Film Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is the sequel to the acclaimed Disney’s Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie as the dark fae herself and Elle Fanning as Aurora, a retelling of the beloved children’s fairytale Sleeping Beauty, with a little twist as it paints a new light on the supposed villain.

REVIEW

There was once a time when the golden era of Disney would grace the cinemas, and I grew up in line with each film and they’ve made quite an impact to my life, as they did, I am sure, with everyone else’s. We cannot deny that the past few years have been disappointing in a sense, with Disney so focused on live remakes of the old cartoons that made us fall in love with it in the first place. I’ve watch the live action takes on Cinderella, Beauty and the Best, and Aladdin; alright, they weren’t bad at all, but I just want some new material to come on. Something that will sweep us off our feet.

The tale of Sleeping Beauty is one we are all familiar with- but of Maleficent? This is the reason why we have been entranced with the story when it first came out. It is a version, if I must say, freshly taken from an old tale; a different view. The appeal of villains having a good side is such a strong pull on the majority that we just cannot help but root for them.

Since this is a fresh uptake, we don’t have any idea of what might happen next, and it drove me to watch Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. I was not disappointed.

It has been on the cinemas for a while, but I shall spare you the juiciest details to get you to watch it yourself- it really is that intriguing. I must say that they’ve given new life to the story, and I am amazed on the many symbolism they had in the film.

Let’s not forget the graphics- it will literally blow you away. Everything is so beautiful in the Moors that it takes me back to being a kid all over again, wishing to be taken by the faeries. I love how they depicted the different kinds of faeries, and not just the perfectly made creatures we first picture them as.

I understand that Maleficent is the main focus of the story and Angelina is perfect for the role, I just wish that on this chapter that they’ve given a much deeper line for Aurora and Phillip. The queen, though, has done quite a great job on making me hate her all throughout the film. I need not say more.

Brace yourselves- that is just not it. Here, you will be introduced to more of Maleficent’s side. I will spoil you just this one- there’s more of them like her and they will play a vital role in the film. You must see their wings.

Just thought it ended when the climax was just happening- but I guess we can’t have too brutal deaths and solutions for a children’s film, yeah? (Though let me tell you, it was mostly adults in the cinema.. honestly, Disney.) I also love how it’s a mixture of everything- a bit of comedy, a bit of drama, a bit of action.

Once again, one is never too old for fairytales.

Rating: 10/10

TV Review: Raising Dion (Season 1)

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Raising Dion is a Netflix series adapted from the comics by Dennis Liu.

Raising Dion is a story that revolves about a struggling single mother raising her son Dion, whom she discovers has powers. As she gets on with everyday life, she finds out that Dion inherited his powers from his father, Mark, a scientist, who accidentally got it during one of his field expeditions to the Northern Lights. He disappeared during a storm and was thought to be dead. Alone, she tries to protect him from prying eyes in order to live a normal life.

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REVIEW

The trailer is what hooked me- I watched it a few months before the first season came out. I was not aware that it was based on the comics until I did a little bit of research about it.

I think the story is refreshing as a whole. Superheroes are the trend nowadays, but we haven’t had anything that closely looks into the situation of the gifted individual as a child. It also reflects a much more realistic part in answer to how one’s life will happen once they are discovered to have powers.

A part of me wonders, though, if the story is more interesting in the comics. There are so many sub plot holes that confuses me. I think the show needs to explain more of these events. I certainly will not tell you about the big plot twist towards the end of the season, but I have to be honest and admit that it wasn’t really enough to give an impact.

I hope they add on more characters to add more spice to the story. I must comment though on how young Dion (played by Ja’Siah Young) is doing a tremendous job on bringing the role to life. I also think that Dennis Liu really did a good job on general representation.

The writers need to work on bringing more exciting events to life in the show. As I have said, there are so many possible takes on the story, though I think they will mostly stick to the comics. I want to know how they will tie it to scientific evidence, and explain the nature of the storm.  I am excited to see how this will finally give Dion a purpose. Today, I might just say that it still lacks some of the creative value and is definitely much more interesting in the comics.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: Peaky Blinders (Season 1 to Season 5)

8c1d6b08-e886-4a8d-800f-e77f3b383b31_800_420The Peaky Blinders is a series created by Steven Knight, about a gangster family in Birmingham, England set in 1919.

The Shelby family is the gangster family that heads the Peaky Blinders, named such as for their practice of sewing disposable blades into the peaks of their flat caps to use as weapons in blinding their enemies. It is actually based on a real life gangster of the same name, though it is argued that they do not really have blades on their caps from before.

The family is headed by Thomas Shelby, along with his brothers Arthur and John. They fought in France during the World War I where Tommy (Thomas) came back with multiple awards. He is considered as the head of the family, although he is just the second eldest, for his schemes that expanded the business and power of the Shelbys. The company is also comprised of his aunt, Polly Gray, her son and their cousin Michael Gray, their sister Ada Shelby-Thorne, their little brother Finn, and the spouses of the siblings.

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REVIEW:

Peaky Blinders first caught my eye as my old college schoolmate always posted about it on Facebook. I got curious because this particular person has peculiar taste, as he shuns the social hype and is often into things that are unique. I relate in a way, because things lose their value to me when they are hyped. I started to watch some of the short clips of the show on Facebook and my curiosity prompted me to finally get on Netflix.

I have watched Season 1 to Season 5 during my free time in a span of a fortnight.  Each Season is comprised of 6 episodes of about an hour each. You will not regret time spent on it, because every scene is so well crafted that there is nothing put to waste. Every detail is counted. The intro song is stuck to my head when it comes on.

Season 1 was the introduction of the Shelby family. I was a bit confused at first so I read some of the summaries about them online, (I always seem to be having this problem.) I couldn’t get the role of Freddie Thorne in it and why Tommy hated him until I refreshed my English History knowledge. It pays to know a bit about it, by the way, when you watch the show as it is aligned with England’s historical events. It begins with one of Tommy’s schemes in stealing war guns that everybody is looking for. The English government assigns Major Campbell to find them and he plants Grace Burgess, his spy, as a barmaid in the Shelby’s bar.

I cannot help but be drawn to the Shelbys. I like their swag, although to be honest they were (still are) obnoxious, dangerous, and selfish. They have the worst qualities of being bad men. They have the closest family ties, too.

The characters are fit for their roles. I don’t know how Steven Knight managed to get the perfect actors, but he did. I checked their profiles and they are really far off from the roles they play on Peaky Blinders.

Season 2 was focused on Major Campbell’s revenge on the family after Tommy outwits him in Season 1, and takes Grace from him. The Shelbys plot is focused on entering the London scene, already caught up in a war between two heading factions- the Jews and the Italians. Alfie Solomons is a fan fave, and I didn’t realize it was Tom Hardy until I looked him up. His character is too fluid, you won’t even understand where his loyalties lie.

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Michael was also introduced here and I must really comment on how he has grown all throughout because he was such an innocent kid here and he will become poisonous in the next seasons to come. You should really watch out for the character developments on this show.

Honestly, Season 3 was a bit of a blur to me because of Grace’s comeback, but the wedding scene is one of my favorites when Tommy warns the boys with no fighting. I didn’t really like Grace much, as she was Tommy’s weakness and brought out the worst in him. Tommy is involved with the Russians here and the portrayal of the Russians made me realize why their country abolished their monarchy. They’re all mad; the kind of madness that even Tommy cannot tolerate.

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Season 4 is my personal favorite although it had a lot of death (just so you know, everybody dies all the time in Peaky Blinders; don’t warm up too much to anybody.) Luca Changretta is my villain, what else can you expect from Academy award winning actor Adrien Brody? See, I told you they have brilliant casting. You will also see the ever recognizable Aidan Gillen (Peter Baelish on Game of Thrones) as Aberama Gold, whom Tommy hires as a hitman in the Vendetta between the Shelbys and the Changrettas, as they have killed Luca’s father and brother in Season 3.

I just love the whole string of ideas in the Vendetta. This is also the climax for me, as it brings the family a whole new image after the events in Season 3. They are not the same as before as each of them face their own demons, Tommy especially.

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Season 5 is too short for me. Here it is more aligned to history, as Tommy is given a place in Parliament (through his scheming, of course,) and he keeps an eye on Oswald Moseley. As you know, Moseley was a fascist, and an admirer of Mussolini, the Italian dictator, played by Sam Claflin. I am sorry, but I am so used to Sam’s soft face in my books to movie list (Me Before You, Love Rosie,) it was really weird seeing him play the villain. He’s doing a great job, though.

There is always a cliffhanger in every season, and this seems to be Knight’s style to keep the viewers wanting more of it. I don’t know how this show not as popular as the others, but the quality is an A plus. I don’t know what to expect from the next season, there are so many storyline that can be creatively written. Peaky Blinders should be the next Game of Thrones, but honestly, I hope they don’t ruin the end like they did with GOT.

I haven’t described much of the plot’s major spoilers to get you to watch it yourselves. I highly recommend this show. If any of you has watched it, I am dying to know what you think about the characters and what will happen next, please feel free to leave your thoughts.

Rating: 10/10

TV Review: The Umbrella Academy (Season 1)

A Netflix adaptation of the comic series of the same title by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics.

I wasn’t a fan of Netflix. I felt like spending hours of my life just sitting and watching is a waste of time. I prefer to do something productive like write, draw, or read. But joke’s on me because I can’t seem to get enough of watching Netflix that it’s now a part of my daily routine.

I also try to not indulge myself into things that are “hyped” at the moment, so on the choice of what to watch, I did not want to start with the most popular one, (take a guess, you’re probably watching it.) I tried to look into the short clips they upload on Facebook and set my eyes on Peaky Blinders and The Umbrella Academy. Prior to watching the Umbrella Academy series, I thought it was about some kids trying to be superheroes without the superpowers. With those mask of theirs, I thought they were a rip off from Teen Titans because that definitely looks like Robin’s mask. I guess it is not far off from that.

Let me just remind you guys out there that even though this series was based from the comics, I have never read any of the material. I know this is a mortal sin, and as a reader I read the books first before I try to watch any adaptation of it. However, I must admit that I am not much of a comic book fan, so my opinions will solely be based on the TV series instead.

REVIEW:

On October 1, 1989, there were 43 kids who were born on exactly the same day under impossible circumstances, as the mothers who gave birth to them were not pregnant prior to the said day. Seven of those kids were adopted by the billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves and he honed them into a superhero team called The Umbrella Academy.

He gives them no names, but rather numbers them according to their abilities, although later on their robot nanny Grace gives them one. Number One (Luther), has super strength. Number Two (Diego), has the ability to curve the trajectory of anything he throws, which are usually knives. Number Three (Allison), can manipulate minds with the phrase “I heard a rumor.” Number Four (Klaus), can communicate with the dead and make them corporeal. Number Five (his only name), can jump through space and time. Number Six (Ben), can summon tentacled horrors from his body, who died early from one of their missions and could only talk to Klaus. Number Seven (Vanya), was led to believe that she had no abilities until she discovered that she could convert sound waves into a destructive force.

Given the situation, they grew up in a kind of disciplinarian training. They part ways as they grow up and the series start with an introduction of their dysfunctional adult lives. Luther resides on the moon as per his father’s command, Diego continues the rogue hero life, Allison is an actress but a divorcee who lost custody of her child, Klaus is a drug addict who occasionally talks to his dead brother Ben, and Vanya depends on the drugs prescribed to her to keep her powers in check. Five finds them back from the future after being lost in it when they were young to stop the apocalypse.

Now, this is actually the second series I’ve watched. I finished Peaky Blinders first, and it was so good that my standards have been set high. The first episodes of The Umbrella Academy were boring. There’s just no way to put it. I think there were just too many factors to consider, and as they started on a high climax with Five coming back from the future, some things just did not make sense. I had to read some summaries online to understand it better.

However, as the story unfolds, I find it interesting to know what would happen next. I began to pay attention to the details. I especially like the intros. I know it’s a petty thing but I find it creative how they insert the title on random things like an umbrella someone is holding, or the headline of a newspaper. Every song in each episode has been thought of well, although at first it was kind of irrelevant.

The plot is like food with after taste, you would only get to appreciate it as you get on with the story. The last episodes, though, especially the ending is something that will make me watch out for Season 2.

Like I’ve said, I did not read the comics to have a comparison for the characters but I think they fit well enough. Ellen Page (Vanya) is doing a good job, and I am saying this because I was really irritated at her character and her personal issues. I think it was too petty to cause a great apocalypse, I wish they expanded the back story more to give her a sense of otherness instead of being just weird. Klaus is probably the best character, though to be fair with his type of personality, one’s acting skills will really be honed. My personal favourite is Number Five. He is exceptional in his portrayal of an old man trapped in a young boy’s body. I often wonder why he’s put at fifth place when his powers are unlimited.

I don’t want to go further unless you’ve already watched it, but I must say that I am curious on where they will take the story next since they’ve solved (or not) the biggest issue in Season 1. It is a pretty diverse cast who are doing their roles well enough, I hope they highlight more of their personalities and don’t just focus on them being discarded as kids. I am not saying it is a small issue, but after all they have been through it is not enough to blame it on old daddy who forced them to live up to their potentials.

Overall Rating: 7/10