The Bad Batch: Reunion

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This episode finally brought back Crosshair. Finally.

I thought this was easily the best of the recent batch of Bad Batch episodes, we finally got the tense standoff between the inhibitor chip free clones and the possessed evil Crosshair that the series has been building towards. Luckily for all, this confrontation feels meaty and well-paced, neither can truly best the other and both sides are hurt. The only way I think this could have been made better is if Crosshair killed one of the Bad Batch or at least gravely wounded them, this would have added to the impact of the episode.

I thought the re-emergence of Cad Bane was both a pro and a con to the episode. It is a pro in that the character is cool and it is nice to see him return and carry on his storyline, but at the same time it is a con as it feels very random and there was little to no build up to him returning. With him taking Omega at the end of the episode I hope she stays out of commission for a while so the Bad Batch can properly deal with their defeat and really rally to the cause.

Overall, a high point for the series so far I can only hope the next lot of episodes keep the same pace and tone.

Pros.

Finally bringing back Crosshair in a meaningful way

The tense cat and mouse elements

The action

The ending

Cons.

Cad Bane’s return feels a little random and unplanned  

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iCarly: iGotYourBack

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This episode did what I have been saying for a while the series needed to do and that is to feel more human. This show seems to exist to do one purpose and that is to mock the modern internet/influencer landscape, which is fine, but the show also runs the risk of becoming just as bad and as vapid especially in a lot of the moral teachings of the show. However, this alarming trend is somewhat postponed here as this episode moves away from all that and instead focuses on the lives and friendships of the characters.

Spencer and Freddy have an arc about Freddy getting back into the dating saddle, and Carly and Harper have a storyline about Carly needing a new dress and Harper trying to design one for her. Both story threads are not perfect, but they do at least produce warm moments to make us like these characters a bit more. I still think far and away Jerry Trainor’s Spencer is the best character on the show, and he is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, often having to make up for the growing unlikability of Carly.

I thought the jokes about Spencer hiring Freddy a prostitute unknowingly were a little juvenile, and though it does produce one or two funny moments by and large it left me cold. Laci Mosley’s Harper was by far the comedic standout of the episode and is at times overshadowing Carly herself.   

Overall, better but still plagued by issues.

Pros.

A more human approach

A few funny moments

Spencer and Harper

Cons.

Carly is incredibly self-involved and is becoming everything the show is mocking

The humour is quite juvenile

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Piercing: A Love Story Where The Leads Try To Kill Each Other

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This is a darkly comedic horror masterpiece. This film is so awkward and tense I love it, it made me laugh quite a few times.

I think both Christopher Abbott and Mia Wasikowska are simply excellent here. Abbott is really proving himself as someone to watch out for. I enjoyed how the story played with the characters never letting one get the upper hand on the other, or at least not for very long.

The basic premise is Abbott’s character is a family man who starts having urges to kill so rather than murder his family, he rents a room at a hotel with the idea of luring a prostitute, Wasikowska, up there to kill her. The beauty of this premise is that though simple it is executed so cleverly that it becomes easily engrossing.  

I thought the ending was strong as it leaves the idea of murder ambiguous, we don’t know whether one of the two killed the other or whether they ended up falling in love. Moreover, I thought the use of violence throughout the film but particularly here at the end feels well done, it is as painful to witness as it would be to experience it is very graphic and visceral allowing it to pack a punch even when used sparingly.

Overall, one of the tensest films I’ve seen recently but also hilariously funny at times.

Pros.

Abbott

Wasikowska
The ending   

The impactful violence

The humour

Cons.

A slow start

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Batman The Long Halloween: Falling Back In Love With Batman

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I have been less than impressed with the last few DC animated offerings I have watched; however this film bucks that trend and is not only fun to watch, but also reminds me why I fell in love with the Batman world and mythos in the first place.

This is one of the few times when I have not red the source material before heading into a direct adaption of a comic like this, so I can’t say how faithfully it sticks to the original book. What I can say is that after watching this film it makes me want to read the comic and find out more about this story.

I found the mystery and plot to be engaging and interesting throughout. I enjoyed watching Batman try and figure out the mystery of the holiday killer, and I thought that it was fascinating to see this through the lens of a Batman who has not yet become the World’s Greatest Detective. I think this intrigue has been what a lot of recent DC animated films have been sorely lacking.

Moreover, I was pleased to see how many villains made an appearance here, and though there are quite a few the film does not feel overcrowded, rather each are given there moment to shine and then are quickly replaced with another threat.

Overall, a fun ride that reminded me why I care about Batman as a character.

Pros.

The plot and the intrigue

Batman and Catwoman

Joker

The tension

Cons.

A bit of a slow start

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Fast 9: Hobbs And Shaw Did It Better

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Buckle up, this is going to be a long one.

Before we get into the main review I just want to say that the actions of John Cena in the press tour for this film immediately make me like both him and this film less. For those that don’t know Cena said that Taiwan was a country, which it is, and then later retracted this and apologised to the Chinese market, more likely the Chinese government in Mandarin in perhaps the most grovelly way possible. Cena and the film itself lose a lot of respect from me for doing this.

My feelings on this film as a whole are deeply mixed. In truth I just don’t see why this franchise is around anymore it has lived long enough to jump the shark several times over by now and is certainly not getting better. This film feels particularly desperate as it brings back as many characters as it can in an effort to try and renew interest in the series, yet this seems an impossible task. Events like the return of Han would have had a bigger impact if it didn’t entirely destroy the lore of the series, but hey that’s overthinking it.

Another thing I want to draw attention to is the presence of the male gaze in these films. I understand these films are aimed at teenage boys, but the amount of butt and up the leg shots in this film is ridiculous. The film feels like it is trying to have its cake and eat it too by appealing to this teen audience in a pervy way, whilst also pushing home the strong independent women angle: the message is jarring and frankly more than a little insincere.

Honestly I don’t see where the series has to go from here, they literally go to space in this film there isn’t any way they can top that, unless the characters become superheroes as this film flirts with. Moreover, Charlize Theron’s Cypher was not a good villain in the last film so to see her brought back here, and then be implied to be coming back for the next film is infuriating as her character is ridiculously weak. Looks like the series will be going out with a whimper rather than a bang.

My only real enjoyment of this film came from laughing at how dumb it was, both intentionally and unintentionally. The real issue is that of the remaining cast few have the chemistry of a Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham, and instead it is just Vin Diesel’s ego laid bare for around two and a half hours.

Overall, it is more of the same, yet the charm of the series is starting to wear out.

Pros.

The dumb fun

It is hilarious

Cons.

It doesn’t justify its existence

The male gaze

Far too many flash backs

It is on for way too long

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The Sixth Sense: I See Bruce Willis When He Actually Used To Care About Acting

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I feel like I would have enjoyed this film a lot more had I not known the twist going into it; sadly in the age of the internet that is near impossible.

My main takeaway from the film was that it was nice to see Bruce Willis actually trying to give a good performance, rather than just turning up to get paid. I would probably say Willis and his performance is the best part of the film, and you do become emotionally invested in the character as the film progresses.

However, I can’t say the same for the other lead character, Cole played by Haley Joel Osment. Now I won’t rip into the character too much as he is played by a child actor and they are usually not great, but I think the issues with Cole permeate beyond his acting and instead originate from the script. The writing of Cole as a character almost seems like it is going out of its way to make you dislike him.

The twist, which is always the most important part of a Shyamalan film, is good. Despite knowing what it was already which took away some of my enjoyment and makes me question the film’s rewatchability, I found it to be well done and quite clever.

Overall, good but far from a classic.

Pros.

Bruce Willis

A few good scares

The twist enhances the film

Cons.
Cole

It is poorly paced   

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iCarly: iFauxpologize

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This episode is of a very similar quality to the one before it, my concerns for this series are reinforced.

My main issue with this and the previous episode is Carly herself and her characterisation. She is portrayed as being deeply self-involved and almost unfeeling to anyone else: using them to boost herself and whatever she is doing. This continues here as she becomes the subject of an internet meme, however, said meme has a negative effect on her brother’s art exhibit. Carly doesn’t seem to hugely care about this until it affects her. I can only hope that this a surprisingly accurate meta commentary on influencers, and not what creatives think makes for a likeable character.

However, I did enjoy seeing the show call Carly out for this behaviour and thought Spencer’s hellish art exhibit going after Carly and online culture to be not only funny but accurate. Moreover, I like how the show then uses this as an example to lampoon cancel culture, which is really the main subject of the episode.

I think the series meta commentary is very much on point and well done, however the series can’t just rely on this for its humour and needs the characters to also have warm moments so that you still care enough about them to keep watching.

I didn’t find this episode as funny as I had the previous two, but it did make me smile several times. I thought the show referencing the ‘interesting’ meme was suitably amusing though I am glad they did not linger on it for too long.

Overall, this show needs to balance its broader lampooning of internet culture with likeable character moments sooner rather than later otherwise people will turn off.

Pros.

The jokes about cancel culture

Spenser’s art exhibit

Bringing back the ‘interesting’ meme

Cons.

Carly is still unlikeable

The meta commentary is starting to feel gimmicky  

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The Power: Seventies London Has Never Been This Depressing Before On Screen

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Boy for this one you better have a hundred videos of kittens and puppies playing happily loaded up on your phone to fend off the dark thoughts, yes it is that depressing. My main criticism of this film is that I would not call it scary rather unpleasant and possibly distressing.

There are a number of scenes that feel suitably tense and that take you on a nice little ride, however, they are preceded by and followed by pointless scenes that go on and on forever- pacing issues a plenty.

I felt the acting was equally a mixed bag, some of the actors were giving strong memorable performances, whereas others just felt like they were playing themselves just in Seventies period clothing.

The ending of the film was perhaps the most contentious part of the film for me.  The film heavily invests in one storyline, going out of its way to make you think that is the answer to the wider mystery, however, this is abandoned about twenty minutes from the end when something entirely out of left field happens. Again I am mixed on this because on the one hand it is a perfect use of a red herring, however, the actual ending doesn’t feel set up in any way therefore making it incredibly weak as a twist.

Overall, a very mixed bag that has more promise than issues just about.

Pros.

The lead performance

A few tense scenes

Good use of lighting and darkness

Cons.

A very slow start

The ending feels very abrupt

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Rick and Morty: Mort Dinner Rick Andre

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This will be my first Rick and Morty review, I have been a fan for a long time and I thought that I would start covering it on here so I could share my passion.

I was very mixed on season four of Rick and Morty it had a few hits but by a large it wasn’t of the same consistent quality as the previous season. However, if this first episode is anything to go by season five might be bringing the show back to its previous glory.

My favourite part of this episode was the evolving story of Morty and the wine. In an effort to age the wine for his dinner guest Rick sends the wine into another dimension wherein time moves differently whereby a few minutes to us is centuries to the inhabitants. Moreover, Morty is tasked with entering this dimension over and over again to get more wine, each time doing so managing to hurt someone or destroy something, thereby becoming basically the devil of their reality. What I enjoyed about this is the escalation, each time Morty goes back the people of the other dimension have evolved to defeat him, I think the idea is quite interesting and is used in a way that is both visually impressive and also funny.

Moreover, I like seeing Morty and his long time crush Jessica finally acting on their feelings for each other. Sadly it doesn’t pan out and the can is kicked further down the proverbial road. This would be my only downside of the episode, I would have liked to see Morty and Jessica finally get together and then have the two of them adventuring with Rick and seeing how that changed the dynamic. Wishful thinking for now.

I think the Rick story involving the arrival of his nemesis Mr Nimbus was the weakest part of the episode. Until the closing moments this story did nothing for me at all, it felt very random and slapdash, and I feel it could have been better done if Mr Nimbus had at least been mentioned before in the show. However, I did like the emotional pay off of this storyline, when Mr Nimbus ends up saving Rick, Jessica and Morty at the end of the episode: I thought the emotional growth of Rick as a character in this moment felt earned and mature. I would like to see Mr Nimbus return in the future, if only to further explore his relationship with Rick.

Overall, a very strong start to the season let’s hope it keeps up this level of quality

Pros.

The building of dramatic tension

Morty and Jessica

The emotional growth for Rick

Beth and Jerry have a funny bit

Cons.

Until the end the Mr Nimbus storyline is a dud.

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iCarly: iHate Carly

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

So by popular demand I will now be covering the new iCarly revival weekly. I thought this episode was nowhere near as strong as the first episode in a lot of ways, the cracks are starting to show.

Cosgrove and Trainor are still a delight, but the humour is getting weaker and weaker. I said in my previous review that the laugh track was not helping the show, and this only gets worse here. Characters will simply say a word and the canned laughter will be used- they aren’t even trying to be funny most of the time.

Moreover, the message of the episode was flawed. Carly forgives and eventually starts dating a guy that used to cyber bully her, but it is okay because he has reformed and is now a nice person: that on its own would be a fine episode arc. However, where it gets troublesome is that Carly forgives him for his troll-like origins, but then says he gives her ‘the ich’ when he starts doing spoken word poetry- really.

I think in this episode the writing for Carly is slightly off as you don’t really warm to her, she seems self-righteous and judgemental and worst of all deeply self-involved, which starts to make her a character you want to avoid. Personally I found the Spencer side story much better and more enjoyable.

Overall, Carly is heading down a path towards unlikability, I hope the show veers away from this.

Pros.

The Spencer side story

A few good jokes

The side characters

Cons.

The concept of ‘the ich’

The ending of the episode    

Pros.

The action

The cinematography

Cons.

The dead zombie baby

The runtime and staggering pacing issues

It is repetitive

None of the characters are allowed to be interesting

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