Colony: “What Goes Around” (S3, E13 review) #seriesfinale

Is Katie, played by Sarah Wayne Callies, happy about Colony being cancelled? No, no she is not (image via Spoiler TV (c) USA Network)

 

  • SPOILERS AHEAD … AND NO FURTHER STORYLINE OF ANY KIND, THUS UNDERSCORING HOW STUPID THE WHOLE TV SYSTEM IS, PERPETUALLY LEAVING US WITH HALF-TOLD STORIES

The making of TV shows is a curiously cruel business.

Unlike books, which arrived fully formed, or movies which come with a complete narrative good to go – even if a series, trilogy or franchise is truncated or doesn’t proceed, there’s a reasonably complete story within each constituent film or book – TV shows are at the mercy of the accounting gods, the Excel-embracing denizens of the various studios at who’s say-so a program often lives or dies.

Granted they are necessary in that, without their careful-shepherding of funds, many amazing creations would not exist; but they, and the risk-averse system of which they are a part, are a relic of a bygone system when ratings were king and networks lived and died on the strength of a single transmission of a episode.

We’re way past that now, with cable and traditional networks, increasingly bested by streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the frontrunners of a cable-cutting revolution transforming the TV landscape.

The instinctive reaction to these seismic changes, such as that by USA Network to cancel sophisticated alien-invasion show Colony, is to circle the wagons, batten down the hatches and make yourself as small a target as possible; makes sense, at least partially, since funding isn’t infinite.

However, in a viewing landscape full to brimming with multiple hundreds of scripted shows, not to mention a plethora of reality TV compatriots, surely the better option is to be bold, take chances, come up with a show that is innovative, clever, insightful, gripping different.

Everything that Colony has been in its exquisitely well-told three seasons.

True, you won’t get everyone flocking to watch this or any other show; the days of the mass hit TV show that everyone watches are long gone, with even shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones still only reaching a small portion of the total viewing public.

But that doesn’t matter here in the days of niche viewing where capturing a devoted following, especially beloved by your advertisers, can allow you to survive in a way the big networks can only dream about.

 

Is Will, played by Josh Holloway, happy that Colony has been cancelled? No, no he is not (image via Spoiler TV (c) USA Network)

 

Now, I’m neither an industry insider nor someone from behind the scenes in Colony, and I can’t possibly know how recent changes such as losing tax credits in California and its move to Vancouver really affected one of the most intelligent explorations of how power and influence can both corrode and galvanise a society, but surely USA Networks had a one-of-a-kind show in Colony?

Admittedly it didn’t execute everything perfectly, with rather too much Lost-like obliqueness in its lack of reveals, but as we journeyed with Will and Katie Bowman (Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies) and their family, and those they knew along the way such as Proxy Snyder (Peter Jacobson) and rebel leader Broussard (Tory Kittles), one thing became very clear – this was no ordinary tale of alien invasion.

Eschewing the usual big, awe-inspiring arrival of ships through the clouds – think Independence Day or War of the Worlds, Colony dove down into the very heart of things, offering up a tale of humanity both flawed and noble, collaborative and rebellious, people willing to sell their souls to new alien overlords and those who fought their treason every step of the way.

It’s a classic storyline that’s been played out countless times down through the history, but Colony gave it a modern resonance, a glossy, technologically-buffed retelling that captured your attention because unlike many modern shows that prioritised mass killing off of characters or wildly-extremely story arcs, Colony took its time unspooling its engrossing narrative.

Likely too slow for some, and that’s fair enough since not everyone likes their stories told at a stop-and-smell-the-narrative-roses pace, Colony took three seasons to bring us to the point at the end of “What Goes Around” where the enemies of the aliens who seized our planet with the help of their human collaborators came bursting through the clouds, shields glistening in the sun.

It was an impressive sight, presaging a war we will never see play out – unless, of course, the campaign to #renewColony succeeds in convincing Netflix or another platform to save the show – preceded by an episode that balanced heart-to-heart confessions such as those between Katie and Amy (Peyton List), and Katie and Will, who went off to fight at the frontlines, with some striking action sequences that spoke of the willingness of some people to do the right thing and others to cowardly acquiesce to save their own skins.

We saw the nobility of sacrifice for the hoped-for greater good when 150 Outliers, led by Will, reported to the IGA’s Outlier facility to fight to save the Seattle Colony (and others) and the same noble dynamic play out on a smaller, moreintimate scale when Katie set out to find her kids Bram (Alex Neustaedter) and Gracie (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp) against a backdrop of the growing march to war.

 

… and is Broussard, played by Tory Kittles, happy that Colony has been cancelled? No, no he is not (image via Spoiler TV (c) USA Network)

 

We also saw, and thank goodness for some completion before a thousand plot threads were left unceremoniously dangling, Helena Goldwyn (Ally walker) and pretty the entire IGA leadership in Davos killed in seconds by a mysterious, invisible assassin wearing a reflective material that hid its from sensors, guards and some sophisticated shielding.

Sure, there were plot holes – how did the RAPs still not have a defense against their great enemy after eons of fighting them across the galaxy? And if you have the power and technological wherewithal to cross the stars, how could you see your enemy coming?

Those can all be answered by narrative convenience of course, and the battle about to wage, begun in a relatively-small commander bunker in Switzerland, and honestly the scene was so striking and justice-satisfying that any quibbles about events leading up to it could be discarded for sheer spectacle alone.

The thing is, Colony‘s great strength, and it was on display in “What Comes Around”, is that it took the time, gloriously-immersive time, to tell its story, to build up to this great climactic moment which Netflix-miracle aside will never find its fulfilment.

That aside, and even if it doesn’t have its story continued in televisual form, there’s always comic books or books to finish things off, over three seasons we had the distinct pleasure of watching intelligent writers tell a carefully thought-out story that didn’t dwell purely on spectacle, a fallback for many an alien invasion tale, but chose to go micro, looking at why such an invasion would happen at all, and how humanity would either be complicit in it, stand by self-preservingly or actively fight its very occurrence.

“What Goes Around” brought everything to a beautiful end in one sense, underscoring the impressive bravery and hope of the human species against almost impossible odds, and the willingness of its bottom-dwellers, for that is what they most assuredly are, to sell their very humanity to gain some warped measure of advancement.

Who knows who would have triumphed and what would have been left of us after two extraterrestrial species, locked in violent, ancient enmity for eons, had finished using our home as a battlefield?

One thing we do know however – Colony would not have been satisfied with some sort of simple, easy ending, some glib good vs. evil final act, no doubt finishing as it began, with clever, insightful storytelling, rich characterisation and a willingness to dive into the very worst and elevate the very best of humanity in the hope of telling a captivating story that shone a knowing light on the human condition.

  • And that my friends is that … no “next week on …”, no resolution and no ending to one of the finest sci-fi shows I’ve had the good fortune to watch. Of course, hope springs eternal and if any news emerges of a last-minute reprieve, I will shout it from the blogging rooftops …

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies – the ultimate superhero film?

(image via IMP Awards)

 

I love cartoons, yes even as an adult, and I love inventive parodies, so it mystifies me how I managed to miss a single episode of the hit Cartoon Networks’ show Teen Titans, an animated superhero series created by Glen Murakamia based on a series of 1980s comic books, New Teen Titans. (It appears I’m not alone.)

Granted I am not an habitual watcher of the Cartoon Network – not so much because I don’t fit the demographic (which, ahem, I don’t) as it is that I’m hard-pressed finding the time to watch all my favourite adult shows, let alone indulging my inner-5-year-old constant clamouring for new fun cartoons. Still the buzz about the series was pretty big and yet somehow, this cheerily, colourfully irreverent tale told over five seasons and a movie of five superheroes known as Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong) and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) somehow managed to pass me by.

No more! With the debut of the trailer for Teen Titans Go! To the Movies hitting the interwebs and reviews generally rapturously glorying in all the highly-intelligent, beautifully-executed silliness that affectionately mocks the genre it occupies such as the tagline “If Aquaman can get a movie, anyone can” and the hilarious preponderance of reverential Wonder Woman references and a kickass, promising end credits scene, I am adding this to my list of Fun Things to Watch When I Have a Nanosecond Free.

Yeah, it’s a long list, but this looks like it’s worth adding, if only for a diversionary chuckle in an ever more bleak world …

 

Christmas in July #5: I took joy in Mutts A Shtinky Little Christmas by Patrick McDonnell

(cover image courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

 

Mutts, a delightfully retro, self-aware comic strip by Patrick McDonnell is not your usual humourous newspaper diversion.

First published in 1994, and described by the immortally-great Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts) as “one of the best comic strips of all time”, Mutts has always had a keenly-felt beating heart at the centre of its storytelling.

The willingness of McDonnell to be sweet and adorable, unashamedly heart-on-the-sleeve in an age of cynical standoffishness has paid handsome dividends, not only giving us two avowedly cute (but sassy and clever into the bargain) protagonists in Mooch, a cat, and Earl, a dog – their respective humans, Millie and Frank and Ozzie, though loving and attentive play a background role to the furry stars of the show – but a vehicle through which he can promote a variety of animal-friendly causes, including environmental awareness, conservation, animal adoption and the necessity of giving every pet an expansive love that knows no bounds (because they will most assuredly give it back, without question).

This willing, unconditional loveliness is on full, gloriously-affecting display in the small festive tome, Mutts: A Shtinky Little Christmas, where Mooch and Earl come to the rescue of a long kitten in the snow named Jules, who they rename Shtinky Puddin’ because, well, why not? (Shtinky, the spelling of whose faux-name reflects Mooch’s appealing lisp, loves tigers, and naturally their preservation in the wild, is a recurring character in McDonnell’s artfully-crafted world.)

It’s adorable, as is just about everything about this story which unapologetically, and thank goodness for that, pulls on every seasonal heartstring possible, giving us a story of two animals, and their humans, rescuing Shtinky not once but twice – let’s just say Mooch is a tad neglectful as one critical juncture – come to the salvation of another, and in the process giving us a seasonal tale about giving up our own comfort and wellbeing for the sake of others.

The book is not long, and more like an elongated comic strip than anything (this is not even remotely a bad thing; simply a format description) but in its short running time, we’re treated to a heartwarmingly, redemptive story that sends an important message about looking after the fellow furry creatures we share the planet with.

We even meet Santa Claus too who, along with having a big warm sack full of milk and cookies, scoops up Mooch, Earl and Shtinky from the dubious care of an unseeing snowman in a blizzard, depositing them safely home where love and belonging really lies.

We all know life can be cruel and unpredictable but just as he does in Mutts each and every single day, McDonnell reminds us in A Shtinky Little Christmas that what makes our time here on earth so worthwhile and meaningful is giving and sharing to others, no matter the personal cost, especially if it’s to creatures, and yes, people, far more vulnerable than us.

 

(cover image courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

The City in the Middle of the Night: Charlie Jane Anders’ new futuristic tale

(Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill; courtesy Tor)

 

SNAPSHOT
January is a dying planet—divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. And living inside the cities, one flush with anarchy and the other buckling under the stricture of the ruling body, is increasingly just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside.

Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead, after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans—and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world. (synopsis via Tor.com)

Charlie Jane Anders first novel, All in the Birds in the Sky, is one of those books that I dived into and almost immediately loved, engrossed by a thrilling narrative, exquisitely well-wrought characters and an accessible intelligence to proceedings that added so much to its endlessly-engaging story.

 

Charlie Jane Anders (image courtesy official Charlie Jane Anders Twitter account)

 

I can tell you already beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m going to love her next book too because not only has her publisher Tor unveiled a dazzlingly-captivating cover but they’ve also given us an excerpt to whet our appetite:

“Bianca walks toward me, under too much sky. The white-hot twilight makes a halo out of loose strands of her fine black hair. She looks down and fidgets, as though she’s trying to settle an argument with herself, but then she looks up and sees me and a smile starts in her eyes, then spreads to her mouth. This moment of recognition, the alchemy of being seen, feels so vivid, that everything else is an afterimage. By the time she reaches the Boulevard, where I’m standing, Bianca is laughing at some joke, that she’s about to share with me.

As the two of us walk back towards campus, a brace of dark quince leaves, hung on doorways in some recent celebration, waft past our feet. Their nine dried stems scuttle like tiny legs.” (Read the full excerpt.)

See doesn’t that make you want to read it already?

I can’t wait to finish it all in one sitting but alas wait I shall have to until 12 February 2019 when the book lands in bookshops, online and in my eager hands.

The short and the short of it: Romance is undeniably alive and well in A Date in 2025

(image via IMDb)

 

SNAPSHOT
In the year 2025, a young man’s super-intelligent AI system tells him that he must go on a date or face certain suicide from loneliness. (synopsis via Vimeo)

Going online has really made a huge change to the way we find the love of our life. (Exhibit A is this essay by Azia Ansari.)

Gone are the days of marrying within your neighbourhood or town; now an entire city, country or the entire world is our romantic oyster, transforming how we find love.

The delightfully-insightful short film, A Date in 2025 by Ryan Turner, upends things even further, and yet stays resolutely true to what we all want from dating apps which is to find that very special someone.

True, that quest is now AI-augmented and a teensy-tiny biy creepy but mostly it’s heartwarmingly wonderful as two lonely people find that technology may not be anti-love and belonging after all.

 

Movie review: The Breaker Upperers

(image via IMP Awards)

 

We live in an age where pretty much everything is outsourced.

IT, phone services, shopping, even essay writing if you’re an unscrupulous uni student; so why not breaking up with someone, which I think we can all agree is of the worst things anyone ever has the misfortune to have to go through. (Not to mention the person at the receiving end of the “Dear John” announcement who’s is most definitely having an even worse time of it.)

Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) are two friends who know how sitting-at-a-wedding-reception-with-strangers unpleasant it can be and so in the Taika Waititi executive produced New Zealand comedy, The Breaker Upperers, they operate a service which for $500 down payment and $500 on completion will break upon with the no longer-object of your affection without you having to be even present.

Sounds alluring on just about level if you don’t have stomach for a big, messy emotional showdown, right?

Granted, not everyone’s cup of bitter-tasting tea, a point made rather forcefully mid way through the film by the jilted girlfriend of one client, Anna (Celia Pacquola) when she’s discovers where her boyfriend actually is, but it’s a living, and one the two close friends who share a history with the one man, now an ex for both, tackle with gusto, good humour and creativity.

That is until life intervenes and both women are forced to confront the fact that their business and in fact their entire lives may not be as consequence free as they’ve led their clients and themselves to believe.

 

(image courtesy official The breaker Upperers Facebook page)

 

Until that point is reached, and it arrives earlier than you might think in an hilarious, charming comedy that seamlessly and entertainingly balances laughs (of which there are many) and a real heart, we’re treated to a series of clients who all want to be free of their now-far from special someone.

So desperate are they to escape the crushing bonds of romantic non-bliss that they consent to all manner of elaborate schemes – Mel and Jen are nothing if not fantastically inventive, both in theme and delivery – with one gay man, who by the way did NOT vote for same sex marriage, going to extraordinary lengths during the wedding ceremony to escape a legally-binding arrangement not to his liking.

Much of the humour of The Breaker Upperers, which like all good comedies is consistently funny, drawing off both richly-wrought characters and skillfully-realised situations, comes from Jen and Mel’s clients discussing why they won’t their relationship ended, and then watching the two breaker upperers do their thing.

But Sami and van Beek clearly realised early on that simply stuffing a film full of those admittedly hilarious (there’s that word again; trust me, it is wholly and completely and unreservedly justified) vignettes would not a sustainable comedy make.

So they send the two protagonists, who possess comedic and personal chemistry unparalleled, on emotional journeys that serve the purpose of grounding the two women but also reinforcing the film’s central message (never once hamfistedly delivered in a sleek-as-you-could-ask-for narrative) that belonging to someone, and yes not belonging to them too, is messy and uncomfortable but always best carried out by your own hand.

Mel ends up falling for a 17-year-old client (he’s legal is an assurance that is humourously repeated throughout) Jordan (James Rolleston) who keeps adorably calling her “Melon” – he’s not too bright but with that comes a sweet innocence that means you never once find him annoying but rather wholly endearing – while Jen, unloved and alone, struggles with her dysfunctional family and an old love to whom she still feels connected (even though he has long since moved on).

Each woman is put through an emotional wringer of sorts – Melon (yes I laughed like a fool each time Jordan said her non-name) gets a more absurdist run of it with Jordan’s ex Sepa (Ana Scotney,) a scene-stealer throughout the film, giving her, and Jen in a side-splittingly funny finale, a real run for their Jordan-loving money –  and it’s this authentically-realised emotional arc that gives the vibrantly-percolating comedy even more edge and substance.

 

(image courtesy official The breaker Upperers Facebook page)

 

The Breaker Upperers succeeds on the strength of this robust emotional inner core, astoundingly good performances, which come complete with stunningly-executed comic timing, a sense of silliness that meshes seamlessly with the weightier moments – case in point is a parody of those weirdly out of sync with the current era karaoke images that somehow manages to also pack an emotional punch – and an embedded realisation that we all want to belong, a pressing human need that comes with an equally desperate need at times to get the hell out of relationship Dodge.

In other words, the film gets human nature, with all the humour drawing from its astute observations about the many and varied ways we build and break down love, friendships and even familial connections.

We all want that fairytale connection but rarely do we get it, a sobering reality that provides fertile ground for Jen and Mel’s business but also proves its undoing too as the full implications of playing in this emotional grey area make themselves felt, and The Breaker Upperers succeeds because it articulates so damn, laugh-out-loud, stop-and-think-about-it well what it’s like to get it right, get it wrong and get stuck messily in-between.

If you’re a New Zealander, the comedic genius of Sami and van Beek is well-recognised, but for many Aussies, The Breaker Upperers is our first exposure to two enormously talented comediennes who manage to be hilarious (c’mon, it had to be used again) and thoughtfully insightful, often simultaneously, giving us a heartwarming film with a quirkily absurdist heart that amidst all the laughing and resultant gasping for breath, actually says something meaningful about the human condition (and the use of photos on corrugated backing as artistic statements which, if you think about it, is also important).

 

Driving! The Coen Brothers and The Waltz of the Road

(image courtesy IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Original Video Essay to explore the narrative in the Coen Brothers Style. The importance of the road in all their filmography let them explore the different emotions of their characters. (synopsis via Laughing Squid)

One of the great rewards of watching a film by the ridiculously-talented Coen Brothers, among many of course, is the way their films subsume you into a world where journeys of some kind or another are a constant.

They don’t have to be epic journeys necesarily; in fact, some of the most impacting scenes in their films have involved travelling here and there for the most banal and day-to-day of reasons.

Video editor Rick Perales pays homage to the visual and thematic richness of these journeys in his wordless, atmosphere rich video essay which uses footage from films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Hail, Caesar!, and No Country for Old Men to explore the role that driving and roads play in the films.

In the process, you are taken on a sublime journey of your own, reminded at every turn of the wheel and bend in the road of the narrative richness of these esteemed filmmakers who find the transformative in the relatively simple act of going from A to B.

 

Tons o’ #SDCC trailers: Origins, FTWD, Nightflyers, Disenchantment, SHAZAM! + lots more (bonus The Good Place gag reel)

 

As always lots of pop culture goodness came cascading out of San Diego Comic Con wrapped up just under a week ago.

This intro is far too short a beast to capture it all which is why you check out Den of Geek’s excellent round-up which has all the big, exciting stuff you need to know (trust me, you do, you really, really do).

But one of the big highlights is the release of a slew of great trailers for movies and TV shows, of which I’ve selected the eight that are exciting me the most. (For the full list, see Vulture.)

Let the watching begin!

 

ORIGIN

 

(image via IMDb (c) YouTube)

 

SNAPSHOT
Created, written and executive produced by Mika Watkins, the series centers on “a group of strangers who find themselves stranded on a spacecraft bound for a distant planet. The abandoned passengers must work together for survival, but quickly realize that one of them is far from who they claim to be.” Paul W.S. Anderson of the Resident Evil franchise and Alien vs. Predator will direct the first two episodes. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

Seriously everyone! If anyone ever comes up to you in the future and says “Come on a spaceship to a distant planet, it’ll be fun, it will be lifechanging and everything will be better!” — JUST … SAY … NO because stuff like Origins just keeps on happening. Far better to sit back in the comfort of your non-terrifying loungeroom and stream the show, which actually looks pretty gripping, presumably without a hostile, malignant threat in the background.

Origin premieres on YouTube Red in late 2018.

 

 

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD S4B

 

(image via Flickering Myth (c) AMC)

 

SNAPSHOT
This is how season 4a ended (SPOILERS!)

Sometime after the destruction of the Gonzalez Dam, Madison meets Al whom she tries to rob without success. Madison eventually gives Al a story from when her children were little and explains how she is trying to protect their innocence. Upon their departure, Al gives Madison some food, a radio and a map, allowing her to find her children. Al’s kindness inspires Madison to form the stadium community, but Al never learns Madison’s name. In the present, Naomi and Morgan struggle to get supplies to save John Dorie’s life while Al and Charlie struggle against an attack from Alicia’s group. The subsequent revelation that Al met Madison and Morgan’s intervention convinces Alicia to stop her path of vengeance. At night, Alicia’s group finishes telling their story about the fall of the stadium, including how everyone else died when they tried to flee and were overrun. Madison is revealed to have led the infected into the stadium to contain the herd and give her children, Strand and Luciana a chance to survive. Madison ultimately sets the herd ablaze within the stadium, sacrificing herself in a successful attempt to save the others. In honor of Madison’s memory, Al names the story after her and the group shares the same noodles Al gave to Madison when they first met. (synopsis via Wikipedia)

Is it the living or the dead from which you have more to fear? Hard to say really but I’d put my money on the living who have shown a depressing propensity, ever since Fear the Walking Dead (and its parent The Walking Dead, which has a season 9 trailer) debuted for making things worse not better, pretty much every step of the way. You can outrun zombies but not human nature it seems as recent deaths (is Madison actually dead hmm? No one actually saw it soooo …) attest all too well.

Fear the Walking Dead season 4b returns 12 August US and 13 August Australia.

 

 

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Following the global success of 2014’s Godzilla and this year’s Kong: Skull Island, comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic MonsterVerse: an epic action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

As monster movies go, both Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island were actually pretty good, sporting the usual blockbustery bells and whistles of course but suffused with way more intelligence and emotional resonance than anyone expected. It’s hard to say if Godzilla: King of the Monsters will reward us in the same way, especially given the overwrought trailer which just seems a little bonkers honestly, but I’m hopeful we’ll be 3 for 3 come next year.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters premieres 30 May 2019 Australia and 31 May 2019 in USA.

 

 

NIGHTFLYERS

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Nightflyers follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of our solar system aboard The Nightflyer – a ship with a small tightknit crew and a reclusive captain — in the hope of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place they start to question each other — and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought. The series is based on author George R.R. Martin’s novella and the 1987 film of the same name. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

See Origins – to repeat – DO … NOT … GET … ON … A … SPACESHIP … sure it sounds like fun but then there’s death, running and screaming and a compulsive need to go running back to Earth. Only in this case, you can’t. Far better, once again, to watch it all unfold instead.

Nightflyers premieres on syfy in the northern autumn and Netflix internationally.

 

 

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY S2

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts explained to the crowd that Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will edge away from “the backdrop of war” and into a “more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase,” steadily becoming “a bit more of a Trekian chapter.” (synopsis via Den of Geek)

Good lord but Star Trek: Discovery season 1 was a cold and fascinating ride. Not everyone liked it but I loved its grittier, earthier take, far more humanly fallible take on the future where things are good, but not perfectly good. For all its futuristic trappings, if feels real and possible and with Sonequa Martin-Green lending strength and vulnerability to her role as Michael Burnham, you can’t really go wrong especially now the show has added TOS-ness.

Star Trek: Discovery season 2 premieres late 2018/early 2019 on CBS All-Access in USA and Netflix internationally.

 

 

SHAZAM!

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong). (synopsis via Coming Soon)

This looks wonderful! Apart from the ’70s TV show which I loved, my knowledge of Shazam is sketchy. But by gosh if this gleefully spirited, sweet little trailer is any indication and I think it is, DC could have a real hit on their hands. Zachary Levi is perfectly, beautifully cast and it seems to capture what it would be like for a kid who’s never had any breaks, to get an almighty big life-changing one. Let the happy superhero stuff begin!

SHAZAM! premieres 4 April 2019 and 5 April 2019 US and UK.

 

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

OK confession – I have never read the Harry Potter books but I have seen all the films and loved them. Hence, I approach any films in this universe from a cinematic rather than literary perspective and honestly the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film ticked all the boxes and then some. What a fun romp with real heart and some pretty big stakes. Granted the second film looks darker and far more intense but I’m still expecting some wit and whimsy along, since Rowling seems to have the ability to balance the dark and the light to astoundingly good storytelling effect.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premieres 15 November Australia and 16 November US and UK.

 

 

DISENCHANTMEMT

 

(image via IMP Awards)

 

SNAPSHOT
In Disenchantment, viewers will be whisked away to the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where they will follow the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci. Along the way, the oddball trio will encounter ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools.

The series will feature the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson (Broad City) as Bean, Nat Faxon (Tammy) as Elfo and Eric Andre (The Lion King) as Luci. They will be joined by John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Matt Berry, Jeny Batten, Rich Fulcher, Noel Fielding, and Lucy Montgomery. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

Postmodern parodies are brilliantly good fun usually and Matt Groening looks to have hit a completely off-the-charts good home run with his tale of a non-trope observing princess and her unusual travelling companions. Sure all the usual fairytale elements are in play but not in any configuration you’ll find a kid’s storybook and we will be all the better for that. When we can stop laughing, that is.

Disenchantment premieres 17 August on Netflix.

 

 

We all know it’s a very funny and enormously clever show – who knew that the existential quandaries of the afterlife could be so damn funny – and that season 3 is going to be AAAAA-MAZING, but did you know that the gag reel is not “meh” at all (don’t listen to The Medium Place!) but actually wonderfully entertaining too?

You want more? Here’s The Good Place gang at #SDCC 2018!

 

Now this is music #109: Beach House, SOPHIE, Loomings, Pizzagirl, Animal Feelings

 

The scene: 2 or 3 a.m. or the languid period between, when life has slowed down, the thoughts of young men and women (and some of the more nocturnal oldies who’ve had nanna naps) turn to dreamy thoughts of life, the universe and everything.

Obviously at this time of the day, or more accurately night, you want music that won’t disturb the meditative mood too much but will still make you feel alive and engaged (but not too much) which is why these five immensely-talented, and in one case, collaborator, are so perfectly suited to the task.

They manage to give us music that is laidback but also thoughtful, songs that soothe with their softness but stir the mind with their insights.

Sounds kinda wonderful right? And so it is …


“Dark Spring” by Beach House

 

Beach House (image courtesy official Beach House Facebook page)

 

Beach House, comprised of Baltimorians singer/ keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist/keyboardist/backup singer Alex Scally, has been gifting up with their dream take on pop since 2004.

With their seventh album in the offing, aptly called 7, we’ve been treated to lead single “Dark Springs” which comes armed with the band’s trademark earthy ethereal vocals and stripped-back wafty synth and guitar-enriched melodies, not to mention a sense of engaging mystery and haunting beauty.

It’s laidback music sure but not unnoticeable, possessed of a rich muscularity lyrically and musically that makes this anything but easily-ignored background music.

In fact, Beach House’s music is intensely chilled, and yes that is a thing, that takes you in, doesn’t let go and make you glad you came along for the unhurried though intensely luxuriant ride.

 

 

“Faceshopping” by SOPHIE

 

SOPHIE (image courtesy official SOPHIE Facebook page)

 

Described by We Are: The Guard as a “binary-smashing badass”, which is quite possibly one of the best 21st century accolades to be given to anyone lately, SOPHIE (all capitals and nothing but the capitals, thank you) is a Scottish singer/songwriter/producer/DJ who understandably doesn’t want the usual lazy norms to define her.

It’s part of a very welcome modern trend for people to define themselves and not let a smallminded majority do it for them, an unshackling of identity that finds impressive musical and visual expression in “Faceshopping”.

The video show the talented artist, who started off in a band called Motherland, having her face manipulated and played with as a way of demonstrating that making assumptions about who anyone really is a fraught exercise, since we all change in some way from moment to moment.

The song is playfully discordant and sing-songy, the clip immensely creative and brilliantly left-field, and SOPHIE is exactly the kind of artists we need in an age when the forces of freedom, which she champions, and authoritarianism seem to be locked in mortal combat.

 

 

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Loom:ngs

 

Loom:ngs (image courtesy official Loom:ngs Facebook page)

 

Possessed of a creative band name that pays no heed to expected spellings – trust me Google has no idea what to do with them which frankly I kind of like since I like the search engine behemoth being bested – Loom:ngs are comprised of Zola Johnson and Daniel Loumpouridis who hail from “somewhere between Chicago and San Francisco” according to We Are: The Guard.

Kicking off with quirkily light beats that percolate with joyously merry insistence, and the soft breathy vocals of Zola before Daniel breaks in with lead vocal duties, “Make This More” is the duo’s debut slice of perfect pop.

It’s beautifully chilled, a fitting way to make the world sit and pay attention which they will most certainly do with a little The Postal Service vibe creeping dreamily into a song that sounds slight but winningly so.

It’s the perfect 2 a.m. soundtrack, that time when you’ve grown a little tired but still want some life and vivacity to your quieter early morning musical musings.

 

 

“Seabirds” by Pizzagirl

 

Pizzagirl (image courtesy official Pizzagirl Facebook page)

 

The only drawback, and frankly there are worse things that can happen to you, to the name shown by so-called Liverpudlian bedroom artist” Peter Zer Girl aka Liam Brown, is that I have been craving some piping-hot pizza at a time at work when my plain old lunch has just made its presence rather blandly felt.

That aside, he’s a promising new talent with an oddball engaging sense of humour that pours into his trippily fun song “Seabirds”, which The Line of Best Fit describes as a “concoction of blending the past with his penchant for more modern and unusual influences make for a sound that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is, in every essence, just really good fun.”

Fun it is indeed but also ’80s-laced musically rich that jauntily takes you on a vintage synth trip into a gloriously lovely place you’ll happily inhabit for the duration … and for a long time after.

As bios go, by the way, Pizzagirl has it down pat, having a ball telling us where’s come from and where he’s going. I have a feeling his career will be worth sticking around for …

“Originating from The Womb™, Liam Brown also known to his classmates and limited fans as Pizzagirl, started crafting music and bustin’ out the fattest beats as early as two weeks old. Since then he has flew through childhood and cruised through the teens with expert grace and style and continues to churn the creamiest rhythms in his bedroom beat factory “The Beatzzeria”. The story continues right to the present day as he flops into adulthood with the hope of being the best beat crafter he can, what awaits for ur boy Pizzagirl? Stick around to find out!”

 

 

“Millions” by Animal Feelings (feat. Mammals)

 

Animal Feelings feat. Mammals (image via YouTube)

 

A transpacific creation by way of Australian artist Mammals, described on radio station triple j’s Unearthed site as “the indie/electronica/folk project masterminded by Australian singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Guy Brown”, and New York City producer Animal Feelings (Oli Chang), “Millions” is a gorgeous piece of luminously dialed-down pop that We Are: The Guard winningly describe thus:

“Much like ‘Depths’ before it, ‘Millions’ is a warm embrace of electronic pop vibes, with Mammals’ vocals lapping against Animal Feelings’ cascading synth arpeggios like sparkling ocean waves.”

The song “Depths” is in fact the first collaboration between the two talented artists with Mammals calling on Animal Feelings for hos producing nous, with “Millions”, all sinewy, liquid loveliness and exquisite brittle beauty, anchored by breathlessly evocative vocals, the second outing although with Animal Feelings enlisting Mammals to help out on his track.

Honestly, given how perfectly they go together, you can only hope these two amazing musicians will create some more beautiful music together.

 

 

NOW THIS IS MUSIC EXTRA EXTRA!

 

“Uptown Funk” was a MAJOR zeitgeist-defining hit for Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars back in the heady days of 2014 and now it lives again via this viral performance of the enormously-catchy song by the Norfolk, Virginia police department, part of Lip Sync Challenge set for them by The Corinth, Texas police department. (Mashable)

 

“What should happen if you forget about me?” Remind yourself with lovely photos from Christopher Robin

Time with a special friend is never wasted right Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh? (image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

SNAPSHOT
In the heartwarming live-action adventure “Disney’s Christopher Robin,” the young boy who loved embarking on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a band of spirited and lovable stuff animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside. (synopsis via Coming Soon)

My love for the lovable denizens of A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Woods goes way back.

Like many people, I came across Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore et al in childhood, lapping up the books first released back in the 1920s when they became a publishing sensation and falling in love with the sweet innocence of unconditional and friendship that fill each story like an overflowing honey pot.

 

 

I love these characters so much in fact that I can’t help but agree with The Nerdist‘s Amy Ratcliffe who had this to say, in the kind of gushing prose that makes you realise how much they mean to everyone, and why Disney’s upcoming Christopher Robin film is so eagerly awaited:

“Pooh bear! I want to hug him and hand over all the honey in my possession to make sure he’s well fed. Pooh’s precious appearance is of course enhanced by the voice performance of Jim Cummings, but merely looking at pictures of Pooh (and his buddies!) is completely uplifting. I saved a folder of Christopher Robin images on my computer to have an instant burst of joy on hand to brighten a frustrating day, and I can’t be the only one who has heart eyes over seeing Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and more in action.”

These heartwarmingly lovely pics should tide us all over until Christopher Robin opens 3 August USA, 17 August UK and 20 September Australia.

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)

 

(image via Nerdist (c) Disney)