Loki (S1) | A Somewhat Complex Talkathon

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe Television Series that were announced Loki was the one that I was the most excited for. Not because I am a Loki or Tom Hiddleston mega stan – Hiddleston can get it I’ll admit that – but the look, the feel of the show and the time element sold me on it. The head writer Michael Waldron was not known to me but I’ve seen and enjoyed Ricky and Morty; same thing for the director Kate Herron (Daybreak, Sex Education). However, I had to admit that the rest of the cast was both known to me and surprised the heck out of me. I mean we have Owen Wilson (Marley & Me, Inherent Vice), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Come Away, Concussion, Belle, Miss Sloane), Sophia Di Martino (Yesterday, Into the Badlands), Richard E. Grant (Star Wars IX, The Nutcracker, Logan, GoT), and Wunmi Mosaku (Lovecraft Country, The End of the F***ing World, Philomena).

Premise: In Avengers: Endgame – where an alternate version of Loki created a new timeline when he stole the Tesseract – the TVA (Time Variance Authority), a bureaucratic organization that exists outside of time and space who monitors the timeline. They give that alternate Loki a choice: face being erased from existence due to being a “time variant”, or help fix the timeline to stop a greater threat. Loki ends up trapped in his own crime thriller, traveling through time and altering human history.

Review: Not sure what I expected the series to be but this ain’t it, and I’m glad about it. The show is a bit more complex and smarter than I would have guessed. It’s designed for a specific type of fan, one that knows the MCU like the back of his hand, who loves to speculate about it, and would pick up on the many implications the series has.

By putting the 2014 Avengers’ Loki in this situations, being outside of the MCU we know and protecting it from anything that might disturb it. From a character’s perspective, it gets a bit fascinating because we know the growth Loki’s capable of, he can become a somewhat nice guy. However the one in the show is still angry and bitter, just like ours was back in 2014. So the process of getting him where we know he could be starts anew and that is, when I think about it, the redundant part of the show. As great as it was to see the old Loki back in the beginning of the season, it kind of gets old because regressions aren’t very fun to watch. I think it’s why Mobius is a lifeline at the start, and when he wasn’t there, he was missed.

Since this Loki has a different experience during the series, the road to get him where we know he can be wasn’t very exciting for me. For a good chunk of it the show seemed a bit slow, not much was happening, there was a lot of talking, but it was necessary. We needed the time to redefine the 2014 Loki. The quips, the memorable lines, and the visuals in the series were a good distraction but the show wasn’t as exciting as WandaVision or Falcon and The Winter Soldier got by the second half of the season.

Despite amazing action scenes, the story is cerebral throughout, like a chess game. The main vilain being a bit abstract, a vague entity that they’re up against and that we don’t really know, the action scenes have a different impact. To me Loki is best when he has a clear concrete foe, someone we know, which is why I think season two will be even better. We’ve met that vilain, a variant at least, and by the time next season rolls out we will have learn more about that enemy.

Pacing and story aside the cast does a great job, casting is key here. They are one of the reasons why I was so engaged. When the pace was a bit slow, the story not developing fast enough, they kept me entertained. The visuals were also amazing, hands down more impressive than all the shows so far. It helped getting immerse in the story but also with the scope. It very much felt like what was happening in this show will have repercussions not only on the main characters but on the cinematic universe at large.

So season 1 of Loki is visually striking, fun, very well acted and a great primer for the following MCU films and the upcoming season 2.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the links below:

Cruella | Amazing Performances, Costumes and Production Designs

The third live-action adaptation of Dodie Smith‘s 1956 novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” was announced by Disney in 2013. I wasn’t too much into the idea since I barely remembered the animated movie or the Glenn Close ones. Then Maleficent came along and didn’t know what to expect from this movie since they did a 180 on that vilain. Casting Emma Stone (The Help) in the title role did not help in that matter because I can’t think of a movie where she is the vilain. She’s a brilliant actress but a vilain? I wasn’t sure.
However the rest of the cast is so strong that I couldn’t ignore this movie, there’s Emma Thompson (MWC, Creatures), Mark Strong (Sleep, Game), Joel Fry (Benjamin, Paddington 2, GoT), Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell, BlacKkKlansman, Kingdom), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Killing Eve), John McCrea (Dracula, The Sandman) & Emily Beecham (Outside the Wire, Into the Badlands). I, Tonya‘s Craig Gillespie is directing with a screenplay by Dana Fox (Home Before Dark) and Tony McNamara (The Great) from a story by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada), Kelly Marcel (Venom, Mr. Banks), and Steve Zissis (The Comey Rules, Togetherness).

Premise: Estella is a creative child with an interest in fashion but has a cruel streak, leading her mother Catherine to nickname her “Cruella”. After a tragic night during which Estella is orphaned, she flees to London where she meets two petty thieves Jasper and Horace. Ten years later, Estella is making ends meet as a thief with Jasper and Horace while pursuing her passion for fashion by designing their disguises. In an attempt to go straight, she eventually lands a coveted job with the Baroness, who is a renowned but authoritarian haute couture designer. Working for the Baroness something from her childhood resurfaces leading Estella to lean into her darker side.

Review: If it wasn’t for the trailers I am not sure if the first fifteen minutes of the movie would have been enough for me to keep watching. I liked the idea and how it sets up the movie but the execution was a bit rough. Once that bridge is crossed the movie gets better.

Story wise there has a lot of setup, in fact an argument could be made that this movie is all setup, since it’s an origin movie and a good amount of its runtime is on building the characters. So it might seem a bit slow to get going but that’s offset by the fashion elements that are visually striking and the comedic tone. This movie is dripping with cynicism and style, it’s darkly funny and has so many great character moments, even the CGI dogs were great.
From what I remember from The Hundred and One Dalmatians, Cruella was just crazy, charismatic yes but cray cray. Here she’s still charismatic but more unhinged and calculating, there’s a genius to her madness. She’s ambitious and scrappy and I liked it. She’s not afraid to use her friends, and I do mean use them like tools, on her pursuit of power. And having spent time getting to know Estella with her friends Jasper and Horace, it’s more striking when that shift happens as she leans into her darker side.

The ensemble cast is great, even though Emma Stone and Emma Thompson deliver amazing performances. I love how the two women contrast each other, not in a good versus bad, more in a bad versus worse with an understanding that the bad, which is Cruella, can easily turn into the worse, which is the Baroness, because power corrupts and there’s even glimpses of this in Cruella’s behavior. I liked the begrudging respect the two had for each other, making their battle of wits more entertaining, and I love how these two women are essentially competing for a job. John McCrea‘s Artie is unapologetically queer and totally pulling a Noel Fielding and I’m here for it. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hausser were great and kind of the heart of the movie for me because like Mark Strong‘s character they’re the goodish guys. With Fry’s Jasper being the one able to rein Cruella in a bit. And as for Anita and Roger are so smartly cast and used in this movie but they remain more of a tease to what’s to come.

Cruella is a fun dark movie which is beautifully styled from the characters, to the sets and the soundtrack. It’s worth the watch.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, help us by getting them from the links below:

Hamilton | Quite the Crescendo

I remember when Hamilton hit it big. Everyone was talking about it, they gushed about the music, the cast, but despite all that I never really checked out the music. Why? I don’t know, I guess I wanted to see it. I figured the music wouldn’t resonate as much if I had no frame of reference. I wanted to see the musical so then the music would dredge up my memories of the musical. Thanks to Disney+ I got the chance to finally experience it.

While I learned about one of the United States’ Founding Fathers, I also learned what a book musical is. It’s the music, lyrics, and book of a musical. The book here refers to the script, meaning the story, character development, dramatic structure, dialogues and stage directions – I guess it’s obvious now that I’m no Muscial Theatre nerd.

Hamilton is for many associated with Lin Manuel-Miranda (Mary Poppins Return), who wrote the book musical, but little did I know that it was inspired by the biography “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. I heard the cast was awesome but I didn’t expect to know any of them and I was wrong – for some of them I didn’t know they could sing. Obviously, I got to know most of them after the musical became a sensation, I just didn’t know that it was their big break.

Filmed live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original Broadway cast Phillipa Soo (The Code), Leslie Odom Jr. (Murder on the Orient Express), Renée Elise Goldsberry (Altered Carbon), Chris Jackson (Bull), Daveed Diggs (Snowpiercer), Okieriete Onaodowan (Station 19), Anthony Ramos (A Star Is Born), Jasmine Cephas Jones (Mrs. Fletcher), Sydney James Harcourt (Tell Me A Story), Ephraim Sykes (Vinyl), and Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Glee).

Premise: The real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.

Review: Going in I knew Hamilton: The Musical was two hours and forty minutes long. What I didn’t know, well most likely forgot, is that it’s in two acts, and that’s important. Not being a Musical Theatre aficionado the run time was daunting, but once I started I was kind of feeling it. I was totally engaged – I had to be – because this is a little dense. They sing the whole time, I mean the whole time. It feels like one long as song, with tons of information in lyrics that you don’t always understand. So I had to be “on” if I didn’t want to miss something. At some points of the first act it felt like they were lip-syncing, or as if they put the audio of one performance on the images of another, the sound mixing looked off.

By the time the intermission came, it was like a slapped to my face, because like I mentioned I forgot about it so I thought that it was the end of the musical. I was mildly entertain by what I saw and was ready to move on. It legit made me sweat when I realize I had over an hour to go.

The second act was truly a breath of fresh air. I felt like I learned more in that part then the first. There was a lot of variety in the songs, which were amazing, but I was captivated by what was going on, not because I could miss something important, I was just entertained. I also appreciated that they didn’t sanitize the more questionable aspects of the story. It got me to like the cast even more. I was looking at the performances and soaking in the history.

Hamilton is worth the watch it’s crescendo with the first act feels like a intro that’s running a little long but once you’re in the thick of it, it’s fun, and clever.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

You can get the book this is based on here

Artemis Fowl: Time To Believe | That Haphazardly Shredded Chunks of Story Does Not Make a Good Movie

Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Cinderella) and based on – not really – inspired by – nop – dressed as the beloved books by Eoin Colfer. The film stars Ferdia Shaw, Lara McDonnell, Tamara Smart, Nonzo Anozie, with Josh Gad, and Judi Dench. The screenplay is by Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl.

Premise: Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw), a young Irish criminal mastermind, kidnaps the fairy LEPrecon officer Captain Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) for ransom to fund the search for his missing father in order to restore the family fortune. – no that’s book 1, let’s try again – ARTEMIS FOWL: Time To Believe follows 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl, a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds, as he finds himself in a battle of strength and cunning against a powerful, hidden race of fairies who may be behind his father’s disappearance – close enough.

Review: The teaser trailer for this film gave me goosebumps because the voice over and some of the scenes showed in it reminded me of that first book. I was excited and really curious to see the film, never did I consider at the time who – the company – was making this film. I guess the first warning sign was with the boy they cast Ferdia Shaw. He’s a sweet faced boy that in hindsight, I could not imagine being an antagonist. Besides between the teaser trailer and the trailer there was extensive delays, which make me think that they changed the story somehow.

It’s evident that they Disney-fied – in all the wrong ways – Artemis’ story. You might ask Disney-fied in what way? First, the mom is dead – because a living mom in a children movie is unthinkable, or a depressed absentee mom is not a good Disney look. Her death makes it unlikely that he’ll have his little twin brothers later on.

They present Artemis as very smart, arrogant and cool headed but barely 15 minutes in he loses his cool letting his emotions run amuck. It became apparent to me then that the boy would be inconsistent. I had to pause, let this wash over me, and then tried to understand what F happened? Was it a previous script that Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl merge with Artemis Fowl, putting an Artemis Fowl coat on it? Because one or bith of them f’d up. I suspect McColl because last I checked, only McPherson was mentioned as screenwriter. I’m trying to point fingers but I want to understand. If you put the book aside it’s a still bad movie with interesting visuals.

I understand that the original story might have made Disney – and their test audiences – sweat. A genius tween, with a vanished father and a mom with crippling depression, that ends up kidnapping a tween-looking fairy girl to get rich might not be a story they’d be 100% comfortable with. Looking at the teaser trailer and the trailer you can tell that a course correction was made. I understand the need for change, in fact there’s a kernel of a decent idea in the mess the movie was.

So what to do? You can cry about how they might have ruined the beloved books for the general public, you can also look at Artemis Fowl: Time To Believe as a case study in movie making. Debating what creative and business decisions lead to the movie we’ve gotten? How a compagny’s image throttle the core idea of a book? The dissertation proposal are plenty.

Or you be like me, comforted by the fact that someone – whether they’ve read the book or not, like the movie or not – might see this film and be encouraged / inspired to be creative. Because for the first time, in a long time, I want to re-write a movie; I’m actually thinking about it.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

I strongly recommend to check out or just get the books here: US | EU | UK

The Finest Hours | Trailers

Review: I saw this trailer at the movies in front of Ant-Man, and I have to say it looks epic. The trailer sucked me in within seconds, the action does not looked too CGI-ish, and it showed enough about the story and the characters to peak my interest. The Finest Hours looks like a good dramatic thriller with award worthy performances. 

I like the cast, the time period, the accents, and the action but what about you guys what did you think of trailer?

Cinderella | Review

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the live action retelling of the classical folk tale stars Lily James (Downtown Abbey, Wrath of the Titans) as Cinderella, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit) as the evil stepmother, and Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club) as the Fairy Godmother. The film was directed by kenneth Branagh (Thor).

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The premise of “Cinderella” follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home. But, when Ella’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family.

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Review: At first, I was not necessarily convinced that a Cinderella live action film would be interesting but Kenneth Branagh at the director’s chair & Cate Blanchett as the stepmother made me rethink my position. The project became less of a silly little film with these two on board.

Cinderella was a beautiful film, very tasteful, colorful, touching and classy. It’s a very different Cinderella but it had the spirit of the animated film. The stepmother, Cinderella herself, and the prince were different, they had more substance, they multidimensional and that’s mostly true for the stepmother and the prince. They are not filling up space, they were more than just window dressing the Cinderella show. The stepmother made more sense, you could actually understand how she came to be that b*tch in Ella’s life. The prince is no longer a pretty boy whose name no one bothers to mention, he’s a character with hopes and dreams, and sliver of personality to make him interesting. They even played off the fact that a girl confined to the attic, who likes

talking to animals is a bit weird – cute weird but weird still -, which made the movie feel real while managing to keep the magic and the wonder intact.

The ensemble cast really elevated the film, they embodied the characters we came to know and love but portrayed them in quite a unique way. So like millions, I guess you’ve watched the film what did you think?