a blog on this one for a while and now seems like the right as three cast members have been announced for the upcoming DC Comics Digital Service series, Titans.

Brenton Thwaites, recently seen in Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 has bagged the role of Dick Grayson. However the press release has started that he will be the future leader of the Titans, while also giving up life as a cop to resume his heroics. I got to admit I'm surprised with Thwaites's casting. I honestly thought if he were going to be involved in the DC universe, it would be on the big screen but this is an interesting development. As for the controversy with Thwaites casting, I can see both sides of the arguments but I'd rather give the guy a chance before writing him off though.

Meanwhile Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire. The actress who recently appeared in 24: Legacy will play the orange skinned alien and there has been some comments on her casting. Having not really seen her in action, I have no informed opinion but I'm sure Diop will be great as Starfire.

The last bit of casting for now is that Teagan Croft will be playing the role of Raven for the digital series. The upcoming series is being spearheaded by Arrow universe showrunner Greg Berlanti along with Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns and Sarah Schechter. I'll post more updates when Beast Boy and the rest of the series main players are cast.

Press Release:

Titans will be released on DC Comics streaming services in 2018.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Defenders Assemble But Not Yet Though

Yup, this one is a bit of a Marvel/Netflix special in some ways as I completed two of their shows and started the other one though.

Game Of Thrones: The last three episodes of Season Seven certainly ramped up basically everything, didn't it? We had some welcome deaths (Littlefinger, you won't be missed), some shocks (Viseron being taken over by the Night King) and that melee with Jon, Daenerys and Cersei as the latter took her self preservation to a new level, which meant even isolating Jaime of all people. The reveal of Jon's heritage from last season got more expansion during the worst/most clickbait grabbing moment and with six episodes left before the end in 2019 (the current rumour for the eighth season to air), the final moments as the White Walkers make their biggest attack yet was a hell of a way to end an overall excellent penultimate season.

Iron Fist: The weakest of the Marvel/Netflix shows still, but I'll admit things did pick a little in the second half of the season. Adding both Bakuto and Davos into the mix livened up the interactions between Danny, Colleen and Claire as the Hand storyline took something of a brief pause in the finale while Ward and Joy both had to deal with the fallout of Harold's increasingly unhinged behaviour. While I do think there were times where Finn Jones struggled a bit in the role, I am hoping that between The Defenders (which I've just started) and this show's proposed second season the show gets a better handle on Danny. There's certainly potential for that.

Luke Cage: Like it's other Marvel series, this is a show that could do with better pacing but saying that, the second half was pretty solid stuff. I liked the Mariah/Shades team up after Cottonmouth was taken out of the picture along with Luke and Diamondback finally going head to head. The finale didn't feel quite like an event compared to other ones but it was a good way to end the series. I also have to give props to both Misty and Claire, both of whom got better as the series went along, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of them next season.

Midnight, Texas: I've been sticking with this show and while it's not gripping as True Blood was back in the day, it's still a lot of fun to watch. Focusing on characters like Lemuel, Olivia and Fiji certainly doesn't hurt the series as they're easily the three strongest of the bunch but there isn't anyone I actively dislike. Manfred and Creek's budding relationship isn't hugely compelling but it's nice enough and the mix of baddies like a Succubus and that biker gang does keep things moving along at a nice pace along with the arc hints here and there. Just five more episodes to go.

Orange Is The New Black: I've loved this season and given that the riot arc could've easily wore thin after a few episodes, I'm genuinely surprised that the writers managed to get a whole season's worth of a story out of it. Of course it had to come to an end but with the cliffhanger we've got, there's also the chance we might lose a character or two going into the show's sixth season. In terms of flashbacks, I quite enjoyed Piper and Alex's (even with the return of Larry) and their engagement was rather sweet. Next season should be very interesting.

The Defenders: Blitzing through both Luke Cage and Iron Fist in the last week meant getting to the first two episodes of this team up and so far, so good. I've loved seeing the various characters from each show interacting with one another and while we've only had half the gang interacting so far - Luke and Danny, Matt and Jessica, the build up has certainly been rather fun to see. As for Alexandra/Madame Gao/The Hand stuff - at least it's actually going somewhere now and with Elektra and Stick in the mix, I can imagine a lot of bad shit is about to go down in the remaining episodes of this crossover series.

- Ben Platt will be guesting in Will & Grace while Minnie Driver will also reprise her role as Lorraine in the upcoming season.
- Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose will be returning for Season 11 of The X Files.
- Lena Dunham will be playing Valerie Solanas in American Horror Story: Cult. Emma Roberts will be playing a newscaster named Serina Belinda for an episode. Angela Bassett will direct the ninth episode in the upcoming season.
- UK viewers will be able to see The Gifted on FOX from October.
- UK viewers also can see the first season of Star on 5* from this Thursday. It's also been rumoured that Empire will be moved there as well instead of E4 for it's upcoming fourth season.
- Jane The Virgin's fourth season will now be 17 episodes.
- Richard Flood will recur in Shameless's eighth season.
- Kevin Ryan will guest in Once Upon A Time's seventh season.
- Anna Diop and Teagan Croft have been cast as Starfire and Raven respectively for the upcoming live action Teen Titans TV series.
- Katee Sackhoff has a recurring in The Flash's fourth season as the villain, Blacksmith.