Wednesday 29 April 2015

SPOILER Discussion - Black Sails S2

There are a couple of plot points throughout season 2 that I would like to share upon...
Please don't proceed unless you have watched it (or don't mind spoilers, for that matter)...

Captain Ned Low

          I did mention about the character that was gone too soon, didn't I? Well, it was the villainous, psychopathic pirate captain Ned Low. He scares me. But that's what I like about him. He looks so calm & composed yet so bloody & violent. I was so surprised to see him got killed so quickly, and quite so easily. I expected more to be required to take this guy down. When he was introduced early on, I thought we were seeing the main baddie of Season 2...well, 3 episodes in and I was proven wrong. It's just a shame to kill off a brilliant character too quickly, but I commend Tadhg Murphy for portraying one freaky psychopath I will always remember.

The Big Twist in the Middle...

          By the end of episode 5, a flashback scene revealed a very surprising & most unconventional twist: that James McGraw/Flint had a gay relationship with one Thomas Hamilton. The twist didn't really change the game that much, but it changes our perspective, and it makes things clear: things where we might struggle to understand from Season 1. It's a twist that I, and most likely many others, could never come to expect from other shows. And I admire how the flashback plot unfolds perfectly & smoothly up until this shocking reveal.

Flint or McGraw?

          Before I talk about the season finale, I just wanted to say that this show is brilliant for really having character-driven plots, that makes us wonder who to root for. Sometimes you don't always agree with the character you root for, as is the case with Flint. Meanwhile, the characters you turn to hate can become likeable (will be explained in the next point).
          With Flint, I had trouble following his motives for most of Season 2. He's not really that full-fledged pirate, and you certainly don't see him as "the most feared pirate in Nassau" as they claimed. I was terribly disappointed when he decided to go to the government instead. I had a feeling it was going to fail, but I just cannot agree with him.
          Imagine my joy when the events of the last two episodes - the death of Miranda & mockery by the people, and most importantly, the betrayal of Peter Ashe - lead to him to not drop his Flint identity, instead chose to embrace it and become the pirate we always want to see him become. To see him deciding to instil fear in the hearts of men once again, and to see him releasing Vane's men simply because he embraces his dark always want I want to see of Captain James Flint. And I can't wait to see how he deals with things next in Season 3...

Silver...Vane...who to trust?

           Just quickly, Charles Vane is the opposite of Flint, in terms of my claim above. He was the character I never liked for most of the season, and I looked at him as the main baddie. But seeing him in the last episode, thinking smartly, and deciding to save his fellow pirate...and for a moment fighting alongside him a nice sight to behold. And believe me, at that very moment, I liked him. Even until at the ship when Flint told Vane to hold his men and he responded with a nod, I liked him and it felt nice to see him like this. That was the last we see of him, and so Season 2 ends with me liking him. I hope it would go on, but I fear it may change quick enough when we arrive at Season 3.         

           John Silver is an interesting case because we know that in the books he will become a villain. But in here, it's to see the steps he takes until he becomes the man he will be. Silver is known to be Flint's quartermaster, and the only person he ever I always had that feeling that Silver may have that ingenuity & trickery in him that causes Flint to fear him. Unbeknownst to Flint, he has already done that to him in Season 2. And from then, I had the feeling that he is going to be that intelligent and less physical villain.
           But not yet, as by the end of Season 2, we find him being Flint's quartermaster and losing one leg. So we're one step closer, but I think he still has more tricks to pull in Season 3 before really being the man that Flint fears. And similarly with this character, I find myself hating Silver at one point in the season, but to see him do his tricks and slowly become Long John Silver is very interesting indeed. Hopefully, it won't come too soon.

Sunday 26 April 2015


"There are no strings on me..."

          I did come into this movie with high expectations, yet I'm still thoroughly satisfied. It's not as memorable and earth-shattering as The Avengers was, but for a sequel that has to do justice for half a dozen heroes, with amazing character moments & action, upping the stakes with a powerful foe, is already an achievement of its own. Mostly, the movie is very entertaining in action & in humour, with some standout characters and some brilliant moments that made it just a bit more special.

          There was no shortage of very exciting action sequences from start to end, but they weren't all too memorable or breathtaking. In fact, it's easy to get lost in the madness & excitement of the action that you're only feeling the thrill of it. One of my favourite moments in this respect is the first encounter with Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) - the situation was quiet-ish, and his display of power was just brilliant, and a great introduction to a new "enhanced" character. Apart from these rare quieter moments, we're mostly just lost in the thrill of the ride.

          The usual Marvel formula - playing out lots of humour in the midst of all the action - works brilliantly as always, with some typically catchy one-liners. There is some drama within, but not necessarily the sad kind. In fact, there's more of character conflicts - and it really is character-centric - like Tony Stark's motivation in creating Ultron, as well as conflicts within the team, etc. 

          Even the plot is excellent as well, and the hunt for Ultron flows naturally. While he could, he doesn't appear everywhere, because he doesn't really have to (hear that, Furious 7?). Every action sequence has its purpose, and each character have their own agendas, so its not purely all good vs evil. The story is thought out well, and there's a progress in the story with all these characters (and yes, I'm already sensing the roots of Civil War and Ragnarok within the film itself).

          I did mention some standout character, didn't I? Well, I have three, in this film. The first is hawkeye, who has more of his background explored, and is cool and funny throughout. The second is the Vision, who has been really under wraps until the film. But believe me when I say that he looks awesome, and is awesome.

          The last shouldn't be a surprise - Ultron! I was slightly disappointed that, in battle, he never really looked all too menacing. He didn't have a badass moment with his powers (like the Winter Soldier did). But apart from that, he was amazing. Not your typical robot, he was so full of emotions - he can get angry, he has humour & sarcasm, he can sing, and other times he's just insane. He kind of represents Stark's darkest personalities. Maybe it's my love for comics and for the character, but sometime I feel like I understand his character - with all that conflicts of information & complication in his head - he just wants to rid the world of the biggest source of problems. And yes, I have to credit James Spader for a wonderful hypnotic voice. My favourite moment, was when he crushes his previous form with his upgraded form while giving a speech. Badass, and insane!!


          It may not be as memorable as the record-shattering The Avengers, but Age of Ultron brings back our favourite heroes in an awesome showdown against an insane & powerful foe, while introducing new characters, bringing some amazing character moments, and pushing the story forward for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

SCORE: 9.0

Tuesday 21 April 2015

SPOILER Discussion - Furious 7

There are two things that are less than spectacular...the plot, and the villain...



One Shaw is better than the other...

          Let's start with the villain. The main baddie, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) has been teased since the last film, and Statham's a great guy...but his character here is a major disappointment. And this is in direct comparison to the baddie in the previous film, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), which ironically is his on-screen brother and the reason behind Deckard's motives in this film.

          However, despite his cool posture and badass fighting skills, he never really felt like an intense villain. He appears all of a sudden to cause trouble, but never really threatens. Most of the time, he only fights with Dom. And it only takes Dom (and a crumbling street) to take him out. The others didn't even had a lot to do with Deckard.

          In comparison, Owen Shaw's first appearance in Furious 6 was that of a calm and cunning villain. And throughout, his intelligence & commitment to the battle was clear and the rest of the film felt more like a chess game between Dom's crew and Shaw's gang. That's how impactful Owen Shaw was, and comparatively, I never really feel like Deckard Shaw was doing anything substantial aside from fighting Dom. Instead it feels to me that his story arc and the thing with "God's eye" is an entirely separate plot.

Messy plot...

          Easily, this leads to one of the reasons the plot doesn't work. Initially it feels as if Shaw was going to be the hunter, but then Dom seeks out "God's eye" to hunt him down. And then this is where it gets stupid: Deckard Shaw is there in the bus chase, and again in Abu Dhabi - all the while when Dom was trying to find the device...which again, is supposed to be used to find Shaw. I mean...what the hell? 

          Realistically, Dom should be seeing his real target there, right in front of his eyes. And yet, Shaw could be a more deadly villain by really being invisible...not appearing everywhere Dom is and simply adding a little more trouble to the scene. It just doesn't really work as a plot. It's stupid...and messy, too. Deckard could have been removed from the scene in Abu Dhabi, and it will be much better in terms of plot.

          It's just the fact that Deckard always appears in the middle of something else...and never has the team really doing things solely in the purpose of taking down Shaw. (Maybe they paid Statham too much to not be using him sparingly). A very disappointing villain from a franchise that brought me one of my favourite villains ever in Owen Shaw.

          The plot got messy to accomodate Deckard Shaw and some cooler, next-level, action sequences. Take both away, and I'll find a film with a more natural plot that works.

Touching Tribute

          As an additional note, I still remain glad to find the tribute as the most memorable part of the film for me. When I saw it, I find myself realizing how much Paul Walker/Brian O'Conner is quite the center and the heart of this franchise. Along with Vin Diesel (Toretto), he had been there from the beginning...shaping the franchise from a street racing flick to a car heist/family drama blockbuster. And he's such a nice fellow that I always adore, both on and off screen. The final shot of the separating roads struck me hard, realizing we will never get to see him again - as if the roads could never connect again. No shame in saying that tears came out at the time, and I will forever admire the man that is the heart of this wonderful franchise.  


Thursday 16 April 2015

TV Review: Daredevil

A very dark & gritty tone for Marvel's best TV series to date...

          Despite this being a Marvel superhero character, this show was never aimed at younger audiences, having a rating of TV-MA (i.e. Mature). It has strong, bloody violence that I could never expect from Marvel, or even DC for that matter. Believe me, some scenes are almost Game of Thrones-esque brutal. The dark & gritty tone is one thing, but the brutality & blood is another thing entirely. There's not a lot of it, but they are violent.

          With that said, the grittiness & realism is a fresh take for a Marvel character. It gives a different feel than the superheroes we see in the MCU. It suits this series well because, aside the fact that these characters have no to little superpowers, the events that play out are on a smaller scale & the setting is on the streets of one New York neighbourhood of Hell's Kitchen, which makes the whole series very grounded, indeed. Despite some easter eggs connecting it to the bigger universe, I certainly never feel like it is in the same one. But it's also because this series is already so good on its own.

          The other thing that really came out well in this series are the characters. The alter ego of Daredevil, Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) is portrayed perfectly, and is the Matt Murdock I have always wanted to see. With such a charisma as a blind lawyer, along with how he deals with his struggles in his endeavour, makes him such a likeable and relatable character at the same time. Some other characters are well presented as well, especially Foggy Nelson & Wilson Fisk. It's so easy to relate to these characters, perhaps because their backgrounds are explored well enough, too.

          There are some excellently choreographed fight sequences, although the show was never meant to glorify action sequences. But they are there - and some of them are brilliant. There's great humour, occasionally. The drama isn't exactly very powerful, but the dialogues are crafted so brilliantly to make certain scenes fun, dramatic, and impactful. Despite some distractions, the series never felt episodic because there is always something moving forward. And the pace is not too fast yet not too slow, giving enough time for some significant characters to be explored.


          It never really felt like Marvel - more of a standalone show instead. And if you are comfortable with brutal & bloody violence, the show is a fresh take of the typical vigilante act, by giving it another side to the story, with Matt Murdock's life struggles unlike that of any other comic book vigilante. Recommended to watch!

Monday 13 April 2015

Looking Forward: MAY 2015

My most anticipated film of the year...and 3 other big blockbusters...what a month it will be!!

Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1-USA, Apr 23-UK, Apr 23-Singapore)

          I have been patiently anticipating this film since the title was announced two years back. The first Avengers film shattered records in the box office and still earns highly positive reviews by critics & fans alike. It even become an inspiration to many - to gather their heroes in the same universe and group them for the bigger battles - DC are doing this, Sony tried this, and even non-superhero franchises are attempting these.
          With my favourite band of heroes back, a brilliantly awesome villain in Ultron, the illustrious Joss Whedon at the helm, and some seriously awesome trailers to show for...words cannot even express my excitement for this film.

Trailers: (Trailer #1) (Must See!) (Trailer #2) (Trailer #3) (Must See!!!)

Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15-USA, May 14-UK, May 14-Singapore)

           With this film, I kind of understand its loud and comical tone, but I'm struggling to get a hold of what the plot is about. There are many kinds of post-apocalyptic films, and I'm curious to see how this one could bring about its crazy, explosive action sequences. I have not seen the original Mad Max trilogy, but I don't intend to change that (and maybe I could present my view as a younger, modern audience who wish to be taken into the franchise well with this film). Fury Road does have an exciting array of cast, and some action-packed trailers...and I'm on board for the ride to see what this film has to offer in an amazing month.

Trailers: (Comic-Con Teaser) (Trailer #1) (Trailer #2) (Must See!)

Tomorrowland (May 22-USA, May 22-UK, May 21-Singapore)

          This film has been under a large veil of secrecy, until the trailer that came out not very long ago. After seeing the trailer, however, I did get slightly disappointed because I don't understand how the connection between Tomorrowland and the real world is. At one point it feels like a direct one (like when in the car), but at other times it looks as if it doesn't (like in George Clooney's character's house, and the dog). But I'm still holding that trust that I may be surprised when I walk into the theatre to watch this, because of Brad Bird (of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol), of the great cast, and more importantly, some very promising visual effects.

Trailers: (Teaser) (Trailer #1)

San Andreas (May 29-USA, May 29-UK, May 28-Singapore)

           I wasn't initially very excited with this film, but the trailers did show some exciting action sequences & visual effects. I had little interest with the plot, but the cast looks promising, and if they (along with the production team) could deliver, I may find this as another excellent blockbuster in an already excellent month for films.

Trailers: (Teaser) (Trailer #2)

Other Movies:

Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15)
-A musical comedy sequel to the critically & commercially successful Pitch Perfect...

Thursday 9 April 2015


"You're the last real threat on the table..."

          I admit. I'm probably not as dissapointed as I thought I'd be because I came in with low expectations. Anyone hoping to get lost in the fun will be disappointed, but the film has its moments for people who has spare time to be filled with a dose of action flick. Brilliant actors and some slick fight sequences saves this otherwise boring and slow film.

          The thing with the characters here is interesting. They are fun, but they're boring. Sounds weird, but here's why. The actors were brilliant actors with their own unique style - Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone... - you know these guys, and you like them. Myself, I can't stop smiling at Sean's handsome face and Ray's awesome accent. But the problem is, as characters, they become boring. They are dull, and you can't help not caring about them...because you just don't care. Especially Javier Bardem's character, who is more annoying than anything. It's just hard to understand or follow these characters, but the actors did ever so brilliantly with their style, so you enjoy seeing them do their thing.

          The only other thing likeable is some excellent action sequences. There are not a lot of these, and they are done in such a gritty and brutal way. But even in such grittiness and brutality, they are still slick and fast-paced enough to make them enjoyable, in the midst of the boring and dull plot.

          Apart from these two points, I find no reason to claim that this is a good movie. The pace is slow. The plot is straightforward survival mission, and you can hardly care for the characters, anyway. Lack of comedy (or even drama) makes the journey even less interesting than it already is. But it's not as bad as the critics say...there are some moments to be enjoyed, and some actors to be admired.


          If you have time to spare, and can afford a not-so-high expectation, this film may well be good enough, with some exciting action sequences, and some brilliant actors. Apart from that (and Sean Penn's admirable physique), I find no reason to recommend anyone of this film.

SCORE: 4.0

Sunday 5 April 2015

TV Review: Black Sails S2

The 10-episode second season of Black Sails (of STARZ channel) recently ended...and it was a vast improvement over the first...

Note: This TV Show is R-rated (Violence, Gore, Nudity, etc) - For 18 and above

          The first season felt very much straightforward, while the second season's plot turns corners for more times than I ever expected. But they were pleasant and surprising turns. Generally, this season has less action sequences, but the plot is so deep and interesting, and more importantly, character-driven - that it becomes interesting just to see how each character reacts to specific situations.

          There are some minor disappointments within, but its hard to explain without spoiling the fun. For now, just know that there was an exciting character that was gone way too soon. And the main plot progresses very slowly, as we cover a lot of angles from a lot of the characters - and some characters are less interesting than others.

           Otherwise, the plot is very intriguing & character driven. Maybe too character driven, that sometimes we don't agree with what the character (like the main protagonist) does, but it makes sense because that's how he should be. I could never root for one character for too long, and similarly, I could always like back the characters I once hated. This is a representation of how the plot takes turns & changes direction quite oftenly.

           It is already clear that the story here is generally picked up to be the prequel story of "Treasure Island" novel. Although it may well be never heading to the same direction, and it mostly never feels like it...but whenever a scene/event suggests that it is heading the same way the book does - the connection is pleasingly welcome.

          Finally, just to clear things up. Some episodes does have exciting fight sequences, but you cannot go into this show expecting to have fun from it. Meanwhile, the plot is constructed so brilliantly that it flows naturally and according to each distinct characters. The show progresses a bit slowly, but there is always that sense of reward by the end of every episode - and obviously, by the end of the season.


          General viewers may find it hard to remain attached to this brilliant pirate-themed show. But if you are comfortable with R-rated violence, etc, and are quite interested in the life of pirates of the 17th century, I do recommend catching up with this show, because I feel that season 3 next year is going to be a big one!

Thursday 2 April 2015


"I don't have friends...I got family"

          Action-packed, humorous, and all the fun you can have in 2+ hours. But it won't leave you with a lasting impression (at least, it didn't to me). The touching tribute to Paul Walker by the end of the film is the only thing I find memorable. It's a great fun movie, mind you, but the plot is a bit messy and the villian lacks the impact unlike that of the previous film.

          I did say on my preview post that I fear that this film may be forcing it, in terms of the action sequences. And to a certain degree, I still maintain that statement. I can never really complain when action sequences like in Furious 7 are so awesome and fun as it is, and you can feel that the actors really put their heart & soul into these. As silly as it gets, it means a lot to these guys, and what becomes of it is some awesomely entertaining, loud, explosive action. And in terms of minutes, there's a lot of these as well. From start to end, the action never stops to take a breath.

          The humour was great all over as well, and it very much contributes to the action & dialogues as well. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) was especially funny most of the time, and I find them superbly hilarious. Although, it was a bit too excessive, and near the end, his humour gets a bit too predictable and dull. I suppose you can only do the same joke so far. But most of the time, I was having too much fun to care about it.

          There were easily setbacks to be found within this movie. The thing I find most disappointing is the plot that gets so messy by trying to fit too many things in. Particularly disappointing, is the main villain. Later on, I shall try to explain this with a spoiler discussion, but for now...just know that Jason Statham's character disappoints. He lacks the impact & intensity that Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) of Furious 6 brings. And this relates directly to the plot being a disappointing mess.


          It's less than what I expected, and I can bluntly say that I still prefer Furious 6 any day. But it's a super fun movie from start to end, with all the explosive action & comedic humour. And I find it conveniently touching that the only thing I find memorable is the tribute to Paul Walker. And with the love of the fans, and especially of the cast, I can stand up and say this is a fitting send-off for Paul Walker (and Brian O' Conner).

SCORE: 7.5