Moon Knight: Gods And Monsters

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Moon Knight must stop an undead Egyptian God from coming back to life.

By no means was this a perfect finale, however, I thought on the whole it was a lot better than most of the series and was a step in the right direction.

I liked that we finally got Jake Lockley, played by Oscar Issac, though I thought if they always intended to keep him until the post credits they should have teased him less in the wider series as it gave the impression that we might get him sooner than we actually did. Also I am not quite sure how I feel to the changes made to the character in terms of him speaking Spanish and not being much like the cabbie we remember from the comics, but hey maybe season 2 will address that.

I thought it was cool to see Layla, played by May Calamawy, get her own superpowered suit by becoming a different Gods avatar. I thought she paired nicely with Moon Knight and I liked their final battle action sequence together, even if Mr Knight suddenly just becomes great at fighting for no real reason after being terrible before that point.

One thing I will point to and say I didn’t like is that the defeat of Ethan Hawke’s character happened pretty much off screen, presumably during a Lockley episode, and that the episode as a whole was far shorter than what we got in the rest of the series. If it had such been 10 minutes longer it could have given them more time to properly do justice to everything they set up.

Overall, I think they did bring the series back with the last two episode but even in this final episode there were some noticeable issues that stopped it being perfect.

Pros.

Layla becoming her own superhero

The finale battle worked well and gave us some much needed action

Lockley

The return of Khonsu  

Cons.

It was too short

A few little issues with the plot

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iCarly: iCupid

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Feeling as though she has held back Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, from finding love Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, decides to try and set him up.

I will give this episode praise for calling out several things that needed to be. Firstly it points out how weirdly close Spencer and Carly are and then secondly it has Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, standing up to the women in his life and stop being a doormat who is easily pushed around by other people.

Within the a plot I liked that Spencer and Carly’s relationship was front and centre and that they developed it in a meaningful way, with Carly saying that Spencer was like a father to her. Rachel Bloom as Mckenna the matchmaker was okay, but bordered on the side of annoying, also I thought some of the ideas put forward by her character in the episode as to what constitutes a red flag were problematic and sent a bad message. Labelling being short as a red flag seems inherently discriminatory and is clearly example of heightism.

Within the b plot Freddie had to stand up to his mother, played by Mary Scheer, and his adoptive daughter, played by Jaidyn Triplett, and tell them they don’t get a say in his dating life. I found this to be a very cathartic character moment for Freddie as for a while he has done whatever those around him tell him to do and it is nice to see him asserting himself.

Overall, some good character, only made slightly worse by an annoying matchmaker and some questionable morals.

Pros.

Good character work

Carly acknowledging Spencer as a stand-in father

Freddie finally standing up for himself

Cons.

The heightism

Bloom’s whole character

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Peaky Blinders: A Fundamental Misunderstanding, Perception Vs Reality

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about why I believe the final series of Peaky Blinders was not only a great series in its own right but also how it was a fitting end point for the program,  as well as how some of the criticism on social media seems to lack a fundamental understanding of what the series was as well as the style of its creator.

I watched the most recent series of this show through a number of trips to a friend of mine’s house, we both enjoyed it, but after most of the episodes I would check online and see a lot of negative buzz and hate, with the finale being the only real exception. The criticism would all say base things like ‘oh remember when this was a gangster show’, or ‘when did the show become so boring’. To these complaints I would say you were watching a different show altogether, Peaky Blinders did have gang aspects to it, but the fundamental drive of the series was Thomas Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, as a character and exploring his psyche.  For every street set gun battle, there was a quite conversation done to execute a subtle social twist.

The shows broad themes are a huge reflection of that, with the ideas of the pursuit for power and the supernatural steering the series towards more philosophical fare. Yes, within this drift the series featured a gun battle or two, but I would never say it was just a ‘gangster show’, or even that that was the show’s main focus, some people it seems got far too hung up on these aspects.

To further prove my point one needs only look at the series creator Steven Knight who is known for introspective fare like Locke and Hummingbird, which in the latter’s case does feature some action thriller elements, but is front and centre a drama, as is Locke. Fundamentally, I think many thought of Peaky Blinders simply as a badass action show that gave them a reason to wear a flat cap in real life to try and be a part of it,  when it reality it was always a drama series that featured action elements. In that vein I can’t see how the final series was anything other than a fitting conclusion as it delivered on all aspects of what it was striving to be as a show.  

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Moon Knight: The Asylum

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Steven, played by Oscar Isaac, uncovers his origins, and Marc’s past is revealed as the two battle their way out of the asylum.

I think that this was a strong episode of Moon Knight, not in the regard that we got any more action or at they finally revealed the Jake Lockley persona, but on the emotional character development side of things. I thought in terms of establishing Steven and Marc as characters this episode did a hell of a lot of good work, by highlighting their deeply depressing backstory the show gives us its best look yet at their fractured psyche.

Moreover, I enjoyed the boat set piece and though visually it was very distinct and interesting. When Marc and Steven started fighting off the forces of the undead things got very intriguing especially in a sense of where the supernatural side of the MCU is heading.

My main criticisms of this episode would be that yet again we get very little suited up Moon Knight action, and that despite perhaps the most blatant tease yet we still have not had the Jake Lockley reveal, a move which I now believe Marvel is deliberately doing to troll the fans.

Overall, a lot of great character work and worldbuilding, slightly undercut by a distinct lack of in costume Moon Knight action.

Pros.

The emotional backstory

The boat set piece

The ending

The promise of what is to come

Cons.

The lack of suited Moon Knight once again

Stop teasing Jake Lockley  

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Ambulance: A Return To Form For Michael Bay

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Criminal brother Danny and Will Sharp, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Yaya Abdul-Mateen II, end up hijacking an ambulance after a bank robbery they are involved with goes down the pan.

In many ways I thought this was a return to form for director Michael Bay, it was tense, thought provoking and totally nailed its action/chase scenes. There were a number of times were you could say I was on the edge of my seat, and I thought Bay did a good job of racketing up the stakes, there is a surprising amount of action for a film where most of the characters remain in the titular ambulance for most of the film. I thought the best scene was most likely the cartel attack which brought the crazy manic violence to a whole new level.

I also thought the performances across the board were strong, Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzales both gave great performance and brought a lot to their respective characters, likewise Garret Dillahunt seemed to be having a lot of fun in his role too. The one bad apple in the bunch, however, was Gyllenhaal, that is not to say he gave a bad performance but rather that it was incredibly limited. I don’t believe that this is Gyllenhaal’s fault more so I think the character is written to be very two dimensional and then because of that Gyllenhaal has little to work with.

My main area of criticism would be the pacing, the film is on for way too long and there are  a lot of unnecessary sub-plots that add nothing to the film. For example why did we need to see the marriage counselling session of Keir O’ Donnell’s FBI character? We didn’t. Maybe the film included it for a bit of levity within an otherwise quite dark film, but even in this case it comes off as needless.

Overall, the best film Michael Bay has made in a long while.

Pros.

Abdul-Mateen II

Gonzales

The action and stakes

The ending

Cons.

The pacing

The needless sub-plots  

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The Curse Of Robert: The Horrors Of The Netflix Algorithm

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This is what happens when you trust a Netflix recommendation. A possessed doll film.

As the summary suggests Netflix thought I would like to watch this film so I put it on, and my my it was bad. I will give it credit for being exactly what I was expecting it to be, and also having some quirky B movie esque charm, but that is where my praise for this film ends.

An important point that I think should be noted up front is that I fell asleep whilst watching this film and then had to go back and finish it off, this was not at night dear reader oh no this was late afternoon, such is the film. To say it is boring and generic would be an understatement.

This film was clearly made to cash in on the recent trend of possessed doll films, see Annabelle and its various sequels, but somehow this film managed to screw up even that basic concept. What makes the Annabelle films scary is the demon that is attached to the doll that goes around and kills people, whereas here they forgo that and have the doll randomly come to life and kill people Chucky style but without any of Brad Dourif’s charm.

Overall, a forgettable possessed doll film.

Pros.

It is watchable

It is unintentionally funny at times

Cons.

It is boring

It is generic

It is nothing you haven’t seen before

It feels derivative

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Notions On Toxic Celebrity

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about what I see to be the main failing of celebrity culture, the belief that somehow celebrities are the best of us. I write this piece as it has just come out that allegedly Vin Diesel was difficult and did not behave on the set of Fast X and as such the director has quit the project, as well as when production of Bill Murray’s next movie has stopped as he has allegedly engaged in some troublesome behaviour.  

In my mind celebrities seem to think that because of their fame and wealth that they don’t have to abide by the same norms and laws that apply to everyone else. Matthew Broderick literally killed someone and still gets to appear in movies, after only paying a small fine, how is that right or fair? I believe that it is because they are put on a pedestal that this sort of behaviour is allowed to flourish. By worshipping celebrities we are creating monsters.

An actor or celebrity with a huge ego is nothing new, they are a dime a dozen, however, this is a result of fan worship. If Vin Diesel didn’t have an army of dude bro fans who will like and share his posts and who will mindlessly flock to see whatever subpar action film he is starring in next in might make him question how he treats those around him, as both the Rock and now his director have pointed out that he is difficult.

Social media has certainly become a tool for celebrity worship and to an extent it has also been used as a means to keep celebrities in check, yet as society we need to see that this hasn’t been enough. Despite #MeToo and the grave threat of cancel culture, a little sarcasm there, celebrities are still behaving badly and escaping consequences. This is a problem I can only imagine solved by people putting their money where their mouth is and not watching these actors projects, letting them fade into obscurity, calling them out, not letting them escape problematic behaviour and encouraging others to do the same.

By giving these people fame and money we are telling them their behaviour is okay when it clearly isn’t. Something needs to change.

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iCarly: iHire A New Assistant

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Carly’s grandfather, played by Greg Mullavey, shows up for a visit and becomes Carly’s new assistant.

I think a lot of this new season of iCarly has the same issue, either a really good a story and a terrible b plot or a terrible a story and a good b plot, this episode was no different.

I disliked almost everything about the Grandad Shay character, I thought he was annoying and used to make the same lame predictable jokes you would expect from an old meets young storyline. Moreover, through this introduction Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, becomes even worse as a character- this season really hasn’t been kind. Throughout the a story of this episode Spencer debases himself to try and get his grandfather’s love and then begrudgingly gets it at the end, this could have worked on some level, however, the ending of the episode doesn’t feel earned and instead feels written for convenience.

The saving grace of this episode comes from the Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, and Harper, played by Laci Mosley, side story wherein it seems like Freddie and Harper might be soulmates based on their birth charts. I thought this b plot was genuinely quite funny and the characters worked well within it, I thought that Freddie and Harper made for a good pairing and I would like to see more of them having their own adventures in the coming episodes.

Overall, the b plot manages to stop the episode from being bad and does provide some shielding, however, the whole Grandad Shay narrative was trite and I hope the show does not bring him back again.

Pros.

Freddie and Harper

A few good jokes

Cons.

Grandad Shay

The old man jokes were super obvious and lame

They made Spencer even worse   

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The Fairly Oddparents Fairly Odder: Yikes On Multiple Levels

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Due to Paramount + lacking content the higher ups forced through a hybrid live action version of The Fairly OddParents, and rather unsurprisingly it crashed and burnt horribly.

On multiple levels this show is a mess, so much so that I can’t see how those making it didn’t foresee how it was going to turn out, in my mind since the ideas inception it was clear this was destined for the scrap head. I understand that Butch Hartman has become somewhat of an internet bogeyman and so needs to cling to this franchise to keep the lights on, but come on Butch you’re driving your cash cow over a cliff and to certain death.

I think the biggest issue with this show is that the hybrid approach doesn’t work, in my mind The Fairly OddParents is and always should be an animated show, the previous jumps to live action with the deviant staring films didn’t work so they really should have realised that this was not the way forward. It is not just that the hybrid approach doesn’t work, but whenever there is an animated character on screen the show seems to come apart at the seams and become a hodgepodge of issues.

Moreover, the idea to create a new lead is a bold idea, it doesn’t pay off at all and it ends up feeling like it was only done for the sake of appealing to a younger audience, whilst still being in some way tied into the older show. However, the real issue with this series is the fact that damn near every character is awful, either as a person or as an inferior carbon copy of the original series, some of the characters bare the same name as those from the original series but in no way hold a candle to them. In addition the way young characters are written in this show in terms of dialogue screams to me of a group of aging executives trying to remember buzz words they have heard from their grandkids and force them in. In reality I don’t think anyone ever talks like how they do on this show.

Pros.

Sometimes it is unintentionally funny

Cons.

The characters suck

The animation seems like it was done on the cheap

The hybrid approach doesn’t work

The decision to create a new lead has no effect and changes very little for the better

It defiles the reputation of the brand at every turn   

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The Wicker Man: Nicolas Cage In Bearskin

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A film about bees, bears and Nicolas Cage.

Honestly I was disappointed by this, I went into it expecting a weird Nicolas Cage film that is so bad it is good but instead I was met with a sleepwalker affair riddled with plot holes and lacking any sense of originality.

In some respects this film wants to set itself apart from the original Wicker Man and do its own thing, however, in other cases the film is shot for shot the same as it. This goes beyond homage and just feels like a blatant attempt to copy what worked from the original.

Moreover, something that bothered me about this film was Cage’s characters disappearing gun. So the original film is set in the UK where most police officers don’t carry guns, unless they are armed response, however, in the States it is far more common for police officers to carry guns yet Cage’s character seems to forget this until the last few moments of the film. There are a number of situations in this film wherein I was like surely he will bring out his gun for this, but no. I think this was done to try and amp up the tension in the film, however, if this was the goal then it makes no sense to bring it out for the final showdown.

Furthermore, the bees bit which has featured in so many memes wasn’t actually that good and for the most part Cage’s signature blend of crazy was played down, in my mind much to the film’s detriment. I think if the filmmakers had let Cage go more off the rails the film would have been infinitely better.

Overall, a mid-tier Cage movie that is pretty forgettable

Pros.

A few laughs to be had

It does at times try and do its own thing

The ending

Cons.

The plot holes

It doesn’t go far enough

It is too derivative in places

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