Enola Holmes | A Great Synergy of Writing, Acting, Directing and Everything in Between

It was only when the movie was annouced that I became aware of Enola Holmes. Although a newer character in the Sherlock Holmes mythology, I wasn’t phased by it because I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many versions of Sherlock, Watson, and Mycroft. Directed by Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Dickensian) and adapted by Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials) , this movie stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, Wonderland) as the titular character, Helena Bonham Carter (Cinderella) as Mrs. Holmes, Henry Cavill (The Witcher) as the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and Sam Claflin (Mockingjay, The Riot Club; Love, Rosie) as Mycroft Holmes. The cast also features Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), Adeel Akhtar (Les Misérables), Frances de la Tour (Outlander, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Louis Partridge (Paddington 2), Susan Wokoma (Truth Seekers) and Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones, The Expanse).

This offshoot featuring Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle‘s famous character comes from The Enola Holmes Mysteries a series of six books by Nancy Springer. So if this movie goes well there’s chance for film series. This movie is inspired by The Case of the Missing Marquessbook one of the series and it is set in 1884, England like Conan doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works.

Premise: After a free-spirited childhood, Enola Holmes – Sherlock’s teen sister – wakes on the morning of her 16th birthday and discovers her mother has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts but no apparent clue as to where she’s gone or why. Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies. Refusing to follow their wishes, Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. But her journey finds her entangled in a mystery surrounding a young runaway Lord. Enola becomes a super-sleuth in her own right, outwitting her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history.

Review: Giving that the books skew a little younger, I was curious to see how this movie would turn out. The ad campaign for Enola Holmes presented a beautiful and somewhat interesting film, and it very much is.

The run time made me flinch but Enola Holmes is delightful. It’s the easiest two hours of entertainment I’ve spent lately. I was engaged the whole time. The story is easy to follow, some might say too easy but since the books are geared toward children it makes sense to me that the mystery, well mysteries, around the film would also be accessible to a younger audience. The movie has good rhythm and gives the great collection of characters is has enough time to shine.

For a period piece, the diversity is better that what I would have guessed, it’s subtle but very effective. It’s not pandering and very much feels like they picked the right actors for these specific roles.

Speaking of actors, the cast is incredible, the movie is well cast. Like I said in my trailer reaction, Helena Bonham Carter tells you everything you need to know about her character with her casting alone. Obviously the movie gives you more, but I felt I understood who Enola’s mom was without needing an excessive amount of backstory. Sam Claflin and Henry Cavill make a great Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, they work well as a pair and that’s particularly true for Cavill’s Sherlock. Millie Bobby Brown is perfect in the role, from the breaking of the forth wall to the actions scenes. She makes a compelling Enola, who is not afraid to use all the tools at her disposal, privilege included, to help. The movie goes full girl power but there is no role reversal for the love interest and Louis Partridge does a fantastic job, he’s great match with Brown.

The production design, the score, costumes, the directing, writing and acting compliment each other. It makes for a very entertaining movie that I wouldn’t mind rewatching, or see a follow up story, there are six books after all.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

The book:

Get it here

The Devil All the Time | A Circle of Bad Things

The novel this movie is based on is not one that I would have picked up. One of the reasons I ended up watching the film is the producer Jake Gyllenhaal (Spider-Man: Far from Home, Brokeback Mountain), and the cast which includes Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Mudbound), Bill Skarsgard (It, Deadpool 2, Allegiant), Harry Melling (The Old Guard), Sebastian Stan (I, Tonya, The Winter Soldier), Robert Pattinson (Tenet, Cosmopolis), and Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming). My description of the cast make the movie soundsm like a sausage fest but it’s not. There are female characters, portrayed by some well known-ish actresses Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road), Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, Marley & Me), Eliza Scanlen (Little Women, Sharp Objects); but it’s really the boys’ story.

Donald Ray Pollock‘s book The Devil All The Time is adapted by Paulo Campos and director Antonio Campos (The Sinner).

Premise: Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, The Devil All the Time follows a cast of compelling and sinister characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. There’s Willard Russell, tormented veteran of the carnage in the South Pacific. There’s Carl and Sandy Henderson, a husband-and-wife team of serial killers, who troll America’s highways searching for suitable models to photograph and exterminate. There’s the spider-handling preacher Roy and his crippled virtuoso-guitar-playing sidekick, Theodore, running from the law. And caught in the middle of all this is Arvin Eugene Russell, Willard’s son, who grows up to be a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town teeming with corruption and brutality.

Review: The story is bonkers and a little over the top, it sounds surreal but at the same time it rings true. It’s dark and f’ed but is oddly captivating, with a sublime narration that adds to the atmosphere. The neatly woven narrative unfolds slowly and violently, with relatable moments.

The cast is talented, there’s no doubt about it, but the actors themselves seem off. Not enough to put you off of this movie, however just enough to keep from totally getting lost in the story, to keep some disbelief. Because this film is a collection of bad things happening to people living in the rural American South, where religion and family have a major impact them.

The production value is very strong. The directing and the acting – narration included – does a great job with the atmosphere and context of the story. The story takes its time but it flies by. The Devil all the Time is a somewhat surreal, bleak crime thriller that could a true story.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
Get the book here

The Old Guard | Intro to Immortals 101

I randomly stumbled upon this movie. I mean I was looking another film of Charlize Theron‘s (Atomic Blonde) when The Old Guard came on my radar. It’s not an intellectual property that I’m familiar with but the cast and the premise was enough to put in my “to watch list.”

The movie is based on the comic books “The Old Guard: Force Multipliedby artist Leandro Fernandez and writer Greg Rucka – who’s also the screenwriter here. Helmed by writer director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Cloak & Dagger, Love & Basketball) the movies also stars KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk), one of my favorite actors Matthias Schoenaerts (Suite Française), Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin), Harry Melling (Harry Potter), Luca Marinelli (Trust), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange, 12 Years a Slave).

Premise: A quartet of mercenaries, who are all centuries-old immortals able to heal from any wound, must fight to keep their freedom and identity a secret just as they find another immortal has “awakened.”

Review: The opening scene of The Old Guard gives you a false sense of dread. The titular characters lay dead, and immediately I thought is the end at the beginning? with an eye-roll but it’s not. In fact the first 15 minutes sets up The Old Guard nicely, the next 10 the new one.

It’s obvious that with long lived characters you could explore the emotional turmoil of seeing your loved ones age and die, the wars, the rise and fall of civilizations, the burden of always having to keep that secret from anyone you come across; and all that philosophical aspect of immortality but it’s an action fantasy movie. Not a TED talk on the trials and tribulations of centuries and millennia of existence. I’m not saying that the movie doesn’t touch on these subjects, it does, in flashbacks and exposition dialogues. Meaning it’s not the main focus but there is enough to allow the viewer to ponder those fascinating questions if they want to. Besides one need only to look at the behavior of our quartet to have an inkling of the burden they carry.

The story has shades of greatness but it’s a little predictable. There are not so subtle clues that will help you figure out how The Old Guard came to fighting to keep their freedom and identity a secret. I very much appreciated that they took the time to show us that the new “awakened” immortal was army combatant, that she had skills. She didn’t look out of place of the fight scenes. Speaking of which, the action scenes are good and efficiently paired with the visual effects. It was also refreshing to see a queer couple represented – They didn’t make it a big deal so I’m not going.

The cast does elevates the material, they make the genre tropes work. Theron is such a great actress that she manages to tell so much about Andy when staring at bandages. Melling represented the greed of big pharma well. Schoenaerts, like Kenzari and Marinelli, tells you as much about their characters with or without words. Kiki Layne held her own physically and acting wise, and Ejiorfor was nicely nuanced.

The Old Guard is a good movie that also would have been awesome – if not better – as a four to six part mini-series. It very much feels like a set up, an intro to a saga but all th at said I wasn’t half way through that I already wanted a sequel.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

You can checkout or get comic here

TV Review: Killing Eve (S2) | A Twisted Rom-Com

You might already know, but in case you don’t, Killing Eve is based on the “Killing Eve: No Tomorrow” novella by Luke Jennings. Jodie Comer is a psychopathic assassin Villanelle, with a fascination for women for long dark hair, and Sandra Oh is an intelligence officer eve Polastri, obssesed with female serial killers, tasked to track Villanelle.

Recap: Season one was a cat-and-mouse game between Eve and Villanelle has developped a mutual obsession for each other. Things came to a head when Polastri found Villanelle and stabbed her.

Review: The first season had creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge as head writer, and that has change for season 2. Emerald Fennell is at the helm this time but the transition is seamless as show has kept its identity while allowing for the story to evolve.

Since Killing Eve is sexual tension filled show, albeit subtle, the first series could be perceived as a meet-cute with Polastri and Villanelle chasing each other – in every sense of the word – in a sort of platonic love story. Eventually things go South, and the first half of the second season is that grieving period when everyone is hurting and trying to move on. It even seems like the people who surround the two main characters are actively trying to help them like the archetypes of the best friends in romantic comedies do.

Fate – or the burning desire these two have for one another – seems to have other plans for the pair and they ended up back in each other’s orbit. The obsession and attraction is still there but so are the obstacles. Eve is maried, straight – ish, at the very least – and an intelligence officer – who is suppose to put people like Villanelle behind bars. As for Oksana, Villanelle, she’s a psychopath – I think that’s obstacle enough, oh – and a killer!

The show keeps you guessing throughout, and particularly in the last episode. Villanelle and Polastri are pulled toward each other even though they are not good. Their relationship as much as the greater mystery surrounding them is insteresting but not the focus if the show. Season two holds your attention, it is quite exciting at times but it got a little confusing.

Killing Eve is kind of a divise, and a captivating show. You either like or you don’t, but one thing is true, once you start you get sucked in. The show is totally bingeworthy and in my opinion works better that way.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

TV Review: Killing Eve (S1) | Quirky but interesting

This British spy thriller series by Fleabag Phoebe Waller-Bridge is based on the collection of novellas “Code Villanelle” by Luke Jennings. The series stars Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Jodie Comer (The White Princess), Fiona Shaw (True Blood), and Kim Bodnia (The Letter).

Premise:  It centers around a desk bound British intelligence investigator, obsessed with female serial killers, Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh). She is tasked with capturing a cold-blooded psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer); unbeknownst to Polastri, Villanelle has a fixation for women with luscious dark hair, so as the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession.

Review: I know, that premise is a bit weird, but so is the show. Killing Eve is not the kind of show I would have jumped on immediately, but a few things were in its favor. It’s not a long time commitment – 8 episodes – and it has interesting people attached to the series. I wanted to see Sandra Oh in something other than Grey’s Anatomy, Jodie comer was in two mini-series that were – and still are – on my watch-list (Thirteen, The White Princess), and I had seen and loved Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Crashing – that show is awesome, seriously check it out.

So I delved into the show, a bit bored myself, not expecting much and I was captivated. It’s kind of a slow build, the story held my attention with its quirky characters and dark comedy. There are funny, heart wrenching, and scary moments in the show. A lot of interesting locations throughout Europe. It gets exciting, I felt that thrill of the chase of the agent hunting the serial killer and/or of the pursuit of one’s crush. As killers go Villanelle, is crazy smart, inventive with her kills, and scary.

Villanelle works as a character because she’s brilliantly portrayed by Comer, who’s incredible in the role. She’s not your typical psychopath and she plays that characters with nuance and skill. Sandra Oh, makes a good pair with Comer, she made Polastri interesting and very endearing. You’re rooting for her. The cast in general is amazing, I might just be talking about Oh and Comer but the actors around them are bringing it as well.

Killing Eve Season 1 is good, you might drag your feet getting to it, but once you’re there, you’re glad you came.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Wonder Woman | Review

This character has a lot of things going for it as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always like the idea of the Amazons, a group of badass female warriors, what’s not to like? And whenever I’ve watched a DC animated movie she was often a stand out. As for her portrayal by Gal Gadot, I might have been a bit worried when her casting was announced for two main reasons: one, I’d only ever seen her in sexpot roles so I didn’t know how useful of an actor she would be; the second one, she didn’t seem strong enough, even after pictures of her in costume came out. However I very much liked what they were going for with casting, between Gadot and Jason Momoa it was clear that there was some apt out of box thinking. I also liked what I saw of Gadot in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the trailers.
Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), this movie also stars Chris Pine (Into the Woods), Robin Wright (House of Cards), Danny Huston (The Constant Gardner), David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything), Connie Nielsen (The Following), Lucy Davis (Shaun of the Dead), Elena Anaya (The Infiltrator), and Saïd Taghmaoui (The Kite Runner).

Premise: When a pilot crashes on the secret island of Themyscira and tells the Amazons of the conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Review: This movie is beautiful and classical looking in a way that works well with the superhero genre. The esthetic is there and it’s stunning, from the beaches of Themyscira to the trenches of World War I the cinematography is on point. There are also a lot of references to other movies in Wonder Woman that added to the experience, because whether you realized it or not these were familiar and iconic moments from cinema history mirrored in this movie in a newish none rip-off way. I was surprise at the comedy laced throughout the film. It was racier than I expected and well used.

Gal Gadot is so effortless in the role that it’s impressive, that doesn’t mean that the acting doesn’t falters at time. She’s not trying to be pretty in the film, she just is but that doesn’t take away from her skills. Often in action movies women are either pretty first than somewhat skilled or very Manish but there’s a nice middle ground here. Diana might have the pretty clothes and nice hair but she’s not afraid to get down and dirty. She sold the action. Chris Pine is also amazing in this movie, portraying a great character, and working in tandem with Gadot, which made their banter excellent.

As for the story, it is a little rushed and in need of tightening. The third act isn’t as smooth as the rest. They smartly gave the Amazonians a distinctive accent and esthetic yet I have no clear idea of their history. It was minimal. The same goes for what Diana’s powers are in the film. This could be explained away because Diana herself doesn’t know for sure, but there’s another character, who should at least have similar powers and know what they are but he didn’t seem to know either.
The odd thing about this movie is, as good as it is it has low re-watchability, in my opinion. Like books, I tend to re-watch scenes action or otherwise instead of watching the whole thing. The problem with this movie is that 90% of the film is so tightly woven that watching chunks of it doesn’t really work because the feelings, the pay offs are not the same. To feel the same level of excitement for a scene I like, I’d have to commit to the whole thing.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Trailer | The Legend of Tarzan

Reaction: This trailer reveals a little more of the story – even though we kind of know it already – it’s a little more action packed and entertaining than the first one was. I’m mostly interested because I want to see Skarsgard in this role, I think he’s more talented than he appears to be. I’m a little bit more excited about the film, what about you guys?