Star Wars Resistance: Season 1 Premiere (Television/TV Review) – A Very Good Start

All of us who were fans of Star Wars Rebels were saddened to see the show end back in March of this year. Still, we knew that a brand-new animated Star Wars television show was coming out later in 2018 which did soften the blow of Rebels ending. Star Wars Resistance is this new animated TV series and I was really excited to see the premiere episode of this show, titled ‘The Recruit’.

Granted, it is pretty easy to get me excited for the majority of new Star Wars content coming out nowadays. In the case of Resistance, I was really grabbed by the trailers with its crisp animation style, quirky characters as well as the potential in its storytelling. Certainly, the show is set in a time period that is ripe for exploration.

In the Star Wars timeline, Resistance begins six months before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The protagonist of this show is Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, a New Republic pilot who is recruited into The Resistance by Poe Dameron, voiced by Oscar Isaac, to spy on the rising threat of The First Order.

Ideally, I hoped that I would instantly connect to most of the characters in Star Wars Resistance and be entertained in this Season 1 premiere. The premiere of any television show will have pressure to draw in its viewers from the beginning and I was rooting for Resistance to get off to a really good start just like Star Wars Rebels did with ‘Spark of a Rebellion’ which was its Season 1 premiere.

My Thoughts On The Season 1 Premiere Of Star Wars Resistance

Thankfully, ‘The Recruit’, in my opinion, turned out to be a really good start to Star Wars Resistance. Nothing blew my mind in this premiere but it would be unfair to expect that from the pilot episode of any TV show. Saying that, I would contend that Resistance has a much better foundation than Rebels in one key aspect; its animation style and design.

I believe it is clear to see from ‘The Recruit’ that this aspect of Resistance is leaps and bounds better than what we saw in Rebels’ premiere episode. I loved how beautiful and lucid the animation looked and felt, particularly in the flying sequences as we saw at the beginning with a dog-fight between a First Order TIE Figther and New Republic X-wings as well as at the end with a race between Kaz and Torra Doza at the Colossus.

This leads me onto another aspect of Star Wars Resistance, established in ‘The Recruit’, that I liked a lot; the setting. The majority of ‘The Recruit’ was spent at the Colossus, a refuelling station on the ocean planet Castilon which is located at the edge of the known galaxy.

This location was fleshed out very well with its diverse range of inhabitants along with its vibrancy and it is great to have a base for our characters that is larger in scale than the Ghost in Rebels.

The Characters In Star Wars Resistance

Speaking of characters, I thought that they were all well-established when it came to their personalities and I already have clear favourites in the form of Yeager and Neeku. Yeager has a cool demeanour and seems to have an interesting past that I cannot wait to find out more about and Neeku provides humour that made him an endearing protagonist.

Still, the main protagonist of Star Wars Resistance is Kaz and, so far, I like him and I can already see that he is similar to Ezra in some ways. I also loved the small role of Poe Dameron, the cameos of Leia and Starkiller Base as well as the name-drops of the Battle of Scarif and Battle of Jakku in ‘The Recruit’.

It is great to see these tie-ins to the wider Star Wars universe and I am curious to see how the larger story and the growing conflict between The Resistance and The First Order plays into Resistance. I mean, how could I not be after the way ‘The Recruit’ ends with that look of Starkiller Base.

My Final Thoughts On The Season 1 Premiere Of Star Wars Resistance

So, overall, Star Wars Resistance is off to a very good start. As I stated earlier, nothing in ‘The Recruit’ blew me away. But, at the same time, nothing major let me down in this premiere episode. Going forward, I hope that the following episodes of Resistance will, at the very least, have the same level of quality seen in ‘The Recruit’.

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American Vandal Season 2 (Television/TV Review) – Equal In Quality To Season 1

I went into Season 1 of American Vandal not knowing what to expect and what I experienced was a very unique TV show. Certainly, it was a season of television whose mockumentary style was something I was not particularly familiar with. I really enjoyed Season 1 of American Vandal and I was curious to see where a second season would go.

In this second season, a new mystery centred around an antagonist called “The Turd Burglar” would be the task that Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez) and Sam Ecklund (Griffin Gluck) would have to take on in order to expose “The Turd Burglar”.

I hoped Season 2 of American Vandal would be as compelling and ridiculous as Season 1. Still, I was slightly worried that a drop-off in quality would happen with Season 2 compared to Season 1 of American Vandal.

My Thoughts On American Vandal Season 2

In the end, Season 2 of American Vandal does some things better than Season 1 but it also does other things worse. This all combines to create a second season of television that is, in the end, equal to the first. Season 2, like Season 1, did a very good job at keeping me entertained with its ridiculous, compelling narrative.

Literally, how could anyone not be slightly captivated in the absurdity of this show when stuff such as the “Poop piñata”, “Shit Launcher” and “Fruit Ninja” are key components of the narrative in this season of American Vandal, especially from a comedic perspective. Undoubtedly, the style of comedy from Season 1 carried over into Season 2 of American Vandal and the second season of this show is funny.

Yet, I would say that Season 1’s humour was more hard-hitting than Season 2 and the main reason why is because Kevin McClain (Travis Tope), the victim of Season 2, is not as amusing, compelling and/or sympathetic as Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), the victim of Season 1.

A lot of the best comedic moments in Season 1 came through Dylan and, sadly, the same level of quality was not achieved with Kevin in Season 2 of American Vandal. As a result, I would say that the quality of comedy in Season 1 of American Vandal is better than Season 2.

However, where Season 2 triumphs over Season 1 is, firstly, how it has a great antagonist in “The Turd Burglar” and, secondly, how well it dealt with important themes such as privilege, injustice, isolation and living in the digital age. This gave the second season of American Vandal more depth than the first.

My Final Thoughts On American Vandal Season 2

Moreover, I also believe that the plot in Season 2 was better thought out and layered than the first which you come to realise in a big way in the season finale, titled ‘The Dump’, which was phenomenal. Everything came together in the finale and it elevated Season 2 to a place where it is equal to Season 1 in its overall quality.

If you are a fan of the first season, then I think you will really like Season 2 once you get the chance to watch it on Netflix and I am personally very interested to see where a third season of American Vandal could go. Perhaps we could have a new story in college that deals with fraternities/sororities.

We will have to wait and see what transpires in this regard but American Vandal is such a great television series that it would be a waste if it did not continue and explore new territory in terms of themes and ridiculous premises.

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American Animals (Film/Movie Review) – A Fantastic + Unique Surprise

American Animals is a crime drama written and directed by Bart Layton which stars Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters. The film is based on the true story of a library heist that occurred in Lexington, Kentucky at Transylvania University in 2004.

My Expectation For American Animals

I never knew that this movie even existed until Matt Knost of The Top10 Show raved about it on a recent instalment of that podcast which he co-hosts with John Rocha. I decided to give American Animals a shot based on his adulation for it and I went into this film knowing nothing about it.

I had seen no trailers, knew none of the cast members by name or the true story on which this movie was based on. Sometimes, when this happens, the film in question can be a nice surprise in terms of its quality and I hoped that, as a bare minimum, I would be entertained by American Animals.

My Thoughts On American Animals

American Animals really surprised me with its quality and it is one of the most unique films I have seen in 2018 and possibly ever. I am so glad I went into this movie blind because it was the best possible thing for my experience with it. Indeed, knowing nothing about the real story made the plot of this film so much more interesting and compelling than if I knew specific details about the actual library heist that took place.

Undoubtedly, the thing I loved about American Animals the most was how, in a lot of ways, it was more of a documentary than a film based on a true story. Indeed, the young men who committed the library heist in real-life were interviewed for this movie and this footage was interwoven into the narrative of American Animals. This storytelling device was highly effective on a comedic, dramatic and thematic level.

I could not recollect any movie I had seen before this one that had told a story in this way which made American Animals a really different experience and I hope this storytelling device is used in more movies going forward. The way the narrative in American Animals was told also helped me to connect to the main characters and relate to all of them in a big way despite knowing that what they were doing was wrong. This was particularly the case for Warren (Evan Peters).

My Final Thoughts on American Animals

Ultimately, this all blended together in a hard-hitting way with the film’s sobering, philosophical ending. When American Animals had ended and the credits were rolling, I was struggling to think of any major, glaring flaws with it. If I had to be overly critical, I would say that it is not consistent with its pacing. Some parts of the movie flow better than others but this is a pretty minuscule nit-pick in the grand scheme of things.

It certainly does nothing to majorly detract from the quality of a great film. I hope American Animals is experienced by as large an audience as possible because films this unique in its storytelling as American Animals deserve it.

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BlacKkKlansman (Film/Movie Review) – A Must-See Story

BlacKkKlansman is a biographical drama directed by Spike Lee which is based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman that was written by Ron Stallworth. John David Washington stars as Ron Stallworth alongside a cast of Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Corey Hawkins, Topher Grace, Laura Harrier and Adam Driver.

The story of the film takes place in Colorado Springs in the late 1970s and follows Ron Stallworth. Stallworth is the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs police department. He decides to infiltrate and expose the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

My Expectations For BlacKkKlansman

Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X and Inside Man are Spike Lee joints that a lot of film fans, myself included, hold in high regard. However, one could make a strong argument that, since Inside Man, Spike Lee has released a number of films that have not hit the same level of quality as those aforementioned movies.

This is why I was delighted when many film critics, who have a much stronger grasp on Spike Lee’s filmography than I do, stated that BlacKkKlansman was one of Spike Lee’s best directorial efforts in years. The reviews for BlacKkKlansman have been so good that it made me believe that I could potentially watch a contender for Best Picture at the 2019 Oscars. I was really looking forward to see this movie so I could find out whether this would be the case.

If BlacKkKlansman was good enough to be an awards contender in my eyes, then it had a chance of eclipsing Malcolm X as being the best Spike Lee joint I have seen so far. Moreover, seeing if John David Washington could continue what his father, Denzel Washington, brilliantly established with Spike Lee decades ago when it came to a collaborative relationship would be fascinating to see.

Additionally, Adam Driver is, of course, going to draw me into any movie he is in given his quality as an actor. I had high hopes for BlacKkKlansman and I was confident that a powerful and timely story would be told with this movie.

My Thoughts On BlacKkKlansman

BlacKkKlansman is a film that everyone needs to see. This is great work by Spike Lee. While it slightly suffers from slow pacing and, in turn, does not have the huge rewatchability of Malcolm X or Inside Man, it absolutely has the similar power and impact of Do The Right Thing at various times throughout its running time.

One of the big strengths of the movie is how it is able to seamlessly blend comedy and drama. Still, while there is humour in BlacKkKlansman, I was not laughing out loud because I treated this film very seriously due to its significant social and political messages/themes which were deeply embedded in its story.

I can definitely see BlacKkKlansman being a contender at the 2019 Oscars in categories such as Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It may also get some attention for Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor. Certainly, Adam Driver delivers, as he always does, a great performance and John David Washington, based on this film alone, is a natural when it comes to acting, like his father.

I also believe that thanks to the incredibly powerful ending, BlacKkKlansman will stay with the people who see it for a long time and it should do because this film is important. The larger the amount of people who see this movie, the better. With that in mind, I urge you to see BlacKkKlansman as soon as you can. I do not believe that any film which has come out so far in 2018 has been more relevant and timelier to see as this great Spike Lee joint.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp (Film Review) – An Enjoyable MCU Movie

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a superhero film directed by Peyton Reed and it is a sequel to Ant-Man. It is also the twentieth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Paul Rudd reprises his role as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Evangeline Lily reprises her role as Hope van Dyne/Wasp. Michelle Pfeiffer, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne, Abby Ryder Fortson, Hannah John-Kamen, Michael Douglas, David Dastmalchian, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Bobby Cannavale, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer and Michael Peña round out the rest of the cast for this movie.

The story of Ant-Man and the Wasp is set after the events of Captain America: Civil War and focuses on the duo of Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Hope van Dyne/Wasp. They are working with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, to retrieve Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp, from the Quantum Realm.

My Expectation For Ant-Man and the Wasp

For many years, I was just a casual fan of the MCU. I liked the franchise, but I did not have a deep love for it like a lot of other people did because I never read any Marvel comic books. As such, I never had a lot of attachment for the characters in the MCU which prevented me from liking the films in this franchise to a greater extent than I did. However, recent films such as Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War have really made me a bigger fan of the MCU than I ever have been before.

Certainly, I would have usually ignored a film like Ant-Man and the Wasp but I do not have this mentality anymore. In fact, I went back to watch Ant-Man for the first time as preparation for this sequel. I really liked Ant-Man. It is not the best movie in the MCU but there is a lot to like in it. Corey Stoll as the villain is not one of those things, but there is a lot to like in Ant-Man. The humour, action, visuals and performances by Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Peña and particularly Michael Douglas are great aspects of that movie.

Quantum Realm Ant-Man and the Wasp

As a film that is coming off the brilliance of Avengers: Infinity War, my hopes for Ant-Man and the Wasp were raised but I was not expecting this to be a top tier MCU movie. Instead, all I was hoping was for Ant-Man and the Wasp to maintain the quality of what made Ant-Man so entertaining while improving on its weaker aspect; the villain. I was also interested to see how the events of Avengers: Infinity War would play into this film.

My Thoughts On Ant-Man and the Wasp

Overall, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an enjoyable film. However, if I had to choose between the two, I do slightly prefer Ant-Man. One thing that this film considerably improves over the original is the villain. This was not an especially hard thing to do but I liked how Ava/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) had a more relatable and personable motivation for her actions than Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. Ghost is not one of the best MCU villains by any means though.

Hannah John-Kamen as Ava/Ghost in Ant-Man and the Wasp

Moreover, I would contest that some of the strongest aspects of Ant-Man are a little bit weaker in this movie. While the performances from the returning cast, as well as the humour in Ant-Man and the Wasp, are still at the same level of quality as they were in Ant-Man, the action and visuals in this film are slightly worse. Ant-Man and the Wasp also has worse pacing than Ant-Man. This movie did not flow as well as the first and some parts felt quite sluggish.

The core story in Ant-Man and the Wasp is what you expect from where the first film left off and it is good. But, it is not as compelling as the story in Ant-Man and it is a bit disposable when you think of the larger narrative being told in the MCU right now. However, Ant-Man and the Wasp absolutely works as a palette cleanser for the serious and heavy Avengers: Infinity War and, once again, the de-aging technology is outstanding. I love this technology as it opens new doors when it comes to storytelling not just in the MCU but for any film.

Evangeline Lily as Wasp and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man in Ant-Man and the Wasp

My Final Thoughts On Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp also has a great mid-credits scene which, as you can imagine, links into the events of Avengers: Infinity War very well and it sets up some interesting things going forward in the MCU. While I prefer Ant-Man, everything in this film combines to make a good and enjoyable instalment in the MCU. If you are a casual or hardcore fan of this franchise then you should absolutely see Ant-Man and the Wasp because you will, at the very least, be entertained.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Film Review) – It’s Great, But It Had The Potential To Be Exceptional

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is an action film produced, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. This is the second Mission: Impossible film that has had Christopher McQuarrie in the director’s chair and it is a movie that serves as being the sixth instalment in the Mission: Impossible franchise as well as a sequel to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Tom Cruise reprises his iconic role as Ethan Hunt in Fallout and he is part of a cast where Simon Pegg, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin and Rebecca Ferguson all reprise their roles from previous movies in this franchise. Vanessa Kirby, Angela Bassett and Henry Cavill are the newcomers to the cast. The story of Fallout centres on Ethan Hunt and his team who must deal with the interference of August Walker (Henry Cavill), a CIA assassin who has been tasked to monitor Hunt and his team after a failed mission.

My Expectations For Mission: Impossible – Fallout

For me, the Mission: Impossible franchise starts with Mission: Impossible 3. The first Mission: Impossible and Mission: Impossible 2 are pretty bad films in my opinion and I completely disregard them. However, I think every movie after those two in this franchise gets progressively better in quality. Indeed, I believe that the pinnacle of this series is Rogue Nation which was such a fun, entertaining action film. In terms of pure entertainment, I like Mission: Impossible 3, really like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and love Rogue Nation.

As you can imagine, my hopes and expectations for Fallout were incredibly high. Indeed, some of the reviews stated that this was not only the best instalment in the franchise but one of the best action movies ever made. This praise really made me excited to see the film. If Fallout was able to top Rogue Nation, I would be ecstatic as I would have seen one of the best films of 2018 so far.

My Thoughts On Mission: Impossible – Fallout

For me, while this is one of a number of great films I have seen so far in 2018, Fallout is not better than Rogue Nation. But, I do prefer it over Ghost Protocol and it gets really close to being the best film in this franchise. From an entertainment standpoint, I had an absolute great time watching Fallout from beginning to end. Clearly, a Mission: Impossible movie is going to heavily rely on action to keep its audience entertained and I would contest that the action and cinematography in Fallout are the best that we have ever seen in this franchise.

Simon Pegg as Benji, Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust, Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt and Ving Rhames as Luther in Mission Impossible Fallout

Visually, the film is gripping and the fight choreography and action set-pieces are beautifully shot and executed to their fullest potential. Story-wise, Fallout also gives us what I would probably consider to be the most layered plot so far in this franchise which I really appreciated as it made the movie compelling. Performance-wise, everyone in the cast delivers. While there are a couple of clunky-lines of dialogue scattered throughout Fallout, this is more of a minor script nit-pick rather than a cast problem.

Tom Cruise is, as always, great as Ethan Hunt and Hunt is humanised in this film when it comes to his relationships which was good to see from a dramatic perspective. I loved the expanded role that Ving Rhames had in Fallout and a scene he had with Rebecca Ferguson was a particular highlight in this regard. Ferguson herself, just like in Rogue Nation, is exceptional and Simon Pegg is a great focal point for the majority of the humour in Fallout.

A Great Movie That Could Have Been Exceptional

All of the things listed above make Fallout a great film and just behind Rogue Nation as my second favourite movie in the Mission: Impossible franchise. However, it could have been so much better than it was. Sadly, Fallout has the same problem as every movie in this franchise; I was never made to feel as though the characters were in any real danger or that there were any real consequences.

Henry Cavill as August Walker in Mission Impossible Fallout

What made this even more painful was the fact that there are times when Fallout has glorious chances to subvert, glorious chances to go dark and bold in its narrative. But, it goes the other way every single time and the entire opening of the film is a prime example of this which really bummed me out. It made me longing for Fallout to have more consequences but it fails in this regard. The movie is what you expect when it comes to the overall final outcome which is a shame.

Still, that major gripe is the only one I have. Fallout is, overall, a great film that could have been amazing but Fallout is absolutely worth your time at the cinema. All I hope for the future of this franchise is that the storyline in the next film subverts what you would expect from a Mission: Impossible film when it comes to the outcome of its story.

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Incredibles 2 (Film Review) – A Fun Sequel

Incredibles 2 is an animated superhero film directed by Brad Bird. It is a Pixar film that acts as a sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles with an ensemble voice cast that includes Brad Bird, Sophia Bush, Jonathan Banks, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Samuel L. Jackson, Huck Milner, Sarah Vowell, Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter.

The story of Incredibles 2 follows the Parr family who have to try and find a balance between regaining the public’s trust of superheroes as well as having a civilian family life at the same time. However, a new enemy now seeks to turn the public against superheroes which could threaten everything that Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and his family have built after years in underground exile.

My Expectation For Incredibles 2

14 years. 14 years since The Incredibles came out to critical acclaim and, even to this day, it is still regarded by many as one of the best Pixar films ever made. It was a film I used to watch a lot as a kid and the ending of The Incredibles was something which definitely laid the groundwork for a sequel. However, we have had to wait 14 long years for Incredibles 2 to finally become a reality.

Parr Family in Incredibles 2

Thankfully, it seems that the majority of those who have seen Incredibles 2 so far have really liked the movie. Some prefer it to the original and others do not but the majority of those people still see the film as a worthy sequel. All I wanted Incredibles 2 to be was a worthy sequel that made me feel as though the wait for it was worth it.

My Thoughts On Incredibles 2

Thankfully, Incredibles 2 is a really good, fun sequel. While its core story is not as good as the original, it still delivers on entertainment. A couple of things which Incredibles 2 does improve over the original is the quality in animation as well as the action set-pieces. Both of these things are absolutely stellar and they show how far animation has come and what you can do with this medium of storytelling since the mid-2000s.

In terms of characters, I would have to say that my favourite from an entertainment standpoint was Jack-Jack. Every scene he was in was really funny and he kind of steals the film from everyone else when it comes to comedy. Dramatically, I liked what Mr. Incredible went through when it came to his role in the family and the family had a dynamic that was still as great as it was in The Incredibles.

Edna in Incredibles 2

Still, as I said, Incredibles 2 falls short of the original when it comes to its core story and the same can be said for its villain. I am not going to give away who the villain is in Incredibles 2 because it is meant to be shocking twist but the reveal was pretty predictable. You knew it was coming from a mile away and the villain in the film was nowhere near as compelling, imposing or personable as Syndrome when it came to their motivations.

My Final Thoughts on Incredibles 2

It took 14 years for Incredibles 2 to happen but I have no doubt it will take much less time to do an Incredibles 3 if Pixar chooses to do so. I am not sure how I feel about a third film in this franchise. If it is going to happen, then I would like the film to be set way in the future. I believe that seeing these characters considerably aged could provide some interesting character dynamics.

Still, whatever direction a possible Incredibles 3 goes in, I will see it thanks to how much I liked Incredibles 2 even if it does fall short of the original. If you go in with the right expectations, then I am sure that you will enjoy your experience with this movie, especially if you have a family.

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GLOW Season 2 (Television Review) – Very Good But I Prefer Season 1

It is always a great feeling when a season of television comes out of nowhere and surprises you in the best way possible with its heart and fun tone and that is exactly what Season 1 of GLOW did. While I did not think it was a masterpiece that a lot of people proclaimed it to be, it was a fun show to watch. I really liked the 30-minute, 10-episode structure of Season 1 and I was looking forward to seeing more of the same with Season 2.

My hopes for Season 2 were considerably raised when I saw a lot of reviews stating that this season was an improvement over the first. This is not an easy feat for any show to achieve and the glowing reviews gave me a lot of confidence in Season 2 of GLOW to expand upon and improve on what made Season 1 such an easy, enjoyable watch.

My Thoughts on Season 2 of GLOW

In my opinion, Season 2 of GLOW was very good. At times, it was even better than Season 1 but, overall, I prefer Season 1 to Season 2. This was largely down to an absolute disgrace of an episode in Season 2 but before I bash on that particular episode, let me first talk about how, for me, GLOW is stronger as a television show when it leans into its dramatic beats rather than its comedic. The drama and more grounded, human aspects in Season 2 were more compelling and I liked what the show was dealing with dramatically more than it was doing from a comedic sense.

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling GLOW Season 2

Indeed, none of the jokes were really side-splitting. Throughout Season 2, I was only lightly chuckling at a lot of the jokes and the majority of them came whenever Sam Sylvia (Marc Maron) was involved. That was not a bad thing as Marc Maron is, just like Season 1, the best thing about Season 2 of GLOW. However, for a comedy-drama, both of these things really need to deliver and sadly, while the dramatic elements in Season 2 are done well, the comedy fell short for me in this season of GLOW.

The highlights when it came to the drama in Season 2 of GLOW include episodes such as Episode 4 (‘Mother of All Matches’) which dealt with the theme of family through characters such as Debbie (Betty Gilpin) and Tammé (Kia Stevens). Episodes 5-7 (‘Perverts Are People, Too’, ‘Work the Leg’ and ‘Nothing Shattered’) were the best of Season 2 of GLOW when it came to drama because of the development of the relationship between Debbie and Ruth (Alison Brie).

#MeToo

Clearly, they do not have the best relationship after Ruth’s affair with Debbie’s husband and everything came to a head as these episodes progressed. In ‘Perverts Are People, Too’, Ruth has a #MeToo moment with Tom Grant (Paul Fitzgerald), the President of the TV network that airs GLOW. Ruth leaves before anything worse happens to her but it was such an uncomfortable scene to watch and it was a timely episode of television which dealt with a serious subject matter in a way that will have an impact on you.

Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder in GLOW Season 2

Clearly, this moment has massive ramifications. GLOW gets a worse time-slot and this led to an intense scene between Debbie and Ruth about what Ruth went through. The response given by Debbie is horrible and this scene would not have been as powerful as it was without the fantastic acting given by Betty Gilpin and Alison Brie. Little did I know that this acting would be topped my an even more emotionally charged scene between Debbie and Ruth in ‘Nothing Shattered’.

Indeed, this episode dealt with the ramifications of ‘Work the Leg’ where Debbie, in a moment of rage towards Ruth, broke Ruth’s ankle during a wrestling match. In ‘Nothing Shattered’, where Ruth is lying on a hospital bed, things come to a head between Ruth and Debbie in a brutally intense moment. They let everything out and, for me, Episodes 5-7 were the pinnacle of Season 2 and GLOW in general. It signalled an upward trend in the quality of Season 2 and I could not wait for Episode 8 (‘The Good Twin’).

Episode 8 Sucks But Season 2 Ends Strong

Sadly, Season 2 came to a screeching halt with its eighth episode which was utter garbage. This episode was an actual in-world episode of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling and I was dumfounded with how completely unnecessary this episode was. Literally, all you have to do is just skip to the last moments of this episode where Justine (Britt Baron), Sam’s daughter, is seen by her mother on the television.

Chris Lowell as Bash and Betty Gilpin as Debbie in GLOW Season 2

This is the only important thing that happens in ‘The Good Twin’. The rest is just unbearable to watch and that episode immediately brought Season 2 to a place where it fell below Season 1 in terms of quality. Thankfully, Episodes 9 and 10 (‘Rosalie’ and ‘Every Potato Has A Receipt’) put Season 2 of GLOW back on track. Both of these episodes made me excited to see a third season of this show which would seemingly take place in Las Vegas.

Indeed, in ‘Every Potato Has A Receipt’, we see that GLOW is on the verge of being cancelled but the show is being pitched to new networks in the hope that GLOW can live on. Sadly, this does not happen but Ray (Horatio Sanz), a strip club owner that Sam met at Justine’s school dance in ‘Rosalie’ (Yeah, I know that sounds creepy but Ray was not being a pervert, he was just being a chaperone for his daughter), proposes that GLOW should be a live show in Las Vegas.

Ruth and Sam

The final scene of Season 2 shows everyone on a bus heading to Las Vegas and we see Ruth looking uncertain about the future. To me, this partly stems down to what happened in the last two episodes of Season 2 when it came to Ruth and Sam. As I mentioned earlier, Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia remains my favourite thing about GLOW. All of the comedy that works in GLOW comes from him and I really like his relationship with Ruth.

Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder and Marc Maron as Sam Sylvia in GLOW Season 2

Indeed, in ‘Work the Leg’, Ruth also confides to Sam about what happened with Tom Grant and why that was the reason GLOW got a worse timeslot. Sam has the complete opposite reaction to Debbie when Ruth tells him what happened. He praises Ruth for what she did and he goes on to vandalise Tom Grant’s car which further solidified my belief that Sam is the MVP of GLOW and his moments with Ruth in Season 2 are a big part of that.

Whether it is in the first episode of Season 2 (‘Viking Funeral’) where they are talking in Sam’s car or in ‘Work the Leg’ where Sam tells Ruth that she is irreplaceable to him despite her broken ankle, these two always have great moments together that elevate the show. Yet, Ruth and Sam’s relationship may now be a bit more awkward after what happened in ‘Rosalie’ where, at Justine’s high-school dance, Sam and Ruth slow-dance and Sam tries to make a move on Ruth which she rejects.

My Final Thoughts on Season 2 of GLOW

This has set up a potentially fascinating dynamic for Season 3, especially as Ruth is now romantically involved with Russell (Victor Quinaz), a cameraman who worked with Sam. I look forward to see how the things which were established in Season 2 play out next season.

Betty Gilpin as Debbie and Alison Brie as Ruth wrestling in GLOW Season 2

On the whole, I liked Season 2 of GLOW a lot but the awful eighth episode really brought it down for me which was a shame because, without that episode, Season 2 may have surpassed Season 1 in terms of overall quality. Unfortunately, it did not but I am eager to see Season 3 of GLOW when it comes out which I guess would be sometime in 2019.

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Sicario 2: Soldado (Film Review) – A Worthy, Brutal Sequel

Sicario 2: Soldado is a crime thriller directed by Stefano Sollima with Taylor Sheridan being the screenwriter for this film as he was for Sicario. Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Donovan reprise their roles from Sicario with Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener and Isabela Moner joining the cast.

The story of Sicario 2: Soldado is set at the United States/Mexico border and focuses on the drug war in these two countries. This war has intensified to such a brutal point that the drug cartels have started to smuggle terrorists across the border. This forces the CIA to enlist Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) to end this threat to national security.

My Expectation For Sicario 2: Soldado

Sicario was one of the best films I saw in 2015. It was a powerful film that was criminally robbed of several Oscar nominations in categories such as Best Supporting Actor for Benicio del Toro and Best Picture. Moreover, a strong argument exists for Sicario to have won Best Picture over Spotlight, let alone just being nominated.

Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick in Sicario 2 Soldado

As you can imagine, when I found out that a sequel to Sicario was being made, I was ecstatic. While I would have loved for Denis Villeneuve to come back as director, having Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro come back to play their characters as well as having Taylor Sheridan return to write the script was good enough.

I was intrigued to see what Stefano Sollima would bring from a directorial perspective in addition to seeing how Sicario 2: Soldado would expand on what Sicario established when it came to its characters, themes and story. It would be unfair for me to expect that Sicario 2: Soldado would be better than Sicario. Instead, all I wanted was this film to be a good sequel to Sicario. If this film got anywhere to the quality of Sicario, I would be shocked in the best possible way.

My Thoughts On Sicario 2: Soldado

While Sicario 2: Soldado is, as I believed it would be, not on the same level of quality as Sicario, it is still a very good film and a worthy sequel to the original. The biggest compliment I can give to Sicario 2: Soldado is how well it kept the feel, look, suspense and tone of the first film while also dealing with the same themes in a compelling way.

Isabela Moner as Isabela Reyes and Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick in Sicario 2 Soldado

Right from its brutal opening, you are engaged with the story being told where themes such as morality, criminality and terrorism are at the forefront of a film where the performances given by the cast are just as stellar as they were in the first. Again, Benicio del Toro steals the entire film and his character’s relationship with Isabela Reyes (Isabela Moner) was something I really enjoyed.

Clearly, it evoked other films with similar character relationships such as Man on Fire and Logan and I really liked how the relationship between Alejandro and Isabela was portrayed in Sicario 2: Soldado. The dynamic between Benecio del Toro and Josh Brolin was as strong as it was in Sicario and I hope any sequel to Sicario 2: Soldado involves both of these actors. Certainly, a Sicario 3 is absolutely set up in the third act of this film.

Sadly, the third act is also where the film falls short when compared to the original. Indeed, Sicario 2: Soldado loses a bit of steam in its third act when compared to the first two acts. It is also not as powerful as the third act of Sicario. Still, I am absolutely keen to see a third film in this franchise, especially if it ties the first two together. If you loved Sicario, I am confident you will like Sicario 2: Soldado and be interested in a potential Sicario 3.

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Westworld: Season 2 Episode 4 (Television Review) – The Best Episode So Far

In my opinion, Season 2 of Westworld has been great so far but it is evident to me that Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford is severely missed. He was, by far, the best thing about Season 1 and the death of Robert Ford has created a void that Season 2 has yet to fully fill. However, compelling characters still exist, especially when it comes to Bernard and the Man in Black/William. It therefore comes as no surprise that this episode, titled ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, which heavily focuses on these two characters is the best episode of Season 2 so far.

My Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’

When it comes to Bernard, this episode picks up right after the events of ‘Virtù e Fortuna’ and the battle between the Confederados Hosts and the Humans. Bernard, with a little “guidance” by Clementine, ends up in a cave where he is reunited with Elsie who is chained up. We last saw Elsie in Season 1 with her fate left uncertain after being mysteriously attacked and it was Bernard who did this when he was under Ford’s control.

Suffice to say, Elsie was not ecstatic to see her captor again but Bernard had no recollection of this incident. They form a uneasy truce and eventually find a bunker full of dead scientists as well as a Host version of James Delos. The way this mystery unravelled throughout ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ was very compelling and it was cool to see how it linked to the Man in Black/William’s story in the past. Indeed, it was William who was responsible for the creation of Host James Delos.

Shannon Woodward as Elsie and Jeffrey Wright as Bernard in Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

In the past, we see that William and Delos are attempting to recreate James Delos’ consciousness in a host. In essence, a path to immortality is trying to be established. No matter how many times this is attempted, it always fails and this venture is eventually shut down by William when he is played by Ed Harris rather than Jimmi Simpson. This shows how long this experiment has been going on for and, while a failure, it seems like achieving immortality through the Hosts is an important priority for Delos.

The Mystery Of Bernard

However, as we saw with Bernard and Elsie’s story in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, the Host James Delos was kept alive for years after the program was shut down and became deranged. He is found and eventually killed by Bernard and Elsie. After this, Bernard is able to recollect scattered memories from his past and remembers that, before Ford’s death, he was sent by Ford to retrieve the control unit of a second host-human hybrid. However, he cannot remember who that was for.

If I was to guess, I would assume that this second control unit would be for Ford or Arnold but we shall have to wait and see what transpires with this element of the story. We also find out through his scattered memories that the dead scientists in the bunker were killed by Bernard. Clearly, there is so much about Bernard that we do not know about and it will be interesting to see how much more we learn about his past and what it means for his future.

Jimmi Simpson as William in Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

The Ruthlessness Of The Man in Black/William

The same can be said for the Man in Black/William who was absolutely ruthless in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’, both in the past and the present. Certainly, he was remorseless in the past with his decision to end the program with Host James Delos and, in the present, he showed no mercy when he killed the remaining Confederados who were spared by Teddy. Indeed, he and Lawrence are captured by the Condederados at Lawrence’s home and are held hostage with its residents which include Lawrence’s family.

Further on in the episode, the Man in Black/William gives a superb monologue about death which sets up his brutal killing spree of the Confederados. He saves the town’s residents and Lawrence’s family but Ford, through Lawrence’s daughter, tells him that one good deed does not redeem him. It seems that we have more to learn about the Man in Black/William too, particularly as he is now reunited with his daughter.

Indeed, the Man in Black/William meets Grace, the woman who killed the tiger in ‘Virtù e Fortuna’, who is actually Emily, his daughter. We know that the relationship between the two is not exactly warm and amicable and I am sure that it will be developed throughout Season 2 of Westworld. Something which I really liked was how the Man in Black/William was developed in this episode as he became more than just the imposing force that he is. He was more fleshed out as a person when it came to his family.

Ed Harris as William/Man in Black Westworld Season 2 Episode 4 The Riddle of the Sphinx

My Final Thoughts On ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’

All of the things which happened in ‘The Riddle of the Sphinx’ were of such an amazing quality that, as well as being the best episode of Season 2 so far, it may also be one of the best episodes of Westworld in general. The dense and convoluted lore and mythology of this show has been deepened and the mystery of Season 2’s plot, while teased, is still intact and I am still committed to going on this journey.

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