Sense8 – first impressions

Dear ladies and gents,

Sense8 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Sense8 is about eight people scattered all over the globe who all of a sudden realize they communicate with each other mentally. Obvs this is a super simple summary of the storyline, things do get more complicated. But this is the jist. The series was created by Andy and Lana Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski.

I mentioned the series briefly in my summer TV shows post.

What I don’t like:

- it’s slow. At times painfully slow. The first two episodes were a freaking slog. Sh*t all happened. But then again that’s my problem with a lot of HBO/Showtime/Netflix shows. They have the time to tell the story at their own pace. Sometimes it works (see Daredevil). And sometimes it drives me bloody mad (see Bloodline). I haven’t been driven mad as of yet.

- I was a bit worried this will turn into a Tim Kring show? You know there are all this characters and they are somehow all connected together and it makes sense for a few episodes and then it just sort of… disintegrates? That didn’t happened either.

- I am iffy on some of the concepts. I’ll preface this by saying I am biased. I saw Jupiter Ascending and was doing this for the most of the movie:

But I wanted to give this one a go. Let me give you an example without giving too much away. In the pilot Daryl Hannah gives birth to these sensates. Not like proper birth, more hm metaphysical one? So my mind immediately went to Plato and this giving-birth-to-an-idea thing? But then I was like surely (SURELY) this would be too complicated and too fancy of a concept for a TV show? Or maybe I’m just being a horrible snob? At any rate – yes, am a bit iffy on some of the concepts that crop up later on as well.

- also I expected much more freaking out over the whole I-can-mind-talk-to-people-on-the-other-side-of-the-globe thing. That and I bloody well do hope there will a pay off in the end. But that’s just me being a persnickety bish.

ALL of that said – I do like it. My mind wasn’t blown, but it’s good enough/engaging enough that I keep watching. I love that the series takes you all over the globe and that it features a truly diverse cast.

So tell me ladies and gents, has anyone seen Sense8? Any initial thoughts?

Mad Max: Fury Road – a Review

I have seen the new “Mad Max” film and it truly is mad. Undoubtedly, this pun will be made by countless other internet reviewers as well but hell, I’m not proud. Director George Miller has returned to the series after thirty years and he did it triumphantly.

In a brutal post-apocalyptic world, warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) rules over the freaks and monsters in his desert Citadel. But then Furiosa (Charlize Theron), his most trusted driver, escapes in one of the war rigs. With her she takes Joe’s most prized possessions – his wives. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) gets caught in this by sheer accident and does whatever it takes to survive.

From start to finish, “Mad Max: Fury Road” goes far beyond your average action flick. It is one giant car chase, stripping its plot and characters to the bones and keeping relentless pace throughout with just enough stops to make it all bearable. Its nightmarish visuals tell us more about the film’s world then any amount of Hollywood exposition could and characters are portrayed almost entirely through their actions. Their motivations are simple but visceral, making the stakes of this huge chase seem real in a way that stories about savingĀ  the entire world never can. Hardy is surprisingly understated in his role. He’s a stand-in for the audience, observing and reacting to the desert storm of grotesque images around him.

There are monstrous vehicles and equally monstrous men driving them. “Men” is a key word here. At first, the Kamicrazys and War Dogs of the Citadel seem in equal measure impressive and insane. But they’re so over-the-top that they turn into a parody, their posturing meaning little in a lifeless wasteland surrounding them. Powerful old men lead them to battle with the promise of eternal glory. It’s the women, running away from being treated like cattle, who ask the obvious question “Who killed the world?” with the answer being, of course, that same culture obsessed with power and death. This may not be much of a subtext – hell, it’s not even a “sub” as the question gets literally written out in the film – but it is nevertheless a subversion of the action film tropes we have grown accustomed to.

This message combined with the film’s stylistic choices and its sheer craftsmanship – many of its special effects are practical, not CGI – makes “Mad Max: Fury Road” smart and exciting entertainment. Miller knew what kind of a film he wanted to make and he did it. It isn’t a film made for everyone. In an era of blockbusters trying to please everybody, that just may be the highest praise I can write about it.

U2 busking in NYC Subway with Jimmy Fallon

Dear ladies and gents,

have you seen the video of U2 busking in the New York subway?

I’ve embedded the video for you below.

So.

Have you noticed anything? Anything that all?

Like the fact almost every single person on that platform is watching Ufreaking2 sing live through their mobile phone?

Iseriouslycannoteven.

U2 are one of the biggest bands on the planet. We can argue and disagree on many things. That they might be past it, their new stuff is not as great as their old stuff, Bono might have some w*nker-ish tendencies, whatever. But they are one of the biggest bands on the planet. Still.

I have a Facebook account. And a Twitter account. And I get the impulse to plaster a picture with Bono all over your social media, because that one “friend” you can’t stand might see it.* Bishes please! I’m not above it, is all I’m saying.

But take one picture and then put away your damn phone. Enjoy Ufreaking2 perform for you for free. Like Bono is RIGHT THERE mere meters away from you. Look at with your own eyes. And not through a freaking phone.

Jesus Christ!

So.

I have concluded two things.

a) I’m obviously old cos stuff like this annoys me.
b) We have collectively turned into a bunch of a**holes.

*On a side note – we all might do well to remember not to match our insides with everybody else’s outsides.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – a Review

If you’ve heard about “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, you pretty much know what to expect from this film even if you haven’t seen it… and you probably did, judging by its box office. The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise is spectacular, funny and occasionally dramatic – thanks to the screenplay by Joss Whedon. It’s says a lot about MCU films that, after seven years, we have come to expect a certain level of entertainment from them.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” re-unites us with a group of now-familiar heroes – from genius billionaire Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth). As if half a dozen superheroes wasn’t enough, the film introduces new characters such as telepathic/telekinetic Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and superfast Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Over them looms a new threat – artificial intelligence called Ultron (wonderfully voiced by James Spader). Built by Tony Stark to protect humanity, Ultron instead decides to follow time-honored tradition of AIs everywhere and go on a murderous rampage with an army of robots.

So much for plot. The thing is, I’ve already seen better MCU outing this year and it didn’t even play in cinemas. First season of “Marvel’s Daredevil” premiered on Netflix this April. Its gritty, small-scale story follows young lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) who, in the guise of vigilante Daredevil, fights street crime all the while wrestling with his own conscience. “Daredevil” had some of the most engaging characters I’ve seen in Marvel Cinematic Universe and featured by far its best villain – Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio).

This brought home something I’ve noticed while watching “Age of Ultron” as well some of the last year’s MCU films like “Captain America: Winter’s Soldier”. In all of them I was far more interested in small human moments of characterization then in the CGI bombast. For all the epic fights and large scale urban destruction in “Age of Ultron”, I wouldn’t mind seeing a film made entirely out of scenes like the one where guests at the party jokingly (and unsuccessfully) try to lift Thor’s hammer. It’s a bit unfair to expect that a superhero blockbuster delivers something it wasn’t really made for. But look at it this way: ten years ago I knew next to nothing about most of these characters. Marvel did such a fantastic job of introducing them that now I wouldn’t mind watching a story about their everyday lives.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is entertaining enough but after seven years the formula is beginning to feel a bit stale. How many times can we watch CGI-Earth almost getting incinerated or invaded before we get bored? To paraphrase Syndrome from “Incredibles” – And what a warm and funny superhero story that was! – once everything is amazing, then nothing is. I expect that over time this saturation with spectacle will begin to eat into ticket sales of superhero films. But, for better or worse, by that time this decade will probably be known as “Age of MCU”.