Run! And Fear the Walking Dead (trailers + poster)

(image via Indiewire (c) AMC)
(image via Indiewire (c) AMC)

 

SNAPSHOT
The series will star Cliff Curtis (Missing, Gang Related), Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, Sons of Anarchy), Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) and Alycia Debnam Carey (Into the Storm). It will take place far away from the Atlanta, Georgia setting of The Walking Dead in the streets of Los Angeles, amid the early days of the infection.

Series creator Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert from The Walking Dead are executive producers of the new series, which is being produced by AMC Studios. Dave Erickson (Marco Polo, Sons of Anarchy), who co-created and co-wrote the pilot with Kirkman, is an executive producer and showrunner. Adam Davidson will direct the pilot episode.

Among the many questions that have preoccupied the minds of fan of The Walking Dead since it’s premiered five eventful, bloodthirsty, undead seasons ago is how it did begin, what caused it and will a decent barber/hairdresser ever join Rick’s group so they can get decent haircuts every once in a while?

The third question seemed to find some resolution in the Alexandria Safe Zone (ASZ) in season 5 when everyone in Rick’s bedraggled group of survivors got cleaned up, had their dirty locks shorn, and were dressed up in pretty, new clean clothes.

Answers to the first two questions have proved more elusive however.

Until now … well partially.

While Robert Kirkman is adamant he has no plans to reveal what caused the zombie outbreak that has so devastated life as everyone knew it, new series Fear the Walking Dead promises to show us the beginning of the end of the world in all its civilisation-falling-apart-at-the-seams horror.

Focusing on one family, we will see how reports of a “flu virus” gradually give way to something far more awful and terrifying, a scenario so beyond anyone’s experience that people struggle to react in any kind of meaningful way at best.

Except of course to try to survive, which is what we see Nick Curtis (Frank Dillane) doing in spectacularly fleet-footed fashion as he runs from an unseen pursuer, who might be human – it won’t take long for Lord of the Flies everyone for themselves rule to kick into high gear so a very much alive attacker is a real possibility – or frighteningly, most definitely not.

Either way, there’s a lot more to worry about in this brave, new, wrecked world than paying your bills and catching the morning train, and as the poster – which plays on everyone’s fear of scary things lurking at the end of darkened corridors – and teaser trailer attest, you would do well to Fear the Walking Dead.

Fear the Walking Dead premieres August 2015.

 

 

Whistle while you work: Todrick Hall sings his way through Disney’s musical catalogue

Todrick Hall sings his glorious way through The Evolution of Disney (Image via YouTube (c) Todrick Hall)
Todrick Hall sings his glorious way through The Evolution of Disney (Image via YouTube (c) Todrick Hall)

 

If you’re a parent, or frankly anyone closely related to or looking after a child under five – guilty as charged; I’m the happy uncle to four adorable nieces and nephews – there is a better than average chance the only song that has been lodged in your earworm since about Christmas 2013 is Frozen’s stellar centrepiece song “Let It Go”.

There is of course a very good reason for that – it’s a beautifully-written, Academy Award- worthy song that literally hits all the right notes and then some; but if you have watched more than one Disney film, and again, given how much kids love to watch multiple movies multiple times, there’s a better than average chance you have, then you’ll know how many brilliant songs Disney has in its extensive musical repertoire.

And now one very talented entertainer, Texan Todrick Hall, who first came to prominence in 2010 when he appeared on the ninth season of American Idol where he reached the semi finals, and now works on Broadway as well creating viral YouTube videos, has brought together a dizzying array of those songs in a medley that takes you through what he has termed The Evolution of Disney.

Kicking off with “Whistle While You Work” from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and ending with, you guessed it, “Let It Go” from Frozen, he sings his way with every bit as much animation and joie de vivre as any of Disney’s beloved animated characters through all the songs you know, and the kids in your life love (go on, admit, like me, you do as well).

It’s bright, colourful, fun viewing, made all the more wonderful by the way Hall interacts seamlessly with the four filmed versions of himself that make up each shot, reminding us all the way why Disney is the master of animated and the incandescently catchy songs that go with them.

 

Z For Zachariah: Love and lust in a time of apocalypse

(image via Hitfix)
(image via Hitfix)

 

SNAPSHOT
In the wake of a nuclear war, a young woman survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the proverbial last woman on earth, until she discovers the most astonishing sight of her life: another human being. A distraught scientist, he’s nearly been driven mad by radiation exposure and his desperate search for others. A fragile, imperative strand of trust connects them. But when a stranger enters the valley, their precarious bond begins to unravel. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

You could be forgiven for thinking that humanity as a whole is really jonesing for the world to end, and to end very soon.

Our current fascination, some might say obsession, with zombie apocalypses, virulent epidemics, climatic disasters, alien invasions and nuclear annihilation might suggest a hankering for the civilisation’s quick and dramaticallu-potent demise.

Lest you think that this is a recent thing, you may want to harken back to the Biblical book of Revelation, or the ancient Egyptians obsession with world-ending vampiric pestilence or Ragnarök, the idea that a great battle will end with the submersion of the world in water.

Or if you don’t want to venture too far back, you could start with Z For Zachariah, a posthumously-published novel by the family of Robert C. O’Brien (real name Robert Leslie Conly), which focused on one young girl alone in a verdant valley, the last outpost of the world that once was.

Cocooned in this perfect world within a ruined world, religious Ann is joined by a mysterious radiation-suited stranger, an atheist named Loomis, and all looks well, and a whole lot less lonelier, until things go pear-shaped as is the way of apocalyptic things.

 

In the film version of the book, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, she is joined by not one but two other people, complicating things even further for the young survivor, and amping up the tension still further.
Far more than a simple love triangle, it is an exploration of what happens when humanity, even at the end of the world when the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, can’t quite shake off the lesser angels of its nature.
While most reviewers have noted, including Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist that it is not a perfect movie:
“Easily Zobel’s most accomplished work with a self-assured simplicity that marks every frame, Z For Zachariah is nevertheless still uneven. Its craft can be impressive: Zobel’s film possesses a searing, slow burn tone that’s beautifully controlled. The movie is admirably patient and gives breathing room and space for these relationships to bloom believably and organically. But the build to a climax is far too slow and with little emotional payoff.”
It nevertheless looks intriguing for me to give it a go, emotionally-uncertain payoffs be damned.
After all, the world has ended – you can’t expect perfection can you?
OK well maybe you can with a film about the end of the world, but there looks to be enough going for Z For Zachariah to at least see what happens when humanity’s fate rests on the three last people left on Earth.
Z For Zachariah, which premiered at Sundance in January 2015, opens in USA on 21 August.

 

 

Cookie Monster hungrily handles a giant edible dinosaur in Sesame Street’s Jurassic Park parody

(image via YouTube (c) Childrens' Television Workshop)
(image via YouTube (c) Childrens’ Television Workshop)

 

Technology is a marvellous thing isn’t it?

It gives us the power to speak to a friend far away in an instant, or even fly quickly to see them, allows us to cure disease, throw together a dazzling, motivational Powerpoint presentation on a whim … and yes, create giant rampaging cookie dinosaurs from prehistoric crumbs trapped in amber …

Wait … wait … what what?!

You heard me, or read me rather, thanks to the power of advanced scientific-ness and a damn good oven, it’s possible to whip up a walking, talking, lumbering edible dinosaur who may or may be out to eat you (he could, if you’re paying attention, be after something else entirely).

Which is exactly what Cookie Monster does until one day in Jurassic Cookie as the rampaging and the lumbering kick into top gear, and he wonders how he can stop this beast conjured up from ancient slivers of butter, eggs and sugar.

The only trouble is, the warning sign, which gives clear instructions on what to do in the case of an emergency, has had most of its final word chomped off, leaving only a tantalising letter “H” behind.

What could it all mean for a Jeep-driving ancient cookie-summoning mogul and his grandchildren (yes Cookie Monster has progeny of his progeny in this hilarious number) and will they figure out what to do in time?

Quite a bit in fact, and of course, yes, since this is one of Sesame Street‘s enormously clever, very funny pop culture parodies, which are thankfully legion, this time taking the educational mickey out of Jurassic Park as its more modern successor Jurassic World storms its way to box office domination.

It could be that all you need is something reasonably warm and cuddly rather than all that newfangled technology but then you’ll have to watch this brilliantly entertaining video to find out.

 

Wanna Rock the Kasbah with Bill Murray? Of course you do!

(image via Screenrelish)
(image via Screenrelish)

 

SNAPSHOT
Rock The Kasbah is the story of Richie Lanz, a rock manager with a golden ear and a taste for talent, who has seen better times. When he takes his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan, she gets cold feet and leaves him penniless and without his passport in Kabul. While trying to find his way home, Richie befriends a band of misfits and discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice.

Against all odds, Richie will take his last shot at creating an unlikely superstar. (official synopsis via Screenrelish)

So what would you do if you suddenly found yourself alone in a war torn country, penniless and without purpose, with your last client, a vomit-prone singer played by Zooey Deschanel, nowhere to be seen?

Well if you’re Richie Lanz, played with customary out there comedic zeal, and not a little pathos by the legendary Bill Murray, you would do everything you could to recover the situation, realising this is likely your last chance to make of anything of your hitherto less than stellar life.

And Lanz, judging from the trailer, appears to go hard at it pushing cultural envelopes left, right and centre, convinced he is in Afghanistan, a country better known for derailing the best laid plans of men than aiding and abetting them, by fate.

Quite what fate is he isn’t sure but he knows he must keep searching until he finds it, which is how he happens across an unstoppable talented singing force heading in the other direction, a young female singer played by Leem Lubany, who is determined to make her mark on TV singing competition Afghan Star.

Together they might just be able to make each other’s thoroughly conventional dreams come true in the most unconventional of ways.

Given it’s a movie about the music industry, there is as much music as there is comedy, as Rolling Stone quite neatly points out:

“Toward the end of the trailer, he performs a spirited – if out-of-tune – a cappella version of Deep Purple’s brooding anthem ‘Smoke on the Water.’ In keeping with the theme, the clip incorporates other classic rock tracks like David Bowie’s ‘Rebel Rebel’ and Harry Nilsson’s ‘Jump Into the Fire.'”

With a script by the enormously funny Mitch Glazer, who penned the very funny Murray classic, Scrooged, Rock the Kasbah looks like being one of, if not the, must see comedy film of the year.

Rock the Kasbah opens on 23 October 2015 in USA.

 

Goofy gets his motoring Jekyll and Hyde on in the 1950 animated short Motor Mania

(image via Wikipedia (c) Disney)
(image via Wikipedia (c) Disney)

 

Goofy has always been my favourite Disney character.

There’s something incredibly appealing about his innate, well, goofiness, an innocent, fun likeability that makes him somehow more relatable for me than say Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck.

First appearing in Mickey’s revue in 1932, Goofy, described by the good folks at Wikipedia, as “a tall, anthropomorphic dog, and typically wears a turtle neck and vest, with pants, shoes, white gloves, and a tall hat originally designed as a rumpled fedora” is often a few kilos short of a full bag of puppy chow but he is no less loveable for that.

I would in fact argue, as a lifelong Goofy fan who fell in love with his adventures on The Wonderful World of Disney TV programme, that this increases his appeal since he seems all the more down to earth and hilariously normal as a result of not being as whippet smart as his fellow Disney stars.

But for all his goofy likeability, Disney, to their creative credit, showed a willingness to stretch and expand Goofy as a character, most notably in Motor Mania, a 1950 cartoon short directed by Jack Kinney that showed how the usually affable Goofy, playing the part of well-behaved suburbanite, Mr. Walker could be transformed into a reckless, angry, slavering monster called Mr. Wheeler, by the simple act of getting behind the wheel of his yellow Lincoln-Zephyr convertible.

Yep, folks, way before anyone had coined the term, Goofy starred in a cartoon about road rage, and as Laughing Squid correctly points out (video via Twitter user @gregveen), “many of the points about road rage are still valid today.”

It’s a lesson about being a safe driver, playing fair and well yeah, not quite learning the lesson in its entirety, if at all.

 

Reader beware: the nasty new edition of the Brothers Grimm (curated article)

Jacob and Wilhelm were Grimm, no question. (image via Wikimedia Commons)
Jacob and Wilhelm were Grimm, no question. (image via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Fairy tales have a tumultuous and fragile history. They originated as tales told by “folk”. They were passed down over generations to while away long winter nights, to provide entertainment at special occasions and for simple enjoyment.

Inevitably, as more people became literate and scholars began to record fairy tales, they were published. And then, with a wave of a magic wand, they entered the canon of European literature.

Scholar and editor Jack Zipes has long regarded this process of making literature from non-literary traditions as a process of sanitisation. The problem, as Zipes has explained, is that once fairy tales were recorded by scholars such as the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, they became bourgeois, religious and moral with some of the naughtiest parts censored.

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Zipes has long championed the restoration of fairy tales to their original form. This is a daunting task but it’s not entirely impossible. Traces of the violence, sex and taboo that characterised many tales are still in evidence in early editions of the Grimms’ Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen).

The very first edition, published in German in 1812, is a strange beast in the literary history of fairy tales.

The Grimms originally produced a scholarly work to preserve the folk tales of the German people with a decidedly philological bent. Despite its title, the book was not intended for children to access independently. Unsurprisingly, neither it, nor the second volume released in 1815, was a bestseller.

But, as the brothers kept revising, re-editing and toning down the tales in subsequent editions, their fairy tales made them literary superstars – the J. K. Rowlings of the Romantic age – culminating in the famous, decidedly child-friendly 7th edition in 1857.

For more than 100 years, stories such as Cinderella and Snow White have delighted and enthralled children and adults alike. Censored in various translations based on the 1857 edition, retold in quaint picture books and made famous by Disney, these tales now bear little resemblance to the versions that appeared in the Grimms’ two-volume editions of 1812 and 1815.

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
Cinderella Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Zipes has now made major steps to revive the original tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm before they felt the pressure to sanitise and prettify their once gritty tales of wounded children, violent heroes and sensual heroines.

In the Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition, Zipes has produced the inaugural English translation of the two original volumes in a gutsy, robust style – warts-and-all.

Children, parents and teachers BEWARE!

English readers will be treated to some juicy gossip, such as the scoop on the sexual escapades of Rapunzel and the Prince and the inside story on the real identity of Snow White’s mother. Additionally, there’s a series of tabloid tales, likely unfamiliar to most readers. Read the collection and you’ll discover why.

So, is Zipes’ translation suitable for children? For that matter, are fairy tales in any shape or form suitable for modern kids? Such questions have dominated debates on pedagogies and parenting for decades.

With the rise of second wave feminism in the 1970s, some women argued for the replacement of fairy tales with stories depicting emancipated heroines rather than victimised and passive ones. Likewise, educators and parents have flinched at the violence in some tales and have banished those dealing with incest, abandonment and starvation.

Arthur Rackham Snow White Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
Arthur Rackham Snow White Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

But others are against the censorship of fairy tales. While the tales were originally meant for adults, children would have also heard them from time-to-time – either intentionally, by accident or through adult indifference.

In view of this reality, the pro-fairy tale contingent sometimes argues that what was acceptable for kids hundreds of years ago, should be acceptable today.

There is also the argument that children of the noughties are over-protected and thereby unprepared for the “real world” or the online world; a problem that could be rectified by exposing them to the unexpurgated Brothers Grimm.

It’s also argued that they also offer children hope as well as a championing the qualities of perseverance and bravery. As Zipes argues: “At their best, the storytelling of fairy tales constitute the most profound articulation of the human struggle to form and maintain a civilizing process.”

More extreme and controversial advocates of fairy tales include the now infamous Bruno Bettelheim. A therapist who treated children using unconventional and allegedly dangerous methods, Bettelheim was a proponent of the benefits of using fairy tales in his therapy sessions.

While his well-known, Freudian-inspired work, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (1976) is quirky, it does put forward some interesting ideas on the use of such narratives in workshopping fears in safe, symbolic ways as well as opening up dialogues on mechanisms to overcome adult oppression and abuse.

But Bettelheim, it seems, did more harm than good and his legacy is tainted by allegations of abuse. But surely the fault should not be placed at the feet of poor old Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

I suggest a cautious middle-road. Then, perhaps some of the more hair-raising tales could be shared with kids – but under the tutelage of sensible adults.The Conversation

Marguerite Johnson is Associate Professor of Ancient History and Classical Languages at University of Newcastle.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Book review: Paper Towns by John Green

(image via Harper Collins)
(image via Harper Collins)

 

It’s worth asking in today’s information-saturated world, where everyone from the local deli operator to the highest earning CEO has an opinion and isn’t afraid to share it, how well we actually know the people around us.

We would all like to think of course that we know our friends, family and objects of affection better than they know themselves but do we really?

How much of what we think we know about them is influenced by our hopes, dreams, preferences, desires, all refracted through the very subjective prism of our worldview?

“There are so many people. It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.” (p. 298)

Quite a large part of it, argues John Green who spends a large part of his book Paper Towns – it draws its title from the idea that the world we inhabit isn’t as substantial or solidly worthwhile as believe it to be – musing in the most lyrical, accessible and down to earth ways about how we do, and often don’t, know the people we call our own, or in the case of the protagonist Quentin Jacobsen (known as Q to his friends), those we would very much like to call our own.

In Quentin’s case, this latter group is an intimate small party of one, occupied by the deliriously beautiful, the captivating, the queen of social bees at his high school, Margo Roth Spiegelman, who has lived across from the lovesick young man ever since they were kids.

Close as bike-riding, park-playing children, they have now drifted apart in adolescence, even though Margo lives just across the street from Quentin – it’s a small strip of road in a perfectly-manicured suburb but it might as well be the Grand Canyon for the distance it puts between Q and his would-be girlfriend to end all girlfriends – leaving the routine-loving, video-game addicted young man to dream from afar about what might be.

 

The UK cover of Paper Towns (image via Sugarscape)
The UK cover of Paper Towns (image via Sugarscape)

 

That is until one night when Quentin, snug in bed, is awoken by Margo slipping with typical overstated bravura into his room, summoning him on a mission to avenge the unfaithfulness of her jock boyfriend Sam, and those with whom he either cheated, the vapid Becca and the disloyal Lacey, who ends up end with a fish buried in the back of her car for her sins.

It’s exhilarating, adrenaline-pounding, rule-bending fun, a wild ride through the dead of night and social milieus Quentin can’t even hope to gain admittance to, even in the dying weeks of high school, and shakes up his life in he never could have imagined.

For a start, he discovers that all the things he thought he knew about Margo were either out of date or wild assumptions with no basis in current reality; even so when Margo disappears the next morning after their adventures in the small hours of the night, it takes Quentin, his friends Ben and Radar, and yes even Lacey, who it turns out no one really took the time to properly get to know either, a long time to realise they think they know Margo better than they actually do.

“Yeah, but—-I don’t know,” Ben says. I can feel him looking over at me, being Serious Ben. “Just—-just remember that sometimes, the way you think about a person isn’t the way they actually are. Like, I always thought Lacey was so hot and so awesome and so cool, but now when it actually comes to being with her … it’s not the exact same. People are different when you can smell them and see them up close, you know?” (p.308)

The genius of Green’s writing, as always, is that he presents these insights, these social epiphanies, in ways that don’t seem forced or something that a self-aware older teenager could figure out if they were paying attention.

Granted there is an air of preternatural self-assurance of sorts about Quentin, the ever hungry for sexual intimacy Ben, and the newly-coupled, internet-obsessed Radar, but you never get the sense that the actions they take in the book, and the realisations they come to as a result, aren’t too adult to be at home in the world of fast-receding into adulthood teenagerdom.

For example, while Ben, Radar, Quentin and Lacey do rather spontaneously set off in search of Margo, who they fear has come to harm either self-inflicted or otherwise – beneath her bon vivant, devil-may-care persona lies a lonely girl no one took the trouble to see – spending a lot of time and money to do so, they only do it after completing the final week or so of high school.

 

The US cover (image via Amazon)
The US cover (image via Amazon)

 

This is no reckless adventure that upends everything and leaves a trail of destruction in its wake, and because it’s rooted in that kind of realness, the way the book ends, and again this defies predictions in a way that Hollywood should take note of more often than it does, makes perfectly satisfying sense.

Life doesn’t always give us the neat and tidy fairytale finishes we would like, the answer to every question, the fulfilment to every dream and Green acknowledges this, making it clear, as Quentin gets to know himself better along with those around him, that what you think you want and know isn’t always as clear cut as you might think.

“But there she is, and I am watching her through the Plexiglass, and she looks like Margo Roth Spiegelman, this girl I have known since I was two—-this girl who was an idea that I loved.” (p. 325)

Green prose is as deliciously funny and heart-stoppingly intense as ever, full of an insanely large number of quotable passages that make you wish you had been that eloquent and insightful as a teenager, or even let’s be honest, as an adult.

He captures the agony of desire, the thudding pain of reality crashing in, and the sweet acceptance that life is a thousand times more complicated than you ever gave it credit for, with the soul of poet, reminding us once again that regardless of how much we think we might know someone, there’s a still a iceberg’s worth of unseen feelings, thoughts, attitudes bobbing about below the surface.

Our job, if we’re brave enough, is to take off our blinkers and see it all, just as Quentin does in his journey through the Paper Towns of life.

*Following the success of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns is coming to a big screen near you very soon with a trailer that neatly encapsulates the rebellious, fun and serious insights of this most accomplished of Young Adult novels …

 

“Here’s the story …” 3 TV show opening themes I am loving right now: Wayward Pines, Outlander, iZombie

photo credit:  via photopin (license)
photo credit: via photopin (license)

 

A TV show’s opening titles matter.

It may not look that way with the brutally-efficient way most modern TV show do away with their identifying openers as if they are pesky gnats to be swished away at a balmy early evening summer picnic, but they do matter.

Think of The Brady Bunch, Six Feet Under, The Nanny, Games of ThronesTwin Peaks, The Facts of Life, and a host of other shows – they would have been nowhere near as memorable without their entrancing opening themes, that either told a story, or set the mood, or often did both, in ways so catchy that they are still as revered as the shows they introduce.

Of course, without inspired writing, characters you want to spend time with, and plot lines that enthral, an opening theme matters not, but in most cases, great shows, and even some not so great ones, come with well-thought out, evocative titles, and before a word has been spoken or a character placed in peril, we’re in with every intention of staying in for the duration.

Hell yeah, the introductory theme song and titles matter and here’s three current shows underlining that with the sort of dedication to the art that makes you realise some TV producers still know the power of a blisteringly good introduction.

WAYWARD PINES

 

SNAPSHOT
Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrives in the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, on a mission to find two missing federal agents. But instead of answers, Ethan’s investigation only turns up more questions. What’s wrong with Wayward Pines? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the life he knew, from the husband and father he was, until he must face the terrifying reality that he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. (synopsis via IMDb via Fox)

What better way to begin a show that is all about things not being quite what they seem than with titles using the sort of Lilliputian model railway people and buildings, all cloaked in shadows and half-light?

Couple the weirdly disturbing graphics by Picture Mill – c’mon it can’t just be me who thinks that small plastic figures staring dully ahead aren’t creepy as hell? Don’t get me started on small plastic clown figures! – with freakily atmospheric original music by Charlie Crouser, and you have the perfect opener to a series that is freakier still at just about every turn.

Throw in allusions to classic theme titles like Six Feet Under, American Horror Story and yes even Nurse Jackie, and you’ll have goosebumps aplenty in no time flat.

While the opening titles, like many of its modern TV brethren doesn’t intimate anything of the story ahead, it certainly sets the scene with aplomb, making it clear a jaunty sitcom or quirky dramedy this is not and you’d better get your freak pants on and then some.

 

 

OUTLANDER

 

SNAPSHOT
Follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate relationship is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. (synopsis via IMDb via Starz)

Outlander, based on the historically-rich, impossibly romantic is one of the most evocative shows to have ever made it onto the small screen.

Rife with engrossing intrigue, time travel, political machinations, romance and love making, violence all set against the majestic, mist-shrouded landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, this is one show that, episode, after edge-of-your-seat episode, shows not iota of fear about plunging headfirst into a narrative maelstrom.

And yet for all its utterly enthralling, often shocking, storytelling twists ‘n’ turns, it is at heart a series about the great, all-encompassing love of a nurse from 1945, Claire (Catriona Balfe), and a Highland lord and warrior, Jamie (Sam Heughan) from the mid-1700s who end up, through circumstances too fantastical to possibly be true, deeply and passionately in love, and set to change the course of history, quite literally in fact.

It’s history and romance writ large, suffused with all of the romantic emotions you will ever feel in your entire life, and so its opening titles are suitably lush, exquisitely beautiful, both musically (“Skye Boat Song” by Bear McCreary feat. Raya Yarbrough) and visually, and entrancing.

As with the casting, the fearless storytelling and the picture-perfect locations, the theme music captures the spirit and feel of the source material as perfectly as any opening titles can, and before you know it, you are swept up in a story you will want to extract yourself from, even if you are given the chance (as Claire is at one time).

 

 

iZOMBIE

SNAPSHOT
Olivia “Liv” Moore was a rosy-cheeked, disciplined, over-achieving medical resident who had her life path completely mapped out… until the night she attended a party that unexpectedly turned into a zombie feeding frenzy. Now a med student-turned-zombie, she takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. With the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head. (synopsis via Pog Design)

It’s obvious from the opening visual of iZombie‘s quirky, fun-filled opening titles, soundtrack supplied by Deadboy & the Elephantmen’s song “S‪top, I’m Already Dead” that the show was inspired by a comic series of ‬the same name by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred.

Not only is it rendered in comic book panels, it quickly, efficiently and yet playfully, gives you the basic premise of the TV series, allowing you to slip quickly into the weirdly undead, one liner rich, quip-filled world of Liv Tyler, the latest plucky heroine to spring forth from Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, who also gave us Veronica Mars.

You might not expect a show about an up-and-coming medical superstar who has her entire future killed off, pretty much literally, to be much fun at all, but it is – wry, insightful, damn near cheeky at times, its opening titles reflecting its playfully serious spirit to a tee, getting you in the mood for a zombie show like no other, a police procedural with more pep and fun that you’d ever expect, and characters that sparkle and leap off the screen, much like their comic book equivalents.

It’s bright, in your face, clever and yet remarkable emotionally-nuanced, all of which somehow manages to get folded into the brief but creatively-rich opening titles which I could quite happily watch over and over even if there was no series following.

 

This blog post will self-destruct in … 5 … 4 … Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation debuts new trailer + character posters

(image via The Geek Twins)
Ethan Hunt (image via The Geek Twins)

 

SNAPSHOT
“Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating the Syndicate – an International rogue organization as highly skilled as they are, committed to destroying the IMF.

“Directed by Christopher McQuarrie and produced by Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk. The executive producers are David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger of Skydance Productions and Jake Myers. Drew Pearce, Christopher McQuarrie, Will Staples, Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier and Dylan Kussman wrote the screenplay, based on the television series created by Bruce Starr.

“Starring Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt Jeremy Renner as William Brandt, Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn and Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell. The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris and Alec Baldwin.” (official synopsis via The Geek Twins)

You have to admire Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his highly-trained, utterly fearless Impossible Missions Force (IMF) team – no matter how impossible the mission might be, they will take it on without a second thought (but not it must be noted without raised eyebrows and jocular quip or two).

They’re back at their taking-it-to-the-baddies best once again in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, hanging off airplanes that are taking off, swimming through an insanely large amount of water without oxygen tanks – breathing? Pfft! It’s for espionage rank amateurs! – and almost dying, and then, naturally enough, getting into high end very fast car … and driving.

As you do.

It’s all in a day’s work for the IMF’s best and brightest, who are battling a shadowy organisation called The Syndicate who means to bring them down, way, way, wiped from existence, down.

Not very nice people at all, really.

So naturally Ethan and the gang fight back, and fight back hard as only they can, and we, dear gloriously over the top espionage-loving viewers of four Mission:Impossible films before this, are the lucky recipients.

All we need to do now is buy some popcorn, find the code to open the plane door ahead of time (not, I repeat, not during take-off; so many OH&S issues … so, SO MANY), and oh yes, fasten our seatbelts before backing at high speed into a canal.

Yep, that happens too.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation opens in USA on 31 July 2015 and Australia on 6 August.

 

 

And here are the rest of the characters posters for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
Benji Dunn (image via The Geek Twins)

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
Ilsa Faust (image via The Geek Twins)

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
William Brandt (image via The Geek Twins)

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
Luther Stickell (image via The Geek Twins)

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
Head of the CIA (image via The Geek Twins)

 

(image via The Geek Twins)
Lane (image via The Geek Twins)