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

TV Review: Netflix’s Dracula (Mini-series)

Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who) this newest adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula stars danish actor Claes Bang in the titular role.

Premise: In 1987 Transylvania, the blood-drinking Count draws his plans against Victorian London.

Review: The beginning of the show is intriguing, finding Mr. Harker in the state that he is in, having written the story the pilot is depicting, shrouds the episode and the show in mystery.

The subtlety of the pilot episode is one of the striking things about the show. From Dracula’s swift reaction to the mirror, he has no mirrors in his castle but what’s happening to him and Mr. Harker mirror each other or I should say counter balance each other? To the way his accent as well as his physical appearance changes. What he learns and how he learns it is subtle, you get it before you’re told. Same goes for the way vampires are killed, it is shown and very much implied without being explained.

Members of the cast are introduced in the same fashion, with subtlety, their importance or reason to be there is not always apparent from the get go. That does not exclude Count Dracula himself, who we first meet in a particular state. Mina Murray’s introduction was brilliantly done, the tone of her letter made her immediately lovable, and the Easter eggs were a nice touch. Sister Agatha is not what you’d expect but the mystery surrounding her makes for an even more interesting character. The same could be said for most of the main characters in each episode, they serve a purpose to a character or the story itself.

There is a timeless feel to the show that is reflected in the casting and the aesthetic of the show that is reminiscent of previous versions of the Bram Stoker’s Dracula adaptations. That remains true throughout the series.

Faith and sexuality permeates the show while not over-saturating it, like most things in the show it’s mostly subtle at first. Both of these elements are source of great comedy and commentary. The idea that a woman cannot be trusted alone with a man, they need to be chaperoned reflects the time period and is also mocked. Or the fact that the presence of the devil could restaure one’s faith is a great comedic moment but also a great commentary on the characters involved. Nudity and sexual attractions is shown or alluded freely throughout the show, there’s nothing shocking about it, it makes sense.

Dracula is mysterious, intriguing, gory but does not take itself as seriously as I thought it would. It is a funny show with so many quotable lines, amazing double entendras, a touch creepy, but as good as the show gets, the last part is quite a curve ball that can destabilize the viewer. It comes as a new beginning that is not particularly welcomed and might sour the experience for some.

TV Review: His Dark Materials (S1) | Deft and Skill in Book Adaptation

In 2007 I know watched The Golden Compass with Dakota Blue Richads (Skins), Nicole Kidman (Paddington, Railway, Sleep) & Daniel Craig (Spectre) – who in my mind was Hugh Jackman. I remember liking the film enough but at the same time I knew that there wouldn’t be a sequel.
This time around Enola Holmes‘ screenwriter Jack Thorne took Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materialtrilogy and turned into a series that seems to have spared no expanse to bring this colorful world to the screens. The first season is for as far as I’ve read the book – in both of my attempts – is an adaptation of The Golden Compass or Notherns Lights.”
The main cast of the show is huge and include many young and veteran actors. Logan‘s X-23 Dafne Keen stars alongside Kit Connor (Ready Player One), Ruth Wilson (Luther, Jane Eyre, Suite Française), James McAvoy (It, X-Men First Class), Lewin Lloyd (The Aeronauts, Judy), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Marry Poppins Return), Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme), Anne-Marie Duff (Sex Education, Sleep), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain, The Borgias), Ariyon Bakare (Good Omens), Andrew Scott (Spectre, Sherlock, Fleabag), and Amir Wilson (The Letter for the King) to name a few.

Premise: In a world where all humans have animal companions called dæmons, which are manifestations of the human soul. A young girl, named Lyra, an orphan living with the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford, is destined to liberate her world from the grip of the Magisterium which represses people’s ties to magic and their animal spirits.

Review: The visuals are the first thing that anyone would notice watching this show, they are incredible. The sets and costumes are amazing, and the daemons in particular are very well realized. Even if the visual effects are not always perfect, these little imperfections give character, a visual identity to the show.

For someone who’s read the first book up to a point, the show has adapted it in an uncanny way. Both of my attempts at reading book one petered out around a quarter of the way through, which is the first two or three episodes. And yet I still recognized the first quarter of the world described in the book. Where I was interested but not enthralled with the book, I was captivated with the show. The world building is as rich – and a little confusing – as it is in the book but some of the inherent visual aspects of the story are on full display here and it helps. There’s a lot of background on the characters and Lyra’s world to cover but it’s done with deft and skill.
The mystery surrounding Lyra and her destiny, unfurls throughout the show as we learn more about her parents, the Gyptians, and the Magisterium. The story is given the space to breathe and grow without slowing or clogging up the show. They keep things interesting. There’s a whole aspect to the story that obviously came as a surprise to me, that said there were moments I could tell were not in the books and yet meshed with the spirit of it and served the story brilliantly. As exciting, tense, and adventurous the series gets, there are a few pacing issues that required my patience but in the end I was rewarded

The world building and its visuals may be stunning and help in captivating the viewers but the cast is not lagging behind. Whether it is with voice-over acting or on screen, the actors were great. I was amazed by how well the younger ones held their own and further impressed by the seasoned actors who made these characters real. Ruth Wilson is a scary b!%[$ but so delicious to watch, the same goes for Ariyon Bakare. The whle cast is A1.

His Dark Material first season is a great high fantasy with a deeper meaning under all those pretty visuals and good acting. And shout out to the VFX team who animated the Golden Monkey – he had range lol – so did all the daemons and bears.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

If you’re interested in the source material, it would be a huge help if you get it from the link below:

Victor Frankenstein | Trailer

Review: I didn’t need much to get interested in this movie, the cast was enough, but the trailer was a surprise for me. I expected the movie to be very dramatic and mellow but it looks fun, thrilling with elements of horror in it. It could have been a good summer blockbuster. The movie seems a lot better than what I expected. I’m excited to see it.

Spectre | Trailer 2

Reation: Wouah, I was blown away by the trailer. The movie looks amazing, there’s a lot of action and a dash of mystery in the trailer alone. The action scenes look impressive and

great. The trailer doesn’t give too much away about the storyline. It looks action pack and dramatic, I can’t wait to see it, what about you?

The Imitation Game | Smart storytelling for a compelling story

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Directed by Morten Tyldum, based on Mathematician Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Matthew Beard, Allen Leech & Alex Lawther. The Imitation Game is the biopic on Alan Mathison Turing.

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Premise: Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

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Review: It took me a couple days after watching the film to start writing this review. I didn’t know why it took me so long but since I generally don’t rush these things it didn’t worry me. Writing a review I always try to be original, use my own words, share my own opinion, and try to make memorable with a couple of paragraphs. The Imitation Game is an interesting film with a great cast and brilliant performances but I’ll get into that later. 

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Watching the film the narrative jumped out at me and I couldn’t pin point why. It starts off with the declaration of war and progressively goes back and forth from 1945 to the 1950s with little flashbacks on Alan Turing’s boyhood peppering the narrative. No matter the time periods the constant in all this is Turing, it is his story after all. I guess, I didn’t understand why the story was told that way. I mean it’s a compelling story, so to me the flash-forwards to the 1950s – his post WWII life

– are almost obsolete. The boyhood aspect of the flashbacks were important and interesting because they helped understand how complex Alan Turing was and gave him depth, as for the flash-forwards I had no clue. 

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Of course, the movie would have felt a bit boring without the flash-forwards but it wouldn’t have hurt it. Then it occurred to me that without them the British Government looks seriously bad. The man saved 14 Millions of lives – like they’ve reminded us in the film – but they still prosecuted him for consensual homosexual sex, sorry I meant “public indecency”. I am baffled by this, I am no LGBT activist but injustice still rattles me. Maybe more so because if this war Hero’s “kink” was little girls, I get the sense that he, somehow, would have eluded prosecution. And that investigator, who looks consumed by shame and guilt, once he realized what he’s done, does not shake my belief that things would have gone differently for Turing if it was anything other than homosexuality. I may have gotten too far with this but you get my point.

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As for the movie, it has all the cultural aspects of this era, by which I mean misogyny and homophobia,  no seriously it’s also funny, riddled with humor like most British movies are and it is because of Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Turing. The loner, introverted, socially awkward genius makes for comedy gold. Turing’s interactions with people around him and their reactions to his “uniqueness” made me laugh throughout the film. This might sound like Sherlock, also brilliantly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, but I did not once felt like he was playing the same character although, I’ll admit that the two are alike. Which brings me to the immense talent that Cumberbatch showed in The Imitation Game, he not only portrayed a similar character to the one that internationally brought him to stardom but he did it with enough flair and finesse to give Alan Turing a voice and singularity. 

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Unlike some biopic about great men, the supporting cast in The Imitation Game was strong and memorable, they all had their moments that gave them layers and also elevated the film. Among those people, is Keira Knightley, someone who I had lost hope a long time ago, she showed skills and cunning in this movie for a character that easily could have felt flat and forgettable. She’s borderline fag hag but with a good script and some acting skills she did well. The same skills – why do I feel like it’s an insult to them? – are shown by the talented Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard & of course Alex Lawther. 

Morten Tyldum delivered a culturally relevant, fun dramatic film. This man knows how to get you emotionally involved and takes you smoothly through one of the great injustice of our time.

So, what did you think?