Sooo, I’m an idiot and accidentally published the Stranger Things 3 review literally a day after my Spider-Man one so we got two reviews in a row. Well, it’s been a over a week since the last review so it’s once again time to dive into my totally-not-messed-up-at-this-point Month of Reviews and take a look at the Good Omens mini-series that debuted on Amazon Prime earlier this year. Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the mini-series has been making waves due to its fun story, unique mythology and amazing dynamic between series leads David Tennant and Michael Sheen. As a huge fan of Gaiman’s work and as someone who wants to get into Pratchett, this series was a must watch for me. That plus the “Doctor Who effect*” was put into effect and I just had to check this out. Not only is Good Omens hilarious and unique, it’s also intelligent and ingeniously written in its perfectly paced six episodes.
Ben’s Month of Reviews continues with one of my most anticipated events of the year- the arrival of a new season of Stranger Things. Yes, I was late to the hype train (I began watching April last year to be precise) but I love this show. It made David Harbour into one of my all time favourite actors, got me on my current Stephen King reading binge (his novels, particularly It and Firestarter, are huge influences on the show) and finally pursuaded me get a Netflix account that introduced me to other shows I love such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Castlevania and has greatly helped me with the amount of films I watch. It also really really made me want to live in the 80’s to the extent I have now seen more 80’s films that is humanly possible, including many with the veteran Stranger Things actors such as Winona Ryder, Sean Astin and Cary Elwes. If you’re wondering why my monthly film lists consist of so many odd 80’s films and kid’s films such as The Goonies, blame Stranger Things. So yeah, this little show about a group of kids in the world’s unluckiest town has made quite a big impact on me. Not since Doctor Who had I become so obsessed with a show so quickly. For comparison, it took me a couple of episodes to get passionate about Firefly and roughly half a season to “get” Rick and Morty. With Stranger Things, it only took the gorgeous opening synth titles. No one agrees with me, but I thought Stranger Things 2 was the better season- the first was iconic yes, but Season 2 had the best Hopper writing, Dad Steve and Sean Astin. I spent last Thursday binging the entirety of Season 3 and because everyone’s seen it let’s go full spoilers here. Although if you still haven’t seen it yet, in brief- it’s good. Very very good. With that said, let’s dive into Hawkins with all the juicy details-
July will be Ben’s Month of Reviews. Whilst I am currently on holiday (in York en route to Edinburgh to be precise), thanks to the magic of the Internet I am still able to write a whole bunch of reviews for recent fandom properties I’ve seen recently. First up, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, the second solo Tom Holland film and a film that features the big screen debut of one of Marvel’s coolest villains, Mysterio. How does it stack up? One of the best sequel’s Marvel’s ever done.
It took me a bit longer to read through the latest Skulduggery Pleasant instalment, not the fault of the book itself but due to my exams. Now that they’ve been over and done with, I can finally discuss the brilliant twelfth instalment of the Skulduggery Pleasant saga. Oh boy, what a book this is. At nearly 600 pages this is an epic book and not a word is wasted. Derek Landy crams so much in this book it is quite an achievement. Without further ado, let’s dive into this beast-
Last week saw the release of Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam, the twelfth book in the greatest fantasy series of all time. In 2017 I did a series of posts going through each Phase 1 Skulduggery Pleasant book and describing them all, and in Part Three I promised to go in-depth into my favourite book in the series, Kingdom of the Wicked, and look at why it’s my favourite. Well, today is the day I explain my reasoning, as the seventh book in the series is still the high point of the saga in my opinion. When I last talked about this book I went spoiler free, but now, the gloves are off. Let’s dive into this masterpiece spoilers and all.
I didn’t just watch that film (you know the one) this month. I made good use of my Easter holiday to check out some famous, and not so famous, films.
The Silence of the Lambs
Had I seen it before? No.
How did I watch it? Netflix
Famous for being the only horror film to ever win Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs is an iconic film for so many reasons, chiefly the spine-tingling performance of Anthony Hopkins as the immortal Hannibal Lecter. And no, I will not say he is the lead actor, he is a supporting actor. A well deserved Oscar in the wrong category. The lead character is Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling, an phenomenal film hero who stands up to the most disturbed minds on the planet and still survives. The film is a masterpiece of pacing, writing,acting and directing and nearly thirty years on it still has such a strong impact and effect. The film is primarily a psychological battle of wits between Lecter and Starling, with the two trying to one-up each other at every turn, resulting in riveting viewing. Even though I know a lot of the twists and turns the film still gripped me, which is a credit to the talents of Jonathan Demme. His use of close ups and shot composition have gone down in film history and he masterfully directs the extended sequences of Lecter and Starling talking to each other to create some of the most intense dialogue scenes of all time. This film deserves every award it ever got and more. It’s truly spectacular.
Eleven years ago a film by an untested studio, directed by an indie director with a star who was no longer seen as bankable and based on an obscure comic book character from a company that went bankrupt a decade before was released. From this singular film came the biggest, most ambitious and risky endeavour ever put to film- make Marvel comics cool to the mainstream. Obviously Blade, the X-Men and Spider-Man were all successful but Iron Man kickstarted a decade of interconnected films, bringing obscure comics into the mainstream and changed Hollywood forever. All this leading to the Endgame. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is my generation’s Star Wars, and the hype and anticipation for Endgame has been unprecedented, eclipsing even that of Return of the King and Deathly Hallows Part 2. In my lifetime, only The Force Awakens had this much riding on it. Was it worth the wait? Was Infinity War too high of a bar?
In short.. Endgame surpasses expectations. It is the perfect ending for this journey that started with Iron Man. It’s three hours long but is perfectly paced, never dull and an experience that has to be seen on as big of a screen as possible. Watching this film with a group of Marvel obsessed friends, at midnight, surrounded by a full cinema, in 3D is an experience I will never forget. It is my favourite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I will have to watch it a couple more times to see if it reaches the heights of my Holy Trinity of Comic Book films (Batman Returns, Spider-Man 2 and Logan if you’re interested).
One of my favourite characters is Hellboy, created in 1994 by Mike Mignola. A demon born in the pits of Hell to destroy mankind, Hellboy (or “Red” to his friends) rejects his purpose and instead dedicates his life fighting demons and other paranormal threats. He joins the BRPD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) and leads a squad of other magical beings to defend humanity. I love the comics, but I wouldn’t have read them had I not seen the films by Guillermo del Toro first. With the reboot coming out (I will give my thoughts on it at the end of the post), now would be a great time to look back on the two films, and why they remain one of the best adaptations from a comic book.
The character of Shazam- sorry, Captain Marvel, no not that one… whatever, is a long and complex one. The character who is mostly known as Shazam predates the creation of modern day DC and Marvel. In 1939 Fawcett Comics conceived the character as, ironically, a rival to Superman. In fact, Captain Marvel was given a film in 1941. In response to the adventures of the Marvel family outselling the Man of Steel, Action Comics chose to first sue then eventually join forces, with DC Comics buying Captain Marvel in the 70’s. Unable to use the name due to obvious reasons, his comic book was renamed Shazam! and his backstory altered, giving the character more distinction from Superman. Within mainstream continuity he was still referred to as Captain Marvel due to Marvel’s Captain Mar-Vell having been killed off. The New 52 relaunch in 2011 however officially christened the character Shazam after Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, and no one but the die-hard fans know DC even HAD a Captain Marvel. So that’s the backstory. And as I said in my Captain Marvel review, there is no need to compare the films. They are completely different films with two very different characters.
With Endgame just around the corner, one key Marvel character has yet to be introduced- Carol Danvers. A very long and complicated comic book history including an alien who dies of cancer , a period in a coma when Rogue of the X-Men steals her powers, multiple identities and a long stint with the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Carol Danvers FINALLY became Captain Marvel only recently in the comics, leaving her former moniker of Ms Marvel to be inherited by Kamala Khan. Carol Danvers is one of Marvel’s most high profile and important female characters and no matter what the comics are trying to do to her (Civil War II? Really?) the fact remains that a film with this awesome character is long overdue. The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does an excellent job streamlining the insane and convoluted backstory of the character into an accessible film and the result is a really fun time at the cinema that leaves you wanting more. And with Captain Marvel set to appear back on our screens in just over a month’s time, it’s great that her solo film has given audiences a taste of what Thanos will be feeling.