Last year, the film industry suffered from a string of under performing blockbusters. The problem in 2019 was oversaturation- too many films at the same time. But in 2020, it seemed studios, having learnt their lesson, spread things out a bit. We had Bond in April, Black Widow in May, Wonder Woman in June… the film calendar seemed set for the year.
Across the world, cinemas have closed, films have been delayed and productions shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. James Bond and Black Widow are two of the biggest casualties. But they’re just the start. Disney have basically cancelled their other films (including The New Mutants, which is THE most cursed film in history), Universal have released all their films online early and the film industry is losing millions by the day. It’s a situation understandably out of their control, but here’s the thing- I think Hollywood can not only recover, but use this situation as a testing ground for new means of film distribution.
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-
As we are enjoying the golden age of comic book adaptations, it’s worth remembering not every superhero property is Marvel or DC. We have the Incredibles, Hellboy, Dredd and many more making the genre interesting and diverse. Netflix’s latest smash hit (you can how much of a success a show is based on the amount of memes, which this show has lots of) The Umbrella Academy is such a property, based on the Dark Horse comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba that presents a family of super-heroic characters who are so dysfunctional the X-Men look like a perfectly functioning team in comparison.
The Defenders are no more. Yesterday Netflix announced that The Punisher and Jessica Jones were cancelled, becoming the final casualties of the Marvel purge on Netflix. Whilst many may be quick to blame Disney’s upcoming streaming service for this as far as I know the Marvel/Netflix deal had nothing to do with Disney and it appears the shows were cancelled due to low viewing figures and lack of interest from even hardcore Marvel fans. So what happened? How did what promised to be the most exciting branch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe become no more?
As a huge film buff I watch many films a year, and I’ve always intended to make a list of films I’ve seen so I can count how many I saw at the end of a year. I’ve decided to do this one month at a time, starting from January obviously, with the films being in the order I saw them. I won’t go too in depth with them, just summarise them and give my brief thoughts but hopefully I will have a wide range of titles by the end of each moth. Every film I watch counts, including films I’ve already seen. Cinema, Netflix, Sky, DVD… anything I see goes on the list. So without further ado, let’s go, forgetting the fact it’s already February 1st-
It’s no secret that Marvel rules the silver screen. With the interlocked Marvel Cinematic Universe dominating cinemas, it’s easy to forget the Marvel TV shows, especially when the films themselves do. Since 2015 Netflix has been producing shows based on Marvel comics, intended for an older audience. These shows are dark, gritty and suited to the more adult material that Netflix produces. Launching off the success of Daredevil, the Netflix shows have become a universe in their own right. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist came soon after, with The Defenders crossover and The Punisher quickly joining them. However I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that the shows are all the same- a gritty anti-hero lives in New York following “the Incident”. The first half has them slowly unravel a conspiracy with the main villain revealing themselves about halfway through and there’s a hallway fight somewhere because of course there is. There is angst, violence, flashbacks and subplots galore. I’m not saying the shows are bad (I haven’t even seen Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Punisher or The Defenders as I’m just not interested) but they are all in the same mould and to be honest, it’s getting a bit tiresome and I don’t find the heroes that interesting. Iron Fist has just been cancelled and I don’t see how the shows can survive without variety in the kind of heroes they focus on. Daredevil Season 3 comes out today, and whilst the show will continue to be outstanding, the Netflix shows as a whole need change and I have five characters who can help with that…
One of the great joys of Netflix is discovering new shows to fall in love with. Over this past summer, it’s been fantastic to watch Micheal Schur’s genius sit-com The Good Place. The premise is simple- Eleanor Shellstrop is dead, and is in “The Good Place”. This is a place where people who have done exceptionally good things in life go when they die- everyone else goes to the Bad Place. This is good news for Eleanor- except she’s not supposed to be here. She is a terrible person, and there’s clearly been a mistake. With the help of her “soulmate” Chidi and her neighbours Tahani (a rich, spoilt British philantrophist) and Jianyu (a mute Buddhist monk), Eleanor must become a better person in order to stay in The Good Place. The Good Place neighbourhood is overseen by the immortal being Micheal and assisted by the AI Janet. After the first night ends with flying shrimp in the sky, Eleanor must try and hide her secret whilst trying to earn her place in the Good Place. Hilarity ensues.