TV Review: Dahmer (2022)

Netflix‘s Dahmer is a psychological crime drama based on the true story of the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer is a limited series of ten episodes that focuses on his crimes, his motives, his victims, and the impact on American society and community, both white and black.

I will say that Dahmer is truly a courageous project pulled by Netflix as the creators Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan along with the team of writers and directors brought the best outcome of the entire showcasing of the bloody psycho show.

The two words to praise the show’s content and intent will be; disgusting and disturbing. Do I need to explain why I used these two words? I don’t think so. But I must admit that at the halfway mark, I really felt that Dahmer being immensely horrible was tested to limits.

And full marks to Evan Peters who pulled a performance to make you hate him and curse him, I mean Dahmer. The reason I am clarifying this is because on the TV Time app, I observed to my surprise that many voters were criticizing other voters to vote for Evan Peters. Whereas the vote was for the actor, of course not for Dahmer. People really must not be that foolish I swear.

Now the objective of this show was successfully achieved from all aspects. Dahmer’s origins, his childhood, his bullying in school, the parents fighting, the birth of killing instincts, the sexual disorder, the obsession with killing, the show covered everything. And that is the beauty of television that is difficult to achieve in a motion picture.

Dahmer’s parents are worth observation. Dahmer’s mental disturbance was the result of his parent’s fights and divorce. His father was more at fault for exposing him to dead animals on the streets. After Dahmer was arrested, the father realized way too late and he confessed to him in court that he got the same feelings as him. So this torch of madness passed from father to son.

There is a generous need of distinguishing the podium of the significance of the central character. Because the makers here didn’t glorify the serial killer. More than Dahmer being a Milwaukee Cannibal, the show focused on the mental areas of disturbance that caused Dahmer to hurt people.

After Dahmer’s sentencing, the show had two more episodes and perhaps the audience at that point begins to think why further. The reason is that ‘impact’. The writers and makers wanted to show the impact his trial made in America. And it was no joke. The system was rightfully questioned. The law and order, the police, and safety issues were put into question. When Dahmer was committing those brutal crimes, no cop was interested to check him. To my utter surprise, he escaped from getting caught every time before his arrest.

And this is where the sociopolitical agenda strikes the right chords; the injustice with the African-Americans! Superbly dramatizes the double standards of how the Black community was heavily ignored when they complained. Police escorting the 14-year-old kid back to Dahmer’s residence was just insane. The episodes on Tony, Glenda, and Dahmer’s parents were necessary fills.

The ninth and the second-last episode breaks the audience with zero optimism for four reasons. The cops getting awards? Arresting Sandra for breaking a camera? The cops making threatening calls to the victim’s family! And Jeff establishing fanhood!

The world is so sick that people can get inspiration from his killings, become his fans, send him letters, and request his autograph. How will psychopaths like Dahmer not be encouraged? White supremacy is another tragic angle. Three young white boys taking pictures in front of that building with a killing pose? This is the precise problem that needs to be addressed. No wonder how many Dahmers are there in America and other countries.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/DAHMER-Monster-Still-4-Netflix-Publicity-H-2022.jpg?w=1296

Dahmer shows honesty in historical accuracy and distances from sensationalizing. From the technical aspects of filmmaking, the direction is impressive, especially the episodes directed by Jennifer Lynch. The music score of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is gloomy. Besides Evan Peters’ unforgettably sublime performance, Niecy Nash as Glenda and Richard Jenkins as Dahmer’s father were excellent. The latter’s emotional breakdowns were accurate.

Dahmer makes the audience cold like dead meat smoldering with complaints that no one will listen to. It is a sad case that makes you sick and humiliated that there are people like Dahmer who are just one step away to finish you in the worst possible way and destroy your family.

RATINGS = 8.6/10

 

Film Review: Darlings (2022)

Badrunnisa (Alia Bhatt) and Hamza Shaikh (Vijay Varma) are young lovers. On one of their dates, Hamza surprises her that he is getting the job and will marry her soon. After three years of marriage, Hamza is addicted to drinking which makes him a wife-beater.

Darlings is one of those millions of brown society marital stories where the couples try their best to stretch the bond in the early years of marriage and also believe that once their munna (baby) arrives in this world, he or she will become the blessing and the fights will decrease. And the couples will spend quality time. Alas, the alcohol is strong enough to intoxicate and destroy the marriage.

I am not sure whose idea was it but I opine that Darlings has missed their chance to address a highly sensitive social, domestic, and marital concern – domestic abuse. Instead of utilizing the plot and using the best source of Aliya, Vijay, and Shefali, and nailing a staunch reality into a significant family drama, the makers chose to make Darlings a dramedy.

Most of the methods of cinematic appeal for Darlings is senseless and clueless. The continuity of the screenplay raises a lot of hows and whys. Unimpressive direction proves that the debutant director Jasmeet K Reen is a complete novice.


MINUSES

Let me write you a few of my bullet disagreements:

1. UNDEVELOPED PROCEEDINGS

In scene 1, Hamza breaks the news to Badru about his job and marriage, and hugs. In scene 2, three years later, Hamza beats Badru for a bad dinner. I get it, the makers wanted to send a chill in the audience with this shocking development but where is the impact?

The audience missed three years of unwanted marital decline that caused the downfall of the marriage. Hence, the development of the central characters, their chemistry, and the entire fallout of marital respect that fluctuates between love and rage is absent which makes the proceedings flat. For this factor, I understand that television dramas play a vital role but the films can still highlight a few minutes of my objection above and justify the screenplay.

2. DRAMEDY???

A subject so crucial and sensitive is taken too lightly and irresponsibly that compromises realism. After the death of the child, how can there ever possibly be comedy at all? All the sequences with the police and police station were utter nonsense. The art of lying in Indian films is the fakest of all fakes that I have never understood. And Darlings maintains the tradition of the characters lying to the other and the latter buying it.

3. WHERE IS THE DOMESTIC ABUSE???

A film based on domestic abuse doesn’t have enough much intensity to dramatize the marital violence besides that shocking scene where Hamza lets Badru fall resulting in a miscarriage. On a few occasions, when Hamza is about to beat Badru, the scene shifts towards the salon where the salon lady routinely hears the screaming. Why not dramatize violence and make the audience cold? When Hamza breaks Badru’s finger with a high-heel sandal, the scene doesn’t show the hit but we listen to the cracking sound.

4. PLOTHOLES

In almost every couple of scenes, there is a plothole. Darlings is a directional disaster where most of the scenes raise questions and make no sense. How come not a single neighbor wakes up or shows up spectating Hamza throwing Badru out of the house late at night? How come the hospital didn’t report to the police the domestic violence that resulted in miscarriage. Section 312 in the Indian Penal Code imprisons such for a minimum of three years, and perhaps with a fine also. Why do the mother and daughter plan to torture Hamza for killing the child instead of making a police case against him as they were intending to do earlier until Badru gave him a chance? Why is Zulfi speaking in sign language and making the mother and daughter guess where Hamza is when the police squad is not with them? Again, how come no one spectates in the society that not one but three people are trying to throw Hamza from the terrace?


PLUSES

If there are pluses, that lies only in the performances. Let me brief you on those:

1. ALIA BHATT

The central casting is Darlings’ positive frame. Alia Bhatt’s performance shuts every possible disagreement that she cannot perform. Those who encourage boycotting films because Alia features are fooling themselves. Her existence and presence in the film are one of the major reasons why at 29, she can run the business of her films on her own despite Bollywood being a typical male-oriented film industry. Her emotional fallouts and dramatizing pain and disappointment are always spot on.

2. SHEFALI SHAH

A versatile actress like Shefali knows what true dedication is portraying an important character. Even in her comic stance, Shefali as Badru’s mother makes you forget for a moment that some of her scenes were funny but her funny performance converted into awkwardness while applying method acting. Out of nowhere, she tells the story of a frog and a scorpion. Asks Hamza to keep hitting his head on the wall. But she goes to another parallel when Hamza hits her or when she confesses.

3. VIJAY VARMA

The biggest responsibility of the antagonist is to create hatred for himself/herself and Vijay as Hamza does that. His physical presence is a piece of genuinely bad news for both mother and daughter. And his mental breakdown gives you a precise idea about a violent husband. It was an excellent performance.


CLOSING REMARKS

Darlings surprisingly has met immense respect from the critics and the audience. They all are entitled to their opinion. I firmly believe that Darlings has missed the chance of portraying realism about domestic abuse with a distinction that held a lot of promises due to its quality casting.

RATINGS = 4/10

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is recalled to Top Gun for a mission where instead of being a fighter pilot, he has to train the Top Gun graduates. While returning to Top Gun, Maverick’s emotional phase meets new parallels, he reunites with his former girlfriend and faces his best buddy Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw‘s son Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw who is infuriated for genuine reasons. More than that, Maverick is still heartbroken by Rooster’s demise.

It is a crazy theory that one of the most iconic, memorable, and beloved films of all-time, Top Gun, can be thought to fetch a sequel after crossing three decades with the same poster boy and results in the legacy of the work meeting new heights. Top Gun: Maverick is unarguably the most ideal sequel one can dream of for their favorite film. This film exceeds all the expectations. It is a groundbreaking success and in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece dramatizing aviation. You watch such incredible flying sequences and your eyeballs dare not to locomote for a microsecond.

Tom Cruise at 60 shows no signs of slowing down. He along with Top Gun graduates who are young pilots learned to fly fighter jets. They all were put through extensive three-month training to avoid air sickness. While shooting the scenes, the cast was sitting in the fighter jets behind the military pilots. And obviously, they didn’t get to sit straight in F/A-18. They had to go through Cessna 172, then Extra EA-300, then L-39, and eventually F/A-18 when the cast had built a strong ‘G tolerance‘. The young cast can exert that physical pressure but someone at 60 has to be a metahuman. Tom Cruise cruises his life towards extraordinary bounds. This is exactly why Tom Cruise is globally respected and recognized as a true superstar.

One of the most distinguished aspects of the old Top Gun film was the rivalry between Maverick and Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky. With the new film moving in a different direction, it was a blessing to see Val Kilmer somehow reprising his role and face Maverick for that one memorable scene. Writing off the Iceman character from the franchise once and for all was the right idea.

Miles Teller as Goose’s son Rooster was the perfect choice who facially reminds us of Anthony Edwards as Goose in the old film. This character was added with the burden of the emotional tragedy that became a complaint towards Maverick especially when the latter wasted a few years of the former’s career. Rooster’s significance to Maverick is so much Donnie Creed to Rocky Balboa.

The writing of this film never disappointed. I liked the pressing about Maverick’s character that despite old age, he wanted to fly and fight. Because this is what he meant to do. He is not a teacher but a naval aviator, a fighter pilot. His repeated insubordination didn’t let him grow further. Or maybe he chose to refuse to obey orders so that he could remain at his post for the love of flying.

The most impressive part of the writing that was followed from the old film is the introduction of the old flame, Penny played by Jennifer Connelly. This character was mentioned twice in the old film but was never shown who she was. Thirty-six years later, we all actually happen to watch this girl coming back into Maverick’s life, and is so exciting. Not sure why Kelly McGillis was not brought back. Could have been equally exciting to see her again meeting Maverick at some point in the film.

With the passing of thirty-six years between the two films, I also liked the recognition of moving ahead from manned aircraft to remote-controlled drones as noticed in the first scene. In order to avoid the shutting of Mav’s scramjet program, he flies the prototype to Mach 10 after which Rear Admiral Hammer Cain warns Maverick that the era of crewed fighter aircraft will soon end.

There was one thing I felt missing in the flying sequences in the old film – a birdstrike. This happened here and I am glad the makers showed the consequences of such tragic incidents. There were many breathtaking flying sequences but the one that screamed my soul was when the team struggles to escape from the SAMs after destroying the Uranium enrichment plant.

I was not convinced by a few factors in the screenplay. For example, the new rivalry between Rooster and Hangman was not detailed as Ice and Mav and therefore looked forced to remind us of the old rivalry. The character of Rooster is not much significance to the film as it should be for a strong supporting role. Mav takes command of the story in its entirety that Rooster looks like filling the minutes. The writing of Rooster lacked the strength to build its own importance in front of Maverick. The way Mav and Rooster stole F-14 from the destroyed air base looked like the writer was running out of ideas. It looked flat to me.

Top Gun: Maverick, in addition to the points I praised above, is the winner in the sound department as well as cinematography and direction. The writing of the film showed that the writers were faithful to the Top Gun legacy and therefore, gifted a respectable and very dedicated sequel to the audience.

RATINGS = 8.6/10

Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

A God killer is on the run killing Gods all over the universe which alerts Thor. And during the course of fighting against all odds, Thor reunites with doctor Jane Foster who, to his surprise, has the powers to wield Mjolnir and has become the Mighty Thor.

The plot had the potential to enrich the Thor franchise but unfortunately, once again, a Thor film is obsessed with forced humor destroying any chance to address the haunting excalibur that is spreading great suffering. All four Thor films were alarmed with incredible threats but made the joke out of everything that resulted in the supremely outrageous outcome.

It was annoying to observe how Thor and his team were being funny despite the children of Asgardians being kidnapped. The entire Zeus sequence was terrible. What was Russell Crowe doing? He could have such a command on a dynamic role but Zeus turned into some funny fat old fart. Absolute mockery. The appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy was unnecessary.

At a budget of $250 million, the film definitely deserves praise for its striking visual effects and sound. But one factor that struggles to keep this film above the knees is Christian Bale‘s Gorr who was undoubtedly the best thing that happened to Thor: Love and Thunder. Every shot that had Bale was worth watching. It was as if Bale had strictly demanded the director Taika Waititi to be sober when he shoot his scenes. And then the whole understanding of Gorr’s fury was well executed. There was particular angst that troubled Gorr for not overcoming the tragic passing of his daughter and blaming the Gods for it.

The best and the most captivating scene of the entire film was the opening scene with Gorr losing his daughter. And to some extent, Gorr’s reunion with his daughter was also dramatized well. And this is where I am lost in Taika Waititi, he has two different dimensions of shooting a scene. He can make the entire sequence pledged with mockery by adding needless jokes. Or, on the contrary, will give an impact on the sensitivity and motion of the subject.

Why Thor got the fourth film is beyond my understanding. And Disney Studios are now going for the fifth. It is a one-timer silly film that is needed to be watched for the sake of being in touch with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and to watch Bale’s stupendous performance.

RATINGS: 3.5/10

Comics Review: The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (2018)

Previously, I wrote comic book reviews about the first two volumes of Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá‘s The Umbrella Academy, Apocalypse Suite and Dallas. The Netflix show with the same title that Steve Blackman ran and wrote had smart writing for any adaptation, complex but a method that suits the television audience and to a razor-edge point where the viewers can be convinced with.

The third season detailed the Sparrow Academy which was depicted by the end of the second season as a dramatic cliffhanger. It was more shocking for the comic geeks because the Sparrows are not really much introduced to comics. I happened to read the third volume, Hotel Oblivion, as the title gives me or every one the precise impression that the third season is based on this book which is true but not entirely. The Sparrows show up to the Umbrellas at the end of the book just like the show’s second season as mentioned above.

That makes Steve Blackman’s writing the show in a very different direction really cool. We buy what we watch and there surely is a behind-the-scene geekery-geekery-gock discussion about the fourth book proceedings to refer to on the television. When will the fourth book release, no idea but Steve Blackman’s idea about the show’s fourth season will now test him. Because so far he has done a really good job.

One major difference between television and comics is that Hotel Oblivion is a hotel in the former but a prison in the latter. A prison that is designed by who else than Sir Reginald Hargreeves himself for the most dangerous villains his babies have fought and defeated. There is no chance of escaping this prison unless they use a teleportation device, televator. But utilizing the televator will also not be enough because Scientific Man monitors Hotel Oblivion from space.

Scientific Man is The Umbrella Academy’s Doctor Manhattan with a better costume. While reading the fifth issue, surely his appearance to every reader like me was a surprise. He entered the scene like a messiah or a Superman. And I am not understanding why was this character not involved in the latest season. Or did he show up if I am mistaken?

The stories of both the television and the comics are extremely different. My whole enthusiasm to read Hotel Oblivion to broaden my understanding for the third season altered because, in the comics, the Umbrella Academy fights against the Murder Magician, a hypnotist, and Obscura, the jewel thief. Both of the villains manage to escape the Hotel Oblivion.

Speaking of the hotel, there is no mention of Hotel Obsidian in the comics. Hotel Oblivion is a one-dimensional prison built by Hargreeves to torture his villains. But the third season, I opine, edges over this idea in writing the third season. Steve Blackman introduced the concept of Hotel Obsidian, a hotel where Klaus used to get drunk more often. When the Sparrows show the Umbrellas the exit door, they take shelter in this hotel and later on discover the mysterious routes that take them to a bizarre version of Obsidian which is Hotel Oblivion.

Just like in previous books, Hotel Oblivion maintains dysfunctionality in the siblings. They are again scattered. Spaceboy is walking on the streets of Tokyo. Number Five is a hired assassin. Vanya again has a shorter appearance like Dallas and continues her physical therapy. But this time she is interesting to read when Vanya and her mother have a deep conversation in the fourth issue where the mother explains what makes her daughter so special.

Hotel Oblivion also deserves to be praised for developing the understanding of Hargreeves. A thought about Hargreeves creation to be a blessing also juxtaposes his vision on a broader scale whether he ended up being a villain after the revelation of his prison plan that happened after his death.

Just like the previous two books, the main issue covers and the introduction of the issue names had impressive drawings as well as some portions of the stories. Gabriel Bá’s illustration really reflects a darker image of the happenings. Notice his detailing in the fifth issue when all the villains march together. Or the nuclear reaction in the final issue. The comic-book partnership of Gerard and Gabriel is the key to The Umbrella Academy being an exciting brand to follow.

I think the third book was an offshoot to step into major parallels. The seven-chapter identity crisis story gave new meaning to thinking about renewing a universe. It was an interesting idea. Hotel Oblivion is completely different from the first two books, it is like waking up during a road trip to experience a totally new world.


REFERENCE

The Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion Issues 1-7 (2018-2019)

DOWNLOAD

https://getcomics.info/other-comics/the-umbrella-academy-collection/

SUPPORTING VIDEO

I found this comic-book review about Hotel Oblivion very genuine. Watch and listen to them.

Film Review: Elvis (2022)

Nothing extraordinary to explain what Elvis is about. It is a bio-drama about the life of the king of rock’n’roll, Elvis Presley.

Elvis is the fictional narration of Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker. Austin Butler plays Elvis and Tom Hanks plays Colonel Parker. Baz Luhrmann returned to the director chair after nine years to direct easily one of the most difficult projects to execute for a film project when it comes to a biopic.

Why do I call the project difficult? Because I opine that such iconic figures from any walk of life who had a lot of events in their lives need broad detailing and that is possible only in a limited series or a television drama divided into seasons. Due to very limited screen time, no film can come up with a story that has too much to tell in one go. And this is the exact reason why Elvis for me fails to impress me as some quality bio-drama.


MINUSES

Let me highlight a few points that disturb the edge.

1. A Road Runner Screenplay

From the start, this film is about competing in a 100m sprint race. Result? No development of any particular chronicle due to lack of breathing. The screenplay suffocates between Elvis’ childhood and fame.

2. Performances, Performances, and Performances

One after the other, Elvis performs and performs. Baz Luhrmann gives less concern to some sensitive contents that needed more intense dramatizing. Elvis’ relationship with his mother alone takes more than half a film as her character was that important. But due to limited time, Baz restricted most of the important things and focused on Elvis-Colonel chemistry. His army life, passion for karate, and two other relations with Linda Thompson and Ginger Alden are fully ignored.

3. Perplexed Aesthetics

Elvis is a confused script where the derivation and enthusiasm of the audience override. First, the film begins with the Colonel being the narrator and clearing the air to the fourth wall of why is he not to be blamed for Elvis’ demise. But in the second half, Colonel is visibly at fault with no audible commentary to reason any further. Second, Elvis is dramatized in a way that he was innocent of Colonel’s deception. So the motive of narration and the principle method of addressing the whole film in a particular way fails again.

4. Historical Inaccuracies

Too much liberty has been taken from the historical account. Neither Colonel met Elvis in the carnival nor convinced him at some mirror maze. The colonel was not even in the show where the female spectators couldn’t hold themselves watching him perform for the first time. The meeting at the Hollywood sign never happened. His famous number ‘That’s All Right’ is not depicted accurately. Elvis deceives the audience by trying to frame the screenplay as the true story of the legend.


PLUSES

Elvis doesn’t entirely suffer from lies and the points I have raised above. There are plusses that deserve to be mentioned and praised.

At the start, the young Elvis goes to the gospel church and reinvents himself. The entire sequence establishes his case where his passion for different music genres and the dance moves came from.

Then the first live performance was directed really well. Even if the sequence was not inspired by any true incident, that shot was necessary liberty to describe the first shockwaves of listening and watching to Elvis. Colonel’s description of Elvis from that scene as ‘A Taste of Forbidden Fruit’ is the most perfect one-liner I can listen to about a music legend used in the film.

Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker will eat the sympathetic Elvis loyalists as the cruelty he imposed on his troubling life is painful to cause heartbreak, especially when Elvis collapses and Colonel orders to make him ready for the show. Tom Hanks displays a performance that successfully sparks hatred and annoyance. It was necessary and the legendary actor nails that.

And the biggest delight and the most positive angle of the film is Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis. Thank God Harry Styles was not finalized. I cannot imagine any actor giving his utmost effort to physically present Elvis out from the role on par or better than Austin Butler. This is an Oscar-worthy performance. This guy actually sang those tracks in the film, no singer playbacked him. The dance moves and some of Elvis’ memorable performances are so magnificently and accurately portrayed. The emotional fluctuations and breakdowns are so well acted throughout the film. Had Baz committed a mistake in choosing his Elvis, the film would have met the disaster. A huge burden of the film and Elvis’ legacy are well carried.


ELVIS
Copyright: © 2022 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: Hugh Stewart
Caption: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

CLOSING REMARKS

Elvis rejects being an authentic biographer and chooses to captivate and entertain the young audience about how Elvis and his music defined the era. Elvis focused on what took the king to become easily the greatest music entertainer until the arrival of Michael Jackson. The film is depicted from the colonel’s angle and it would have been so meaningful if the film was depicted from Elvis’ angle.

RATINGS: 5.5/10

TV Review: They Call Me Magic

Produced by Apple TV+, ‘They Call Me Magic‘ is a four-part documentary about one of basketball’s greatest legends, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. One of the most exciting stories on and off the basketball court, the show covers almost everything Magic stands for; his childhood, his family, and his relationships. The show also highlights a much-needed detailing about the making of his legacy in college basketball. This was very necessary due to his being arguably the greatest college basketball player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.

The documentary features interviews of Magic, his wife, family, coaches, teammates, and his rivals. Speaking of rivals, I am glad Larry Bird was also part of this documentary and he had his own narrative about their rivalry and games. But Larry’s contribution to Magic’s documentary is an acknowledgment that one of the greatest sports rivalries that encompassed in the 1980s developed a respect for each other.

The icing on the cake is when the show also features Michael Jordan. You know it is a huge ask when the greatest basketball player of all time shows up in a documentary of another basketball legend. Although, there are other legends to talk about Magic like Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Michael is a different picture. And Michael Jordan already had a blast talking about his dynasty exactly two years ago. So this means a lot. And why not? Before the Bulls dynasty began, it was Magic’s Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s that dominated. This is like MJ passes the torch of the dynasty to MJ, especially in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Besides his basketball career, there is quite an insider about a complex love story of Magic and his wife Cookie. The story has been stretched to, I feel, more than the screen length could have demanded. I felt Magic’s post-basketball career deserved more minutes than the affair. There was really a tremendous contribution he made as an investor when he started an investment company, Magic Johnson Enterprises.

One thing I would like to address about this documentary to the readers and the audience is not to compare it with HBO‘s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty due to many reasons. One, ‘Winning Time’ is about the entire Lakers dynasty while ‘They Call Me Magic’ is only about Magic. Two, the former is a television drama that is inspired by Jeff Pearlman‘s book, ‘Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s‘ while the latter features the players giving their input through interviews. The former is scripted and fictionalized for a dramatic touch to attract the audience while the latter doesn’t compromise on authenticity as the real people show up describing their stories and incidents.

Nothing to take away from ‘Winning Time’, I loved that show as a drama that came into existence through any network that was based on basketball but the tone of entertaining the audience shall be limited to enjoying the Lakers’ glory rather than digging facts about its being real or fictional. I wished that ‘Winning Time’ would have been 100% accurate but it is okay because now we have another source on the television format, and that is ‘They Call Me Magic’.

In my opinion, the biggest plus of watching this documentary is not only to understand the ‘magic’ he spelled that started a dynasty but more than that, the show heavily convinces the audience that it was Magic Johnson who stepped NBA up financially. Before him, NBA’s fame and state were different from each other. The fame was there but the state was economically awful. The television ratings were declining, and the spectators were diminishing. The shocking fact about NBA before the 1980s is that the show was not popular enough to be on prime time. One of the major reasons was too much violence and the NBA was considered too black to be termed as drug-infested. The racial standards were poor. So Magic’s arrival changed the fate and face of the NBA who established himself as a superstar in college basketball. His popularity gradually increased and became the most talking point when his becoming a pro was on the cards.

Therefore, ‘They Call Me Magic’ is a celebration and an honest tribute to a wonderful career.

TV Review: Mare of Easttown

Detective sergeant Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet) is a well-known heroic figure in her neighborhood of Easttown, a small town in Chester County of Pennsylvania. But she has faced a trembling year in quest of a missing girl that has raised many eyebrows over her detective skills. Also, she suffers the worst possible personal crisis due to a divorce, a custody battle, and a son lost in suicide. And during all this, the cops find a body in the forest park one morning. She is Erin (Cailee Spaeny), a teenage mother, who was fighting a custody battle for her kid with her ex-boyfriend.

Looking at this magnificent miniseries and the continuity of the plot, I am surprised that Mare Of Easttown is neither adapted from a novel nor is based on a true incident. In fact, I am impressed by the quality of production that they came up with such a presentation that makes the audience believe that this may all be true. But to some extent, Mare of Easttown is somehow the story of everyday people which is why it makes you believe in the bullet detailing of the screenplay. It gives you a real feeling the way the whole show is dramatized like a cop who is sensitive to blood, an old man confessing an affair at his wife’s funeral, a priest alleged for raping a minor, a mentally disabled girl bullied in the school, the old couple who tries to figure how to set up a security camera, and many more.

ERIN McMENAMIN

The character of Erin in the first episode is the most fitting epitome of bad social treatment. I have watched so many television characters develop well but have taken time to grow with more than one episode. But Erin whose character lived for just one episode has to be the fastest growth-developing character in recent years. It was phenomenal writing about a character that screamed louder the more she gets unsettled. Facing the hardship of becoming a mother as a teenager, she suffered rigidity from her father and her ex-boyfriend who should have emotionally backed her instead of being unsupportive. How heartbreaking it was to see Erin get beaten in the park and the ex-boyfriend doing nothing but watching and enjoying it.

All the major characters in Easttown are affected by Erin’s murder. They are socially distressed and contribute to the plot which is another impressive point of the drama.

MARE SHEEHAN

There have been many detective stories with the central character in the uniform always portrayed to suffer due to his/her line of work and in person. So there is nothing new about Mare but the reason why Mare’s typical character is picked and praised highly over others in recent times is because of touching the deepest aspects of her life very rightly, addressing her miseries peculiarly, giving enough screen length to suffocate between her roles as a mother of a dead son, ex-wife in a troubled marriage, irresolute to her line of work, and doubtful heroism that has faded since no trace of a missing child in an unsolved crime case. Mare is hanging loosely on the walls of many parallels with no success and optimism.

And the most impressive factor of all – Kate Winslet. How much do you have to influence a character to your body that the audience traces no sign of the actor’s stunning performance but feels the pain of Mare Sheehan? I am lost at how Meryl Streep a performance can be. This has to be Kate’s best performance since ‘The Reader‘. There was everything about the role, her body language, the Delco accent of the Phillys, the facial translation of emotional distress, rage, frustration, and God knows what else. The only scene in the entire series she laughed was so natural and visibly showed to the audience that her guffaw came out after all the bad things happening to that lady and was so necessary.

Unnecessary Developments

Yes, there are elements that looked pretty forced and time-consuming. Mare’s daughter Siobhan (Angourie Rice) had unnecessary sequences for her relationship with the radio jockey that had nothing to do with either plot or sub-plot. It clearly looked like this segment was dramatized to keep the LGBTQ+ community happy. The second is Mare’s love interest Richard Ryan, a writer and professor played by Guy Pearce. This character had absolutely no importance to the story and wasted quite heavy minutes in the development. In the beginning, I assumed that Richard’s character will be later linked to Erin’s murder somehow but he had no connection at all and was generally there for Mare. Giving so many minutes to his presence made no sense. The only theory that makes Richard in the story applicable is that his existence gave Mare’s unhappy life an opportunity to find positivity. She badly needed counseling so he was there. The same error in Detective Colin’s character, played by Evan Peters, who was brought to assist Mare in the crime case. First, he was awkward and I have never understood why the assistant or vice to a detective or a cop has to be a little dumb or less confident. And then, out of nowhere, Colin falls in love with Mare. Why would you do that?

But yes, the makers of the show deserve special praise for funny sequences that occurred in such a dark drama out of nowhere. Not a single time did the comedy look forced and fitted so well. Mare’s mother Helen was a source of bringing excitement many times.

CLOSING REMARKS

Mare Of Easttown is another masterpiece that propels me to advise the television audience to prefer HBO over any network if they are willing to try a miniseries. HBO looks like a dominant force for limited writing and has impressed with many quality contents in recent years like Watchmen, Chernobyl, The Night Of, and a few more. The winner of 4 Emmies, the show deserves every credit for being one of the best suspense and detective thrillers in recent years.

Film Review: Prey (2022)

Naru is a young Comanche woman who, along with other tribal people, lives in the Northern Great Plains in the early eighteenth century. Seeking recognition amongst men by becoming a hunter, she witnesses a spaceship in the clouds. Later on, some brutal animal killings make her realize that this hunter is enormous in size and not a human but no one believes her until the predator steps into their territory and starts killing her people and animals.

Prey is a prequel to the Predator franchise, a celebrated science fiction horror series that established cult status in the 1980s. After producing four Predator films and multiple crossovers with Alien, an idea was coined to work on the origins of the predator. I find it an interesting idea to develop a predator’s origins to be traced three hundred years back, an idea that is applicable due to its being extraterrestrial specie. Plus the idea of such a specie in the historic setup is pretty fresh.

What makes Prey more remarkable is the technical brilliance maneuvered in a Comanche subtlety. How fascinating it is to watch authentic portrayals of indigenous North Americans! It never looked like Prey fell into stereotypical portrayals degrading the particular communities into something one-dimensional. This was certain because film producer Jhane Myers is a Comanche and belongs to a Blackfoot Confederacy.

How captivating are the camera work and the directional value enhances the slow proceedings without haste with Naru as the central figure struggling to build a repo. Until the predator shows up, the screenplay is well settled and the audience has been made fully excited to make guesses about how on earth is Naru going to fight herself against such a creature.

It is a win-win impetus when the feminine portrayal of struggle and gallantry is well dramatized. Naru is Wonder Woman in the Predator’s world. Her heroism never fades and at no point does the story takes the liberty to drop a foolish act of exaggerating the screenplay for the sake of entertainment.

Prey is dark, plunged into appealing action sequences with the strong support of Dan Trachtenberg‘s direction and the lively appearance of Amber Midthunder who never makes you dull and dizzy in limited plotting. The life of tribespeople is well dramatized and emphasized in their usual routine by the break of the morning. Observe, the first scene and another that occurred in around twenty-eight minutes with Naru waking up and looking at other people leaving for work.

There are pretty few minuses but the one that reflects my dislikeness is not making the whole film in the Comanche language. The realism would have met its utter respect and authenticity if the Comanche people were merely speaking their own language instead of English.

Besides, I feel Prey has done its part and there is no sign of getting disappointed at all. This film has upgraded the cult interest of the global audience for the Predator franchise and holds a lot of promises for Predator’s future prequel films continuity.

RATINGS: 8.6/10

TV Review: The Sandman

STORY

To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.

‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.


PRODUCTION

After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.

The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.

I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.


PLUSSES

There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.

Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.

The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.

This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.

Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.


MINUSES

A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.

Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.


COMIC ADAPTATION

This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.

Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.

I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.

Or when John Dee was thanked.

In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.

The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.

Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.

Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.

The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.

The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.

Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.

Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.

Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.

Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.


CLOSING REMARKS

There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.

I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.

The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.

To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.

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