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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Death On The Nile: Cancel The Gal Gadot Cleopatra Film Right Now

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, is back and this time he is trying to solve a murder that takes place on a steamboat.

To address the elephant in the room first, obviously it is unfortunate that this film features alleged cannibal sexual predator Armie Harmer in such a large role, but it is what it is and they filmed it before the allegations came to light so for the most part I just tried to ignore it.

This was a mixed bag of a film. To the film’s strength it boasts a terrific performance from director/ star Branagh who really taps into the emotion of the character and gives us a peak behind the curtain in a way the first film never did, the latter stages of the film really highlight this. Moreover, newcomer Emma Mackey is also terrific and steals a lot of the scenes she appears in.

However, to its detriment the pacing is awful and it feels like the film has been on for hours before the plot-forwarding murder even happens. This is a result of the first act dragging horribly, it is also wildly inaccurate to the time period with music and dancing that belongs in a different era entirely, Branagh seems to be growing bored with the period setting here.

Worse yet, the film features some incredibly on the nose product placement for Tiffanies, perhaps on the same level as Crispy Kreme in the Power Rangers film everyone has forgotten about now.

The worst thing about this film is Gal Gadot. I have defended Gadot against a lot of in my opinion unfair criticism, I think she makes a fine Wonder Woman, however here her serious lack of acting chops really shows, as she is unable to do any accent other than her own, or emote, basic stuff. When she is finally removed from play, midway into the film, you are grateful as she was quite clearly miscast.

Overall, a fun if flawed second film.

Pros.

Branagh as Poirot

Mackey

The mystery

Cons.

The pacing made worse by the awful first act

Gadot    

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Nightmare Alley: Not Even Willem Dafoe Can Save This

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A man with a dark past, played by Bradley Cooper, joins a traveling circus and tries to make it big as a mentalist.

What happened here? Coming off Crimson Peak and The Shape Of Water two very strong del Toro films he makes this. That is not to say this film is bad just very average. I have seen this film being talked about under the notion of awards contention and frankly it couldn’t be further away from deserving that.

The film is self-indulgent to a tee and goes on for far, far too long. There are moments of promise throughout the film, but they are quickly undone by all the mediocrity that fills out the rest of the runtime. An example of which can be found with the final twist when Bradley Cooper’s character falls prey to a new circus master, played by Tim Blake Nelson, and becomes the new geek. Now some might say this ending for the character is profound but frankly I saw it coming from midway into the film.

The performances are equally a mixed bag. On the one hand you have strong turns from Willem Dafoe and Rooney Mara, but on the other you have an incredibly one note Cate Blanchett as a femme fatale and Bradley Cooper as a character that seems devoid of any kind of personality.

However, though this review has mainly focused on the negative, as I was disappointed with the film, that is not to say it is all bad. The film’s ending does manage to build a nice amount of tension and feel engaging, and some of the early carnival stuff features nice character work and moments that help the audience to power through just how long the first act goes on for.

Overall, not terrible but certainly a step back for del Toro.

Pros.
Dafoe

Mara

The third act tension

Cons.

Cooper

Blanchett

The pacing

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Last Looks: Charlie Hunnam Finally Finds His Big Screen Franchise

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A retired PI, played by Charlie Hunnam, must come out of retirement to solve the mystery of a daytime TV actor’s, played by Mel Gibson, dead wife.

I thought this was a very well done film. It illuded very much to the golden age of noir films in many ways, however it had more than enough personality to it that you can ignore some of the familiarities.

I have been saying for a long time that Hunnam is a terrific actor who sadly never seems to get cast in the right roles to make him into a big star, but once again he is great here. However, I would say he is outacted by Mel Gibson, yes I know Gibson is controversial but I tried to put that to one side when watching this. Gibson’s hammy British daytime TV actor is hilarious whenever he is on-screen, add to that Gibson’s ability to bring the emotion and deliver some quite touching scenes and you have a scene stealing performance.

The mystery was fairly well done, it was familiar but not predictable I didn’t guess where it was going.

My main criticism of this film would be that it gave Morena Baccarin so little to do, it felt like a huge waste of her talents, though maybe they will develop her character out if the film gets a sequel.

Overall, a charming whodunit.

Pros.

Hunnam

Gibson

A good mystery

Laughs and heart

Cons.

It doesn’t give Baccarin anything to work with

Pacing issues

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In For A Murder: The Real Crime Here Is A Terrible Marriage

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film revolves around a bored housewife, played by Anna Smolowik, as she becomes increasingly involved in trying to solve a murder.

This film was very eh for me, it had some moments of fun but for the most part it was just dull. The humour of the film was very much hit or miss and only made me laugh a few times, I don’t know if it is a different sensibility or something but it mostly didn’t work for me; humour is of course subjective.

I found the murder mystery aspects of the plot to be initially interesting but then quickly played out and stale. I think this is because the pacing of this film is wildly off and every scene feels a few minutes too long. Whenever the film presents you with an interesting idea it ruins it by overly exploring it.

In terms of acting I didn’t find anyone to be particularly either way, neither good nor bad rather just fine.

Overall, this film does have some moments of promise, however for the most part it is dull.

Pros.

Some promise to the murder mystery

A few funny moments

It’s watchable

Cons.

It is poorly paced

It becomes boring

The acting is all very flat

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Only Murders In The Building: Series Overview

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Three residents in an apartment building, played by Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez, start a true crime podcast in the hopes of solving a murder in their building

This will act as a review of the series as a whole rather than as a review of a single episode.

For the most part I thought this series was delightful, the characters were warm and likeable, the series really managed to nail the emotional side of their personalities as well helping them to feel like well-rounded characters.

Moreover, the central whodunit mystery is explored well and kept interesting. The answer to who the killer is is unexpected and sets up further questions for the second season to explore. My only issue in this regard is that there are a few too many red herrings and storylines that lead to nowhere during the investigation that start to feel increasingly like the writers trying to fill time, as such the narrative could have feel done with being cut down and maybe even being one or two episodes less.

I think Steve Martin and Martin Short are on good form here as you would expect them to be, it is nice to see Martin in something again as it has been a while and he and Short have terrific on screen chemistry together. Though both men are outdone by Gomez. Selena Gomez is underused if anything in the series but when she does get screentime she often steals the show, there is so much going on underneath with her character and we as an audience get the feeling the show hasn’t even really scratched the surface, she is easily the breakout star of the series.

Overall, a fun murder mystery series that if anything is too ambitious and as such suffers in a few places.

Pros.

The mystery

The characters

The ending

The return of Steve Martin

Cons.

A few too many subplots

A lot of needless characters

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The Uninvited: Stop Hating The Perceived Homewrecker, She’s Not Done Anything

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film follows a young woman, played by Emily Browning, who has recently come out of a mental institution returning home again. However, after she arrives she becomes more and more concerned about her father’s new girlfriend, played by Elizabeth Banks, who she begins to believe is plotting against her.

I will admit the twist with this one got me; I was not expecting it. I enjoyed that the film took the cliched trope of the evil home invader and flipped it on its head. Furthermore, I thought that Banks, rather than Browning was in fact the star of the show, as she gave off a real sense of menace and stole every scene she was in.

I thought Browning was okay, but her performance did nothing to elevate the character or the role, and she just became a very generic protagonist.

Something that I thought was odd about the film was the way in which the supernatural elements early on clashed with the thriller aspects of the rest of the film. It seemed this film could not decide what it wanted to be so tried to go for both, which hurt it as the initial supernatural stuff jars against what comes later, though I suppose could actually be read as an early clue.

Overall, an interesting thriller film with a solid twist that is let down by its choice of leading lady.

Pros.

Banks

The twist

Good tension

Cons.

Browning

The supernatural elements

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Stoneheart Asylum: What Is The Point Of Having A Mystery If It Is This Obvious?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young doctor, Jim Sturgess, arrives at Stoneheart Asylum to begin his tutelage under the mentorship of Dr Silas Lamb, Ben Kingsley, however, the longer the trainee doctor spends at the asylum the more he realises something is amiss.

Kate Beckinsale headlines this movie, and her name is all over the posters and the marketing, however in actuality her part is incredibly limited, she is basically relegated to a supporting character within the film. However, I thought beside Beckinsale the rest of the cast were well used and actually managed to deliver strong memorable performances.

I think the twists are all fairly obvious and I could guess the big reveal from fairly early on into the film. I feel like there is nothing particularly new about this film as all the twists and turns on display here have been done before.

Although, in the context of the film the twists do work to create a strong sense of tension and unease during proceedings. The idea of the lead getting caught out and locked in the basement and left to die does create meaningful stakes.

The ending is fairly what you would expect, but it is nice to see the characters be given a happy ending after everything that happens.

Overall, an entertaining mystery film though one that is entirely obvious.

Pros.

The performances

The ending

The tension

Cons.

The twists are fairly obvious

Beckinsale is given nothing to do     

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