TV Binge: Stranger Things (Season 1, 2016)

We FINALLY saw Stranger Things and not to mention, properly binge watched it over our week off from work. It only took us maybe two sittings to get through it all and that is a compliment to it. Whenever we turned it off, we’d always keep wanting to go back to see what happens. That is what makes a good show. But a lot of you already know that since I think we may be the only people in the world with Netflix that hasn’t seen it yet. However, this also gives us an advantage to not have such a long wait for Season 2.

Stranger Things (Season 1, 2016)

Stranger Things

Creator: Matt Duffer & Ross Duffer

Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp

When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back. – IMDB

I’m going to admit that I put off watching Stranger Things because I tend to avoid watching things when they are mega hyped up. Almost anything that you go in with the expectation of it being the best thing ever made is going to somehow disappoint with a few rare exceptions, I’d say. I can’t say that Stranger Things is the best show in the world because I can think of a few that I’d probably rank before just for its entertainment value and how I get immersed into it but Stranger Things is definitely an awesome show. Its one that will have its creepy moments but at the same time offer thrills at every corner. It also helps that the cast and story and atmosphere is incredibly charming and wonderfully crafted. What deserves a lot of credit for this film is not only the physical town they are in with its mysterious government facility closed to the public but also the way they utilize the area around it from the forest to every backdrop for the show. The setting creates a lot of it and of course its effective use of building up the Upside Down and how they implemented the use of lights.

Stranger Things

I have no idea where to even start with this write-up so lets just start with our stars: The kids or are you really called The Losers (like in IT?) Anyways, details that I can’t remember because I’m really bad at remembering things like that. However, they were fantastic. Of course, Will (played by Noah Schnapp) wasn’t really there for most of the series as he was the one kidnapped but the other kids here are great, especially seeing that they were able to give them distinct personalities and how they are very cool (and nerdy) with their Dungeons and Dragons match at the beginning, which gave us a good feeling of who these kids were. They are such colorful characters and their naivety in dealing with this situation really helped them feel like they were kids faced with something way over their heads and had to find the courage to figure it out and help their friend out. And here’s where we meet Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown who doesn’t have a lot of dialogue but carries her role proficiently. Eleven is possibly one of my favorite characters of Stranger Things because of where she starts and her story, she also has a lot of character development and you all know, I’m a sucker for that.

Stranger Things

Looking to the teens, we have Nancy, played by Natalia Dyer. I’ve seen her before in a movie called I Believe In Unicorns and you can check out the review HERE. She did great there as well. Something about Nancy here makes her also a fantastic character with a lot of development. When she starts, you see her be that nerdy girl who just loves being liked by the popular crowd at school. She seems to forget who she is but somehow in the process of trying to find her best friend who disappears, she teams up with an unpopular character, Jonathan (played by Charlie Heaton) and sparks a somewhat triangle (but not) relationship alongside her boyfriend Steve. This group also being very compelling to watch as they all find growth in their characters and are each great in their own ways. Natalia however does take it away with her awesome acting and how she finds that courage to be pretty badass by the end of the season.

Stranger Things

And then we have the adults. Before we move on, here is where the magic also is for the show to be able to find characters to like for every age group. The adults were equally strong. Winona Ryder plays a powerful mom who is dedicated and believes that her son is still in danger and that he isn’t dead no matter what she sees in front of her. She might sound crazy but she has to do what she has to do to bring her son back and those moments are some of the most intense especially as she find s way to communicate with Will. Alongside the adult crew is the sheriff, played by David Harbour. If we were to talk about a tough guy, David Harbour is a great sheriff, one with a painful story as well that they touched on slightly. However, while he had some softer moments, he also had some great one-liners and it worked so well with his role. Being movie goers, we’re cynical about many things and at times, we even question our characters actions and Sheriff Jim Hopper makes some crazy decisions at times for the investigation and truly has us at the edge of our seat as he pieces everything together.

Overall, Season 1 of Stranger Things does have it all pretty well. It has the dark creepy atmosphere and a fantastic and mysterious world created. The cast is fantastic from the kids to the teens to the adults who all deliver strong roles. While certain roles had more character development than others, it is important to realize that this is TV and not just a movie, so what isn’t done here could most possibly be continued on and focused on in the second season. The beauty of watching TV series is the ability to tell a story that can keep a good pacing but still leave room for the story to expand and/or go deeper into its world and lore. Suffice to say, this was a refreshing experience and we’re looking forward to season 2 which releases in just a few days!

Advertisements

TV Binge: Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 1, 2016)

Its time to take a little break from all the movie reviews to get a little TV Binge in.

Actually, full disclosure that I actually finished this show like 2 months ago. I still remember a great deal of it and know how I feel about it so its really just procrastinating to write it up, thats all. However, at a certain point, it was bumped till end of September and I was like, lets just slot it into October since it fits the theme, plus kind of gives the overlap from last year’s marathon of Evil Dead franchise to this one. If you missed those reviews, I have them all linked up in the horror marathon page up in the movies section on the menu above.

Let’s check it out!

Ash vs. Evil Dead [Season 1, 2015]

ash vs evil dead

Creator: Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi & Tom Spezialy

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, Jill Marie Jones

Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope. – IMDB

As usual, I’m late to the Evil Dead party even when it comes to a TV series thats released when I’m covering TV shows on the blog. I’ve had a rocky relationship with the Evil Dead franchise no matter how much my husband likes it a ton. It might be one of those rare franchise loves which grows more as it moves further into the franchise that Army of Darkness is so much fun and Bruce Campbell does such an entertaining Ash that I can’t help but just really enjoy that film a lot. With that said, Ash vs. Evil Dead is absolutely more of the Army of Darkness ton and builds on that really awesome Ash which has that humor as he gets really wreckless or tries to run away and not accept of the damage he has done by getting drunk and releasing the Deadite by playing around with the Necronomicon. He’s a fool and yet we just love him with all his chainsaw and shotgun glory.

Ash vs Evil Dead

With that said, the show grasps a lot of what the franchise was about to replicate it into a story for TV series. I can’t say that the story itself is really engaging. Its more wrapped up in creating moments but that was really was the movies felt like to me so it felt like it really nails on a lot of those notes to just make it a fun, blood splatter-filled show full of witty  humor and charming characters and lots of Deadites and some silly effects although it seems this one does have more budget so they look similar but with believable over the top effects.

ash vs evil dead

On the terms of characters, Bruce Campbell does a fine job at capturing his role of Ash and manages to give it a lot of life and just really have a lot of fun with it. Its always entertaining to watch him play this role. In this series, he ends up picking up two younger companions, Pablo and Kelly. Pablo is played by Ray Santiago who is this silly character that really is very loyal and pure-hearted. His naivety is quite refreshing to have especially because he likes Kelly a lot, who doesn’t quite seem to reciprocate those feelings completely, at least for the most part. Looking over the other companion, Kelly played by Dana DeLorenzo, she is a very fun bad-ass girl and honestly, there’s some great moments especially when she’s wielding weapons and holding her own.

ash vs evil dead

On the other hand, we have the story going on about Ruby, who is played by Lucy Lawless (which my husband recognized right away from Xena, which I’ve never seen) who plays somewhat of the sinister character here who seems to be hiding some secret motives. She’s pretty bad-ass as well. Its an interesting character altogether mostly because she brings in the plot of the season.

Overall, Ash vs. Evil Dead is pretty cool. Its fun and entertaining. It tries to bring in the moments from the Evil Dead franchise and it works really well. Bruce Campbell still has it down for his role in Ash and its really nice to see his rag tag team of Kelly and Pablo who are very awesome as well. While I have to say that the story could be a little more and not everything really does come together (or I’m just missing something), there are enough cool moments and great one-liners to make it totally worth your time, especially if you are a fan of the franchise.

Have you seen Ash vs. Evil Dead?

TV Binge: Scream Queens (Season 1, 2015)

In the spirit of Halloween, it was time for some TV Binge horror. Well, in this case, horror comedy. Scream Queens has been doing incredibly well and in its Season 2 so I figured that its fresh launch on Netflix meant it was time for me to give it a go! With a cast full of people I like a ton, I can’t imagine not enjoying it. But then, I also know nothing about the story or what its about. That does seem like a trend I’m having of late. It is also probably why I haven’t watched Stranger Things yet because there is just so much talk about it with some phenomenal comparisons. However, we are here to talk about the first season of Scream Queens.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Scream Queens (Season 1, 2015)

Scream Queens

 Creators: Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy

Cast: Emma Roberts, Skyler Samuels, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Jamie Lee Curtis, Keke Palmer, Billie Lourd, Glen Powell, Diego Boneta, Oliver Hudson, Niecy Nash, Nasim Pedrad

A semi-anthology series that centers on returning characters being terrorized by a serial killer in different locations, including a university and a hospital. –IMDB

Season one of Scream Queens is set at a university and the focus is with the sorority house Kappa Kappa Tau. It is quite hard to pinpoint how I actually feel about Scream Queens. For starters, it has a lot happening every episode but somehow each episode does feel quite slow and long. Scream Queens has a weird sort of humor that sometimes works and sometimes just induces eye-rolling. However, it does have an outstanding cast. I love a ton of the characters here probably even more than the story it is trying to tell. That doesn’t mean that at times, there are some nice tension-building near the end, but also a good bit of manipulative or guided scenes particularly in the end. A part of it is figuring out whether some decisions would have worked as it is better or if they had did various reveals in the first half a little more slowly which takes away the final unveil of who the Red Devil is and what the story behind it all is. I was happy to make it through the series and it was a sigh of relief to finish it. I’m happy to keep going with Season 2 but after a little break since it is a little harder to get into the story here.

Scream Queens

As much as Chanel and her minions of Chanels called by numbers are really exaggerated portrayal of what rich sorority girls are, that play is sometimes fun. However, they are sometimes quite ridiculous and awkward. The cast is spectacular. I personally love Emma Roberts and she takes the role as Chanel incredibly well. Billie Lourd is rather unknown except for her role in Star Wars 7 (which probably you all may know her from there) and I really enjoyed her as Chanel #3. She plays the emotionless girl with a weird background and hidden secret and at times, it comes off genuinely hilarious and she never laughs so it makes it even more fun. While Abigail Breslin is one of the actresses I like a lot, more when she did her younger roles and because she has less roles nowadays, this is something I look forward to seeing her as Chanel #5 grow. New addition fairly early in the group is a pledge from Hester, played by Lea Michele, who is the typical girl with neck brace and all (reminds me of one of The House Bunny’s character) and she is completely different from her role in Glee. In this one, she comes off rather creepy because of her obsession of death.

Scream Queens

In terms of characters, I truly liked a ton was the new pledges to the sorority and it takes a while to enjoy the main characters of a show but funnily for not enjoying the pace of a series, the main girl Grace, played by Skyler Samuels was one I liked a lot. She’s tough and smart but at times, very clueless about who to trust and not trust. One of my favorite scenes are above. If anything, I liked it even more when she was with Pete, played by Diego Boneta, who is someone I haven’t seen since his small roles in 90210. Hopefully, he’ll have more TV or movie roles eventually. While he has quite the potential to be a great actor, the fact that he can sound and even looks a little like Matthew McConaughey may be what makes it harder to succeed. However, I loved his role here. He plays as the investigative journalist who is researching the Red Devil killings and a big secret of Kappa Kappa Tau. Keke Palmer is also one of the more dynamic characters here. Talking about awkward, we can’t not mention Jamie Lee Curtis who I questioned as to why she took this silly project on as the Dean of the university. But man, is she a fantastic actress and does the role so well. In fact, she may be one of the more dangerous characters in the season and doesn’t even need a mask because she is smarter than that.

Scream Queens

The most ridiculous and somewhat pun-y and awkward people has to go to the sorority boys collectively called the Dickie Dollar Scholars. Oddly, none of them go to class just like a ton of the girls don’t either probably. These guys are just stupid and it makes it more fun to laugh at how silly they are, and I mean every single one of them. The leader of the crowd is Chad, played by Glen Powell, who is quite the douchebag. Funnily enough, he never is the target, probably because he is too stupid to be one but that adds some extra fun. One of the best scenes has to be that one up there as a Backstreet Boys song plays and they are somewhat acting out what the music video would be like or at least reminisces. And that actually sums up what I feel is entertaining about Scream Queens when it reminisces on some very great movies. In the sorority houses, there is even a hint of Mean Girls there with all the not eating and the extreme abuse to the other sisters in the house.

Scream Queens

Like I said in the beginning, I think the character designs here are entertaining to watch. However, the flow of the story had its issues. One of the other issues I had was the Red Devil, our killer of this season. It also is one of the main things of slasher flicks that gets me sometimes, at least the not so well done ones. The Red Devil is a creepy character with the mask and the entire costume and it being the university mascot and all that. It can get through here and there and actually is quite stealthy. However, the issue with the Red Devil is that the secret killer itself becomes somewhat apparent near the last quarter. On top of that, the last scenes make too much of an effort to keep whoever is hiding mysterious. It goes a little too coerced (that is the best way I can say).

Overall, Scream Queens is good. Its a little tough to get into but the characters are constructed rather well even if they take a while to love even with all their flaws. The best moments are those that reminisce on 90s pop culture. The Red Devil is effective in some parts but always feels a little too deliberate. In many ways, perhaps Scream Queens is supposed to be a little over the top to mock the slasher horror genre a little while still having some creepy moments.

Have you seen Scream Queens Season 1? What are your thoughts?

My Newest TV Addiction: Dollhouse

Also, the reason for the lack of movie reviews lately…

It seems that TV series binging has done me no good. Before it was 90210. Now, its Dollhouse….

dollhouse tv

Last week, I decided to start watching Dollhouse. Some of you may know because I posted about it briefly in one of my weekend posts HERE.  I just finished Season 1 and then after some debate, continued on with Season 2 last night. There is only two seasons, so I’ll be done soon enough.

Right now, I’m deciding between praising Joss Whedon and punching him in the face for causing me to dream and think constantly of the show.  The questions revolving in my head especially after that Epitaph Part 1. Apparently, I read that that episode was added on afterwards and only on the DVDs. I don’t know, anyways, Netflix has it as the final episode in Season 1.  Seriously, if you saw Dollhouse and you didn’t see that episode, I’m telling to go check it out because its really amazing.  Adds this amazing story and (extra) meaning to the whole series. There is a lot to think about with the concept of letting technology go too far or playing God.

Dollhouse cast

Dollhouse cast

The Dollhouse itself was already a pretty crazy idea but man, to think what the possibility of a future with some crazy technology is totally out of the world.  I don’t want to go all spoilers just in case you’re in that same boat as me and haven’t seen this.  I know that I’d hate it if someone starts telling me what happens.

As much as the main girl playing Echo is super awesome and kick ass, a good part of the story revolves not only around her but the other “dolls”.  However, as much as the dolls themselves have their own story mostly connected to their past, I think the people running the Dollhouse is what makes this super cool.  This is what makes it so addictive because every character develops in their own way, better or worse.  My absolute favorite is the character of Topher Brink.

Topher Brink (actor: Fran Kranz)

Topher Brink (actor: Fran Kranz)

 

Imagine your superior telling you this about the reason you get hired

dollhouse gif

Adelle[to Topher] The cold reality is that everyone here was chosen because their morals have been compromised in some way. Everyone, except you. You, Topher, were chosen because you had no morals. You have always thought of people as playthings.

Thats pretty harsh.  Topher’s character development is definitely the most interesting to me.  A person with no morals has so much room to grow, right? Anyways, that Epitaph episode really makes you wonder about what happens to him specifically…

I’m sure tons of you recognize him but this guy was in Cabin in the Woods.  Its making want to pull that out to watch soon…maybe I’ll review it after I finish this 🙂

Everyone else has its place and it just fascinates me how Dollhouse story was written so well.  Its hard to find series where everyone has an important part to the turnout of the series.

Maybe I’m overthinking a lot but I just find there’s so much to look forward to in this.

I’m at Season 2 Episode 4.  Now that I’m feeling less guilty about posting much, I’ll head back to watching it 🙂

Hopefully I’ll have a few posts drafted for tomorrow….something a bit more meaningful..