Only Murders In The Building: Flipping The Pieces

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Mabel, played by Selena Gomez, and Theo, played by James Caverly, bond and open up about their pasts.

Many people are hailing this as Gomez’s finest moment on the show, her big emotional back story. Whilst I think Gomez did give a good performance, I thought her delivery left a little to be desired and thought that her facial acting was woefully lacking. Though she is reciting what is supposed to be a painful story from her past her face stays mostly the same throughout, this is not how to act for any one looking to start out.

However, I did find Mabel and Theo to be a good pairing and hopefully we will see more of the two of them together later in the season. Gomez and Caverly have good on-screen chemistry together and are a believable duo. In addition, I thought this episode was actually better for featuring Steve Martin and Martin Short less, the two of them are becoming very one note this season and by focusing this episode mainly around Mabel it helps it to stay fresh.

I think the idea of the blackout leaves the episode off on an interesting place, I would much prefer if we knew that this show was heading into its final episode this season but as there are still two more episodes after the next one we know they are just going to keep dragging this out.

Overall, better for giving Mabel a bigger focus

Pros.

Mabel and Theo make a good pair

Mabel’s backstory

The ending tease

Cons.

They are still stretching out a paper thin mystery

Gomez’s performance leaves something to be desired  

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Sideworld,Terrors Of The Sea: What Waits For Us At The Bottom Of The Ocean

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This film explores the dark and sinister side to our oceans.

I have long thought that there is something quite gothic and mysterious about the sea and I know I am not alone in that belief. I often say to people how crazy it is that we have barely scratched the surface with ocean exploration and cannot fully comprehend what may be waiting for us at the very bottom of the sea, in the areas where there is no light.

In that vein this film really captures in essence the foreboding nature of the sea, coming off often as more curious and mysterious than outrightly scary. I think it is in that regard that this Sideworld film differs from the last, it is less scary. I don’t know if this is by design, but certainly I found this to be different in tone and intent than the last film.

In terms of the sea stories, it was a good smattering of different things from ghost ships to sea monsters. None of it will be things you have never heard before, but thanks to the narrators fantastic delivery it still manages to feel captivating and intriguing until the final frame. I think the sea monster section was probably my favourite.

Overall, if spooks and creepy stories to listen to as the nights slowly darken again are your kind of thing then you will be doing yourself a disservice not to check this out.

Pros.

It truly captures the mystery of the sea

It is intriguing

It has a good mixture of tales

The sound work is incredibly strong and really does both set the sense and create a fantastic atmosphere.  

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Only Murders In The Building: Performance Review

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

People from Mabel’s past come out of the woodwork to accuse her of past misdeeds and the world of Only Murders In The Building is further explored and built upon.

Frankly again I am slipping back into struggling to care for this season which is sad as the last couple of episodes seemed to be heading in an interesting direction. I think the big issue here is the same it has been throughout this second season, in that the mystery itself is paper thin and then the show is trying to stretch it out for as long as possible stuffing it full of needless side lots in order to try and keep people engaged. It is so blatant it might as well be written in neon.

I think the Mabel, played by Selena Gomez, heartbreak subplot was at least well-acted even if it was not needed. I do think that Gomez often has to do a lot of the heavy lifting for this show in a dramatic sense and luckily for the show she can hold her own in this regard.

To be perfectly upfront with you dear reader I am struggling to finish this season or to find any excitement for new episodes, to be of service to you I will stick it out until the end of the season but I won’t be coming back for the next season.

Overall, this season is being dragged out and dragged out beyond any semblance of a good show.

Pros.

Gomez

It is watchable

It was nice to Charles’ sort of daughter return

Cons.

It is getting long in the tooth

Too many subplots

Awful pacing

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Under The Banner Of Heaven: True Detective This Is Not

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A murder in small town America, how fresh.

I know this series has got a lot of good reviews from other people and outlets but honestly I found this tedious to get through.

I think my issues with this show come from a mixture of the fact that each episode felt about 20 minutes too long and that I am incredibly checked out of the whole small town America murder plot and feel it has been done to death. Maybe it is because I am not American but to me this series just felt like many other crime shows and the plot was so generic that it could not keep me interested.

I think Andrew Garfield is one of the best actors working today but even he couldn’t prop this show up. Moreover, I would daresay that I think Garfield may have been miscast as his boyish looks didn’t really fit the kind of character he was playing.

Overall, this felt incredibly samey to me and didn’t have the right lead to keep me engaged throughout. By the midpoint of the series I really was just trying to finish it so I could give a complete review, I was otherwise checked out.

Pros.

Garfield is trying his best

It is well shot

Cons.

Garfield is miscast

It is badly paced

The mystery feels incredibly generic and samey

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Only Murders In The Building:The Tell

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The trio continue on their hunt for the murderer, which leads to a very tense game of Son of Sam.

I think this episode continued to build on the positive momentum of the last and actually does go to some interesting places. I am not saying that this is a perfect episode or anywhere near the same level as the first series, but it is a hell of a lot better than the earlier episode of this current season.

In large part the improvement here can be placed on two keys scenes and performances. Firstly, the Son of Sam scene is very good as it transports everyone back in time and gives them period attire, moreover, Charles, played by Steve Martin, and Oliver, played by Martin Short, go after Alice, played by Cara Delevingne, suspecting her to be the murderer not just for the game but for the wider mystery of the series. Delevingne gives her best performance yet during this scene, possibly the best of her career, and she really falls into the character. Secondly, the other strong scene here is the one in which Charles talks to Jan, played by Amy Ryan, on the phone. During this conversation the two have such strong chemistry that it becomes palpably hard to look away from. Hopefully we will get more Charles and Jan throughout the remainder of this season.

My major issue of this episode is the final twist in which Oliver learns he might not actually be his son’s biological father. To me this just feels like more needless drama that doesn’t really serve the story but instead acts as filler to pad for time, In addition as far as twists go this one feels quite cheap and manipulative.

Overall, the second season seems to be trending upwards after a shaky start.

Pros.

Charles and Jan

Delevingne

The mystery is getting better

Good costume work

Cons.

The ending

The pacing is still far too slow

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Only Murders In The Building: Here’s Looking At You

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Charles’ sort of step daughter, played by Zoe Colletti, arrives and adds some further layers to the mystery.

I will give this episode props it was certainly better than the last and it did, to a small degree, get me interested in the murder mystery again. I think adding in Colletti’s character helped to give the episode a new perspective and helped things to feel a little bit fresher than they had previously been. It will be a huge shame if the character doesn’t return.

Likewise I thought the return of Teddy Dimas, played by Nathan Lane, was also quite welcome as it presented the group both with a threat, something they have been sorely lacking this season, as well as with the consequences of their actions. I thought both brought new dimensions to what in my mind is a struggling second season.

Despite my praise so far it is by no means a perfect episode and there is a lot of filler on display here to pad out the runtime. Moreover, I remain resolute in my belief that the central trio seem to have lost most of, if not all, of the charm they had last season and come across more as angry passive aggressive jerks a lot of the time.

Overall, better than last week’s episode but still far from the previous season.

Pros.

Returning faces

New characters

It livens up the mystery a bit more

Cons.

The central trio still feel unlikeable

Filler   

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Only Murders In The Building: The Last Day Of Bunny Folger

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The last day in the life of Bunny, played by Jayne Houdyshell.

Honestly I am not really digging this season of Only Murders In The Building, and I think that it is just being stretched out for the sake of stuff to put on Disney +. As I have said in earlier reviews the mystery this time around is not particularly interesting and unlike with the first season you don’t care about what is going on. To be frank I could stop watching this show right here and not miss it at all.

However, something that I will give this episode credit for is that it at least takes a chance and tries to do something new. Rather than focus on the central trio we get to see a day in the life of a fairly important side character, and not many shows would dedicate a whole episode to a supporting character in this way so that was pretty cool as it helped to flesh out the wider world of the show.

Although through this focus on another character this episode highlights our central trio in a less than stellar light. I do understand that the point of this episode’s shifted perspective is to reframe things, but it does this a little too well and clearly illustrates all the worst traits of our lead characters and makes them unlikeable. The charm of the show is really gone after this episode.

Overall, I might stop watching as I don’t want to continue watching a once promising show continue to drag itself through the mud.

Pros.

Be brave enough to focus on a smaller character

It is watchable

It makes you care more about Bunny

Cons.

It is fairly dull

The mystery doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere

The leads are unlikeable  

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Flight Attendant Season Two: An Eight Episode AA Meeting

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The plot this time around sees Cassie, played by Kaley Cuoco, seemingly being framed for murder whilst also having to work through her alcoholism.

I enjoyed this season slightly less than the first, and though I do think there is still a reason for this show to exist and that the second season is not totally unnecessary, I do think that the show can do with improving if it is going to go onto a third season.

I liked that Max and Annie, played by Zosia Mamet and Deniz Akdeniz, were given far bigger roles and I thought it was a good idea to even give them their own side stories as well, it really helped to strengthen some of the weaker moments and to add some much needed comedic relief.  

The darker tone and the more intense focus on Cassie’s alcoholism is an issue for the show as far as I am concerned as though it is for the most part good character work it does become a bit too bleak and hard to watch at times, and last I checked this was a comedy drama series. My issue is that this season spent a lot of time focusing on these sad elements and that made it less enjoyable to watch.

Overall, the darker tone and deep dive into Cassie’s alcoholism makes this show hard to watch at times and makes you question whether it is still fun to watch, however, there is still enough good elements to keep you around.

Pros.
Mamet and Akdeniz

An engaging mystery

Fun to be had

The ending

Cons.

It is bleak and hard to watch at times

They give the alcoholism stuff far too much focus

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The Afterparty: Everyone Hates High School Reunions

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A high school reunion takes a turn for the macabre as one of the attendees is found dead.

I thought this was a great series, one of the best I have seen in a while. It totally nails most of what it is going for and delivers laughs, shocks and sweet moments fairly on the regular.

I enjoyed the format and thought the idea of having each person’s story be told through a different genre formatting was a really interesting idea that let the show play around with a lot, it also helped keep the show feeling fresh.

I thought the whole cast was strong and each had their own moment to shine over the course of the series. It really is a testament to what a talented and committed cast can achieve. Moreover, this series also features Jamie Demetriou which as a fan of Stath Lets Flats is a big win for me: I thought his character of Walt was frequently a scene stealer.

I thought the mystery as a whole was well done and thought out as it proved my predictions for who the killer was to be inaccurate and surprised me with its reveal, which again is a tick for me.

Overall, one of the best shows on Apple TV for sure.

Pros.

It is funny

It has a good mystery

The cast are all really good

It plays around with different genres and formats

Demetriou

Cons.

Whilst the wrap up reveal was good it felt a little convenient in places.

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The Village: The Beginning Of The End For M. Night Shyamalan

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A township of people exist in fear of the creatures that live in the woods just outside of town.

Prior to watching I had heard very mixed things about this film, and after watching it I can say I am mixed. Do I think this film marks the start of Shyamalan’s journey into hackdom, with a brief moment of hope with Split? Yes, I would say so, all the elements that would come to form the basis of bad Shyamalan are present here, though it is not as egregious as it would get with his later works.

I think there are some good elements here, the premise is interesting and the world building is strong, couple this with good performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard and William Hurt and you can see the film has a lot going for it.

However, where everything is undercut is with the twist. I would say this is the first time in early Shyamalan’s work where the twist feels both needless, but also entirely predictable. The reveal that the elders were behind the monsters all along as a means to keep the town isolated from the rest of the world feels incredibly obvious from the early stages of the film. Moreover, though the climax of the film teases us with the outside world it then promptly does nothing with it and basically ignores it, which feels like a huge missed opportunity.

Overall, this film feels like a midway point in Shyamalan’s career, situated between past glories and future disappointments.

Pros.

The performances

The world building

The premise

Cons.

The twist

The ending  

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