Film News – J.C. Chandor On Triple Frontier + Netflix

Recently, Ben Affleck spoke about Triple Frontier, a heist film in which he has a starring role in alongside Oscar Isaac. Now, J.C. Chandor, the director of this movie, has given an interview to Collider and he has discussed both Triple Frontier and Netflix.

Triple Frontier

Here is what J.C. Chandor had to say on how Triple Frontier changed as a result of early screenings:

It got tighter, which I think is so cool. It feathers right back into what you’re talking about. One of the things that Scott Stuber, who’s running this shop, and was my boss on this movie, one of the things he really stressed in a positive way for me was no matter how we’re delivering, this the two hour movie is not dead.”

It’s such an efficient, beautiful, well-timed – going back to Greek plays, most of them were somewhere between an hour and half and three hours long, in multi-parts. To tell a story over ten hours is fun, and there’s a lot of people doing it right now.”

Even in your home, as that filmmaker would say, as a TV movie, the two hour time table is something to believe in as a true storytelling technique. I was sort of imagining that I would have a little more freedom and willingness because of Netflix and because of the difference of the movie, to kind of let it wander the way some of my other films had.”

What I realized in the editing room, especially after the first screening we did, which was a mall in New Jersey, you know 400 people. It was a pretty brutal screening because halfway through it I realized that this is a freaking action, fun, adventure film that’s operating on two levels. It needs to be this tense, fun thrill ride.”

Netflix

J.C. Chandor also spoke about whether he has heard about the whole thing with Netflix and the Oscars and if Netflix films should be eligible for these awards:

A little bit. I haven’t heard about this latest. These guys gave me a warning that a prominent member in the community has spoken out quite clearly on it […] My career, when I got my first chance to do this, was the first days of this world kind of changing. That movie was released day and date.”

Would I have loved that movie, for every person to come and get a babysitter and see it in a movie theater, yes. In the last 10 years or whatever, since that filmed played, the world just keeps changing. I think as storytellers, and as an industry, to sort of fully put your head in the sand is not really an option.”

For 800 bucks you can have a movie screen in your house and have any movie ever made delivered to it. To sort of deny that the market place has shifted, is a fool’s errand, just as an industry. That’s just my personal opinion about where we are.”

Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here at theturnertalks.com as well as my reviews which you can also all find at sp-bx.com.

Film News – Ben Affleck On Triple Frontier

Multiple delays and cast changes meant that Triple Frontier did not have the smoothest of productions. Still, as long as the film gets made to a good enough quality and is released in the end then all the struggles will have been worth it. Ben Affleck was part of the cast for this Netflix heist movie and, in an exclusive interview with Collider, he had the opportunity to talk about Triple Frontier.

Triple Frontier

Here is what Ben Affleck said on what it was about the script that made him want to be a part of Triple Frontier:

You know, it’s complex, and it doesn’t make easy judgements, and you keep calibrating your opinion of the characters as the movie goes on. That keeps changing. I thought that was really interesting. I thought it was a really good action script, but it was kind of character-based. It owed something to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is one of my favorite movies.”

Ben Affleck also spoke about what it was like filming the heist scene for Triple Frontier:

Yeah, we rehearsed that [heist scene] more than anything else. They wanted to get a sense that we were professional soldiers from that. We really drilled every step because we wanted to look like we’ve done it before.”

“We wanted to look convincingly like Special Forces operators. We were lucky because Guy Norris helped us with that, as well as Nick John, the technical adviser. We just rehearsed it so much that it became second nature. It was just a function of putting in the time.”

I was dreading the heist because J.C. just had to make it all happen in the rain. From experience, I know what it’s like. The first take is fun, but by take 7 you’re standing there, your underwear is wet, you’re shivering between takes. Being wet can make almost any experience a little bit of a bummer.”

Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here at theturnertalks.com as well as my reviews which you can also all find at sp-bx.com.

TV News – Idris Elba Discusses Turn Up Charlie

I know that a lot of Idris Elba fans cannot wait to see him star in the Fast and the Furious spin-off Hobbs and Shaw. Still, that film is not coming out until August. In the meantime, one can see Idris Elba in a new TV show on Netflix called Turn Up Charlie and, in an interview with Collider, Idris Elba was given the chance to speak about Turn Up Charlie.

Turn Up Charlie

One of the things Idris Elba discussed was how he figured out the arc for Charlie:

Once they bought it in the room, there was a really awkward silence. It was like, ‘Now, what do I say?’ And then, I was shitting myself for about eight months, trying to pull the story together, but we did. I had a writers room in London, which comprised of young writers, some new writers and some experienced writers.”

It all came together with long sessions of me telling stories, and specifically telling stories about DJ culture. I really wanted to make a show about DJs, but there was just not enough there to make it interesting. So, what started off as a DJ show, and a show about a DJ trying to climb up the ladder, became this story about parenting, which came from the anecdotes.”

We merged it together and it started to write itself, once we added the elements that we did. The inner team at Netflix are amazing about that process. They weren’t putting on the pressure. In fact, they were very open about their analytics, believe it or not.”

We managed to understand what really makes the average Netflix user really tick, so we had this really interesting insight into how to make this story work.”

Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here on Soapbox as well as my reviews which you can also all find at my blog theturnertalks.com.

TV News – Robert Sheehan + Ellen Page On The Umbrella Academy

When it comes to the most anticipated Netflix Originals coming out in 2019, Stranger Things is probably top of the list for a lot of people. Still, there are always new Netflix Originals that come out of nowhere and are a real surprise in a good way. American Vandal springs to mind in this regard.

The Umbrella Academy looks as though it is one of these surprise TV shows that drop on Netflix and capture the cultural zeitgeist for a short period of time. Two stars of this television show are Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan who both spoke to Collider about The Umbrella Academy.

The Umbrella Academy

Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan said this on their initial reaction to reading The Umbrella Academy pilot script:

SHEEHAN: “I had a similar experience as Ellen, being very intrigued by the pilot script, and then having a good, thorough conversation with (showrunner) Steve Blackman and the writing team about where the journey goes and what sort of deviations it takes.”

That was the thing that really got my creative juices flowing. The journey that Klaus goes on is totally bonkers, in a very, very wonderful way. All of that promise, and all of that meat and potatoes, across the 10 hours, was the stuff that I was dying to get stuck into.”

PAGE: “My initial response to Vanya was that I just really related to her and the experience that she’s having, at that time, in the world. I had the feeling, the moment I finished the pilot, of wanting to read the next one mixed with just such a lovely conversation with Steve Blackman, who’s so wonderful and has an incredible track record.”

He explained the tone, the journey of the characters, and how he wanted to look. It really did sound like something that I had never seen before, and it sounded like something where you could have some fun mixed with some real depth. As an actor, there was a lot to grab onto. It just felt like a really nice combo.”

Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here at theturnertalks.com as well as my reviews which you can also all find at sp-bx.com.

TV News – Jon Bernthal On The Punisher Season 2

Recently, Marvel Netflix television shows such as Luke Cage and Daredevil have been cancelled and it is expected that The Punisher will also be cancelled after Season 2 is released. Jon Bernthal reprises his role as Frank Castle for the second season of this superhero action TV series and, in a roundtable interview, he had the opportunity to discuss Season 2 of The Punisher.

The Punisher Season 2

Jon Bernthal had this to say on what message The Punisher has about the issue of gun violence:

I can’t speak for the show because I don’t write it. I think that you’d have to talk to Steve and to Marvel about that. For me, it’s a few things. Number one, art, when it’s done right, holds a mirror to society and makes you question it. And question yourself.”

You shouldn’t attempt to spoon feed answers or to preach. [Art should] make you look at yourself and hopefully present different sides to an argument and help make society or help make the viewer ask questions about the world in which they live in. I tend to try and avoid art that is preachy and tells you how to think.”

As far as I’m concerned, I think for so long now we’ve really gone through this thing in this country where a certain element has a stronghold and a monopoly on what it means to be strong or tough or masculine or patriotic, for that matter. For me, the great joy that I have in playing this role and other roles is where I got to pick soldiers and combat vets, and the guys that share their stories with me.”

To me, the mark of somebody who is strong, patriotic, tough is someone who has an open mind. Someone who is open to listening to all sides and not be steadfast and not be completely clinging to their own sense of, ‘This is what is right and this is what is wrong.’”

Thank you for reading this article! You can find my other articles here at theturnertalks.com as well as my reviews which you can also all find at sp-bx.com.

House of Cards Season 6 (Television/TV Review) – A Terrible Final Season

Fans of House of Cards were stunned when the heinous acts of Kevin Spacey were revealed. Clearly, no other option remained than to fire him from House of Cards which meant that Season 5 was the last season where we would see Frank Underwood in this political TV show.

All of this meant that Season 6 was in doubt. However, a sixth and final season of House of Cards did go ahead with Robin Wright playing the lead role of Claire Underwood. I was interested to see how this final season of House of Cards would wrap up the long-running storylines and what affect the absence of Kevin Spacey would have on the show.

My Thoughts On House of Cards Season 6

When the credits rolled on the final episode of House of Cards, it was clear to me that Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood was badly missed; he was the show. Season 6 of House of Cards felt rudderless without him as the focal point.

After everything that came out about Kevin Spacey, there was absolutely no way he could have continued playing Frank Underwood in this television series. With the benefit of hindsight though, Season 6 should not have been made. House of Cards should have ended with Season 5. The show should have ended with Kevin Spacey.

This is because Season 6 is an utter mess. Everything in this eight-episode season of House of Cards felt rushed and not enough time was given to wrap up all of the interconnected storylines in a satisfying way. Because of this, what we were eventually led to was an ending that was abysmal. The last five minutes in the finale of Season 6 were an absolute joke when it came to closure.

The performances in this season of House of Cards were still very good, especially from Robin Wright, but they could not save a season of television that had such bad storytelling. Season 6 was a terrible way to end House of Cards and end a TV show that was so crucial to the success of Netflix as a major player in the entertainment industry.

House of Cards Season 6 Review

 

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.

American Vandal Season 2 Television TV Review Pin

 

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.

GLOW Season 2 Review Pin

 

Stranger Things Season 2 (Television Review) – Better Than Season 1

Undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated television shows of 2017 has been Season 2 of Stranger Things. The first season was a cultural phenomenon and, if you read my review of the first season earlier this year, you will know that I really liked it. A big reason why Season 1 was so good was because of the kids and the chemistry they had together and they were all back for Season 2.

Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) return for Season 2 in addition to Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper respectively. Noah Schnapp has a bigger role as Will Byers in Season 2 of Stranger Things and we have new characters such as Bob (Sean Astin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Billy (Dacre Montgomery) making their debuts too.

The story of Season 2 of Stranger Things is set one year after the events of the first season and the focus is on Will who is still recovering from his harrowing experience in the Upside Down. We find out that Will still has a connection to and is influenced by the Upside Down which leads to the characters finding out the shocking truth that a larger threat from the Upside Down exists; the Shadow Monster. In order to save Will, the Shadow Monster must be defeated.

Noah Schnapp as Will and the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer in Stranger Things Season 2

My Knowledge and Expectation for Season 2 of Stranger Things

As I said above, I watched the first season of Stranger Things on Netflix and, after finishing what I thought was a very good season of television, I was intrigued to see where the story would go. Obviously, I had high expectations given how much the first season impressed me with its characters and world-building. I wanted more of the same in this regard but I also wanted this second season of Stranger Things to move away from its reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Clearly, a big reason why the first season of Stranger Things was so widely loved was because of its ability to pay homage to 80s pop culture. However, as I look back at the first season, I do feel as though its reliance on 80s nostalgia to pull people in meant that the story was never given the chance to be its own unique thing. I hoped that Season 2 of Stranger Things would find a better balance of paying homage to the 1980s while being its own story at the same time. Moreover, I still wanted the show to have that great blend of science-fiction and horror.

My Thoughts on Season 2 of Stranger Things

I have to say, there are not a lot of weak points in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This is a pretty flawless season of television that continues the greatness of the first season but it also improves on the first season due to the fact that Season 2 does not rely on 80s nostalgia. Obviously, it does pay homage to the 1980s through its brilliant synth score and music choices which included bands such as Metallica, The Police and Scorpions (a band that was also featured in GLOW).

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Finn Wolfhard as Mike in Stranger Things Season 2

Season 2 of Stranger Things is also influenced by movies such as Aliens and Ghostbusters. However, it does not rely on these things to shape the story like Season 1 did. The story of Season 2 felt much more like its own thing. One of the brilliant aspects of Season 2 which cemented how special this season of Stranger Things felt was the arc of Will Byers and the brilliant performance Noah Schnapp gives as this character.

Will Byers

Truly, Noah Schnapp gives one of the best child performances I have ever seen. The levels that he goes to while playing Will is extraordinary and it pushes him right to the forefront when it comes to award recognition. Additionally, seeing Will struggle with what is essentially PTSD from his time in the Upside Down was very gripping and set the stage for what was quite a harrowing arc for his character.

Indeed, he becomes possessed by the Shadow Monster and the Shadow Monster is actually feeding off Will who is, in some sense, a host for this mythical creature. Some of the scenes in Season 2 of Stranger Things which showcase this are very disturbing and it proved how great an actor Noah Schnapp is for his age.

Noah Schnapp as Will in Stranger Things Season 2

This was particularly evident in the eighth episode of Season 2, titled ‘The Mind Flayer’, where the possession of Will by the Shadow Monster is at its peak. It made for some quite emotional scenes involving the people who love Will as they try to get through to him by recalling their most cherished memories of him. For me, this eclipsed any moment in Season 1 of Stranger Things.

It was also great to see Will spend more time with Dustin, Mike and Lucas and the chemistry between the kids is still fantastic and helps Stranger Things be as great as it is. Whether it was them turning up to school as the only ones dressed up for Halloween or obsessing over who beat the high score at Dig Dug, the moments they shared as a group were very funny. If Stranger Things is to have more success in the future, then these kids are vital in achieving this.

Hopper and Eleven

Additionally, it is easy to see how the whole cast feels like a family both on and off-screen. All the relationships in this show are very authentic and this is especially true for the relationship between Jim Hopper and Eleven. I did not expect these two to be together in Season 2 of Stranger Things. This made it quite a nice surprise when we found out in the first episode, titled ‘MADMAX’, that Eleven has been in hiding and Hopper is looking after her.

David Harbour as Hopper and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

I loved the relationship they had. Obviously, it had a father/daughter vibe to it and, as Season 2 of Stranger Things progressed, you could tell how much Hopper cared for Eleven. This made complete sense given the tragedy which surrounded his own daughter and this affection he has for her was especially evident in ‘The Spy’ which was the sixth episode of Season 2.

It was also cool to get flashbacks of Eleven’s time on her own after she escaped the Upside Down and before Hopper found her. One of the funniest moments in Season 2 of Stranger Things happened in one of these flashbacks. Indeed, in the second episode, titled ‘Trick or Treat, Freak’, we see a squirrel being flown into a tree by Eleven (I know, it is a horrible thing to happen but it was so funny!).

The New Characters

Aside from the characters we know and love, I also thought the new characters that were introduced in Season 2 of Stranger Things were good. I liked Max (Sadie Sink) and her interactions with the group of kids. She added a bit of spunk to that group and to see Mike be really annoyed with having another girl around was interesting because it confirmed that he had still not got over Eleven.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Dart in Stranger Things Season 2

While the character of Billy was a complete prick, the performance that Dacre Montgomery gave as that character in Season 2 of Stranger Things was excellent. To see why Billy was as horrible as he was made me empathise with his situation but it did not take away from the fact that the way he treated Max and others was awful. I thought I hated Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) in Season 1 but Billy surpassed Steve in the douche-bag category.

Undoubtedly, my favourite new character was Bob, i.e. Bob the Brain. Bob was played by Sean Astin who is most famous for his role as Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Clearly, this would always influence my thinking that Bob was a legend. But, the matter of the fact is that he was a legend and his heroism and sacrifice in ‘The Mind Flayer’ was proof of this.

Dustin and Steve

In terms of the recurring characters, Dustin is still the MVP. I love this guy and his whole thing with Dart, the baby demo-dog, in Season 2 of Stranger Things was weird but cute at the same time even if Dart did kill a cat. However, it was his dynamic with Steve that was one of the best parts of Season 2 and it might have been the best relationship that was developed in this season of Stranger Things.

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Joe Keery as Steve in Stranger Things Season 2

They had such a great rapport when they were together and, while I did not like Steve as a person in Season 1 of Stranger Things, he has grown on me because he has redeeming, likeable qualities. These qualities were most evident when he was with Dustin and the other kids. He is still a bit arrogant but he is getting better.

Eleven and Episode 7

While Dustin is probably my favourite character due to his personality and the humorous moments involving him (I mean, seeing Dustin theorise that the Shadow Monster was a Mind Flayer and explaining what that meant was priceless), Eleven is the character with the most depth. Her arc in Season 2 of Stranger Things proved that. We talked about the flashbacks we saw of Eleven surviving on her own in the woods which was cool. Yet, it was really the journey she took to find her mother once she knew of her existence which started this great arc.

I feel as though Eleven went through a lot of soul-searching in this season of Stranger Things and her experience when she met her mother showed this as well as what this meeting led to. Indeed, we find out that there is another girl like Eleven out there in the world and we saw her in the opening scene of this season of Stranger Things. Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) was the name of this girl and, like Eleven, she was a patient at the Hawkins Lab who escaped.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 2

Obviously, The Duffer Brothers, who are the show-runners of Stranger Things, felt that the stuff with Kali/Eight and Eleven’s journey to find her was very important because an entire episode was devoted to it. Yes, now we get to talk about the highly controversial Episode 7. Indeed, this episode has been very divisive for fans of Stranger Things and it is considered to be the weakest episode of Season 2 and the series in general.

For me, it is the weakest episode but I do not get how some people hate on this episode to the extent that they do. I still think that it is a very good episode. I really liked the punk vibe and I feel that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ will have a lot of significance in future seasons of Stranger Things. In fact, I do feel as though this episode was establishing stories that we will see next season which is a reason why ‘The Lost Sister’ was the weakest episode of Season 2.

Linnea Berthelsen as Kali/Eight in Stranger Things Season 2

Having one episode which focused on Kali and Eleven killed the momentum that was being built with the main story-line back in Hawkins. I wish that the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ had been spread out across a few episodes of Season 2. It would have been better this way rather than just having one standalone episode. If it was blended into the other story-lines, I feel as though some fans of Stranger Things would have less of an issue with this aspect of Season 2.

Season 2 of Stranger Things Ends Well

Nevertheless, the events of ‘The Lost Sister’ led Eleven to the stage where she knew that she needed to help her friends who were in a desperate situation. We saw this situation in the last two episodes of Season 2 which were fantastic. One could argue that ‘The Mind Flayer’ and ‘The Gate’ are the best ever episodes of Stranger Things. The final two episodes were tense, dramatic (Poor Bob) and they were great pay-off for the story in Season 2.

Moreover, it solidified my belief that Season 2 of Stranger Things is better than Season 1. Even the weakest elements of Season 2 were still very good and this season built upon the greatness of Season 1 while improving on the weakest point of Season 1 which was its over-reliance on 80s nostalgia.

Still, even though the end of Season 2 is a shot of the Mind Flayer looming over our characters, I do wonder how The Duffer Brothers will be able to pull-off a third season of Stranger Things. Perhaps moving away from Hawkins will benefit the show. That is why I believe Episode 7 is important in addition to the story that involved Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer).

Natalia Dyer as Nancy and Charlie Heaton as Jonathan in Stranger Things Season 2

The purpose of the mission they embarked on was to expose the government cover-up of the events of Season 1 (Justice for Barb lives on!). I believe that the success they had in doing this will have ramifications which will be explored more in Season 3. Despite my concerns about how Season 3 will be executed, I am defiant in my belief that Season 2 was a brilliant season of Stranger Things. While I do not expect Season 3 to be better than Season 2, I hope that Stranger Things continues to be great television to watch and an event which we all look forward to.

American Vandal Season 1 (Television Review) – Ridiculous Yet Gripping

American Vandal is a mockumentary television series that was made exclusively for Netflix. The show was designed to be a satire of true crime documentaries such as Making a Murderer which was also a Netflix Original. The story of American Vandal focuses on the aftermath of a high-school prank where faculty cars were vandalised with male genitalia being spray-painted on them (a great premise for a show).

Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro) is accused of committing the crime due to his reputation of being a troublesome student that does not respect authority. After an investigation, he is subsequently expelled. Yet, another investigation into the incident is launched by Peter Maldonado (Tyler Alvarez), a fellow student, who tries to find out whether Dylan was truly behind the crime.

Tyler Alvarez as Peter Maldonado and Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

My Knowledge and Expectation of American Vandal

American Vandal was a show that I had no idea was even coming to Netflix prior to its release. Then, suddenly, it was the only thing that anyone was talking about. It got universal acclaim from everyone who saw it and I could not get away from the hype. Naturally, when something gets as much praise as American Vandal did, I have to check it out. Besides, 2017 has been a pretty good year for Netflix Originals. Indeed, 13 Reasons Why, GLOW and Season 5 of House of Cards were great and I was hoping American Vandal would be the same.

My Thoughts on American Vandal

I was worried that the hype for American Vandal would lead me to be underwhelmed if I did not think the show was as brilliant as everyone else made it to be. This was far from the case. This first season of American Vandal was an absolute blast. I should be honest and say that the first episode did not blow me away but it definitely hits its stride in the second episode and it does not let up from there.

Jimmy Tatro as Dylan Maxwell in American Vandal Season 1

Throughout this whole first season of American Vandal, there were times when it was excruciatingly funny. Certain moments in this television show that stand out in terms of comedy include the mystery surrounding the “hey with two ys’ text, a discussion about Christopher Nolan’s Inception and the case against Peter Maldonado (obsession with dicks theory). There were plenty of others though, including this:

American Vandal GIF

Certainly, with American Vandal being a mockumentary, the comedy had to deliver and it does through very clever writing. Moreover, in addition to how the great script makes for some great comedy, the drama in American Vandal is very good too. Let me get this clear, the story is absolutely ridiculous but it is so engaging and gripping. I was so invested into finding out the truth about who draw the dicks and, at the same time, I found it insane that I cared so much considering the absurd premise!

The Characters of American Vandal

In terms of the characters, I would have to say that Mr. Kraz (Ryan O’ Flanagan) was one of the funniest, especially when we got some more insight into him when his Twitter profile was showcased. I also thought that Jimmy Tatro did a great job in the lead role of Dylan Maxwell. I felt that the arc that Dylan went through was a great way to showcase how shitty high-school can be. In fact, I would argue that American Vandal is, in its own way, a commentary on the high-school experience.

Ryan O' Flanagan as Mr. Kraz in American Vandal Season 1

As I said, Jimmy Tatro was great and I was extremely surprised to find out that he does not have a large filmography given how good his performance was. Still, I expect that American Vandal will be a great help to his career as an actor and, with a second season on the way, I look forward to hopefully seeing more of him in this great television show.