TV Binge: Deadly Class (Season 1, 2019)

Deadly Class (Season 1, 2019)

Creator: Miles Orion Feldsott & Rick Remender

Cast: Benedict Wong, Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, Maria Gabriela de Faria, Luke Tennie, Liam James, Taylor Hickson, Jack Gillett, Tom Stevens, Michel Duval, Sean Depner, Olivia Cheng

A coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of late 1980s counterculture, which follows a disillusioned teen recruited into a storied high school for assassins. – IMDB

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Remender and Wesley Craig, Deadly Class is set in the 1980s revolving around a hidden private academy called King’s Dominion which trains those skilled with assassin abilities, honing their unique and individual skills. Its with this that Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth), who is on the run for allegedly burning down the orphanage he lived in that he is recruited by Master Lin (Benedict Wong) with a little help from his trusted student Saya (Lana Condor). Not from an elite dangerous order, Marcus finds himself not truly fitting in except for a group of misfits at the school as he navigates through this new environment and embraces his own capabilities as new dangers start targeting both the school and himself personally.

Deadly Class is an interesting existence. It embraces and integrates its comic book roots as it does add in these animated sequences especially when recalling the past of the key characters with this group of friends that has bonded together due to different issues. Their back stories help explain the motives of their characters. The comic book elements down to the whole cinematographic elements of the show gives its a lot of style whether its the character designs or King’s Dominion. The whole tone of the show blends well together and is visually appealing for the most part, capturing both the environment of the school but also the grimy outside world that exists which polishes them as they go on their own “missions”.

The tone and plot point can be a little off-putting as the high school drama for the most part. Especially by the middle of Season 1 when Marcus, Maria and Saya have this very wishy washy sort of love triangle that gets a little frustrating to watch as these three take a turn in their character arcs. Much like most series, when things go bad, everything else is going bad at the same time so its all goes a little crazy which is intriguing to watch how it all unfolds since it adds in other elements that help build up the world but also adds in some annoying bits that seem beside the point especially since Marcus is a character with his own issues that also seem rather easily manipulated into certain situations. With that said, the best parts of the show is the action and assassin oriented bits when each of these characters do work together or go into some outing together to achieve something. The danger and the classes do make it all the more intriguing to navigate but at the same time, it somehow does feel like the angle being this unique school gets lost in the bigger plot. Thats not to say that the enemy isn’t decent. For the most part, its the typical mentally unstable sort of character coming for some kind of revenge but there are some outside forces that are targeting the school as well. The two together works well enough.

Looking at the cast itself, everyone fits their role fairly well. Benjamin Wadsworth plays Marcus fairly well. It does capture that teen angst and inner struggle, considering the show is mostly about him. The standout of the show absolutely goes to Benedict Wong as Master Lin who is a tough headmaster of King’s Dominion but also done in such a well-balanced way. Much like its great to see Lana Condor as Saya to be playing this Japanese yakuza’s daughter who is a femme fatale in training with her motorcycle and her katana in hand. Much like Maria portrayed by Maria Gabriela de Faria whose character is on the more frustrating side but does have a lot of ups and downs but her assassin look is really great.

Overall, Deadly Class is a pretty fun ride for its first season. The premise is pretty original and isn’t quite like other teen dramas especially with the school for assassins setting. Sure, there’s a few things that I wasn’t particularly happy about but it did have some pretty decent style. Its a little sad to see that after the great foundation it set up and the cliffhanger ending that it was cancelled for season 2.

Fantasia Festival 2018: Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Under the Silver Lake

Director (and writer): David Robert Mitchell

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Riki Lindhome, Grace Van Patten, Patrick Fischler, Jimmi Simpson, Callie Hernandez

Sam, intelligent but without purpose, finds a mysterious woman swimming in his apartment’s pool one night. The next morning, she disappears. Sam sets off across LA to find her, and along the way he uncovers a conspiracy far more bizarre. – IMDB

Following the success of indie horror It Follows, David Robert Mitchell takes his unique vision to this project Under the Silver Lake and casts Andrew Garfield as the main lead Sam. Under the Silver Lake is ambitious to say the least. There are a lot of pop culture references in there used incredibly cleverly. The filming is done very well choosing some great Los Angeles backdrops. There are injections of comic strip moments as it follows the works of an author who tells the story of “Under the Silver Lake” and other legends hidden in the city. It has some colorful and whimsical characters who cross paths with Sam and truly embrace the black comedy effectively. Finally, the most outstanding quality of this film goes to its embrace of classic Hollywood in both the way certain shots are filmed in terms of lighting and framed up to the outfits of some of the actresses.

Under the Silver Lake

With Classic Hollywood and pop culture scattered cleverly throughout this film, it is hard to not like it. Except it also is easy to get a little lost because as offbeat as the story is meant to be, it lingers on feeling almost disjointed. Sam goes on this journey that almost feels like a lazy unambitious young man falling into his own version of Alice in Wonderland. His journey takes him from one set piece to the next with parties, cemetery screenings, secret tunnels amd even secluded mansions with an old man who claims he created all the most popular tunes of the last few decades. Oddly in this journey, as much as Andrew Garfield delivers a decent performance, Sam is honestly pretty unamusing to watch. It is hard to be invested in a movie where the main character is a focal point that we spend all the time from his point of view on this surreal journey and there never feels like a sense of investment. Even the moments of danger, usually end in some form of black comedy resolution and it never feels like he is in peril. On top of that, the audience might be the only person that questions why he gets into all these fancy parties when he goes there all scruffy and in simple t-shirts and even pyjamas. It is hard to root for someone who we can’t even see the appeal that all these lovely ladies seem to just see some charm in. Except there are hints also that Sam isn’t a shallow character and at parts, there is a hint of the sense of failure he feels and even the mask he puts on as he hides away the truth about his unambitious life and the regrets.

Under the Silver Lake

At the end of the day, Under the Silver Lake is a slow-paced ambitious piece of cinema. Its unique and surrealistic dive into the whimsical underbelly of Los Angeles has its charm but it isn’t going to be for everyone. Especially when the story itself feels disjointed and most of all, the main character is pretty unamusing to watch and there is no reason to fight for his search because at certain points it feels like even the story makes him forgets what was the main goal in the first place. Perhaps if you squint between the lines, Under the Silver Lake embodies a tale about the society and the lack of sense of direction in life and ambition and it just takes one little thing to change it all around and find motivation and commitment. For this one, maybe its ambition affected its overall storytelling just a little bit.  

The review was also posted on That Moment In.