What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #63

I thought it would be nice to do one more of these posts before the end of the month. I thought I haven’t been watching very much, but in reality, I’ve just not been able to binge a lot. So, at the end of this post, you’ll find shows that I’m currently watching as they release weekly, in case you want to talk about any of those. I’ll keep my thoughts in the post to a brief sentence, but feel free to go more in depth in a discussion! I’m always down for TV talk!

Outer Banks (Season 2)

I was so very pumped to get this show back, because it was my absolute obsession last summer. I like the way it mixes The OC with what feels like the Goonies and has some really well rounded characters in it. Returning to that world now, I didn’t vibe as much with the show as I did last time.

Kiara used to be my favorite character alongside JJ, but they made some very odd choices for her storyline. While there were some unrealistic scenarios before, I couldn’t help but get annoyed or frustrated with certain character changes and choices this time around. Some problems literally would have been non-existent if people could just control their temper (and I’m not talking about the bad guys here), but most of all, I’m surprised that these kids aren’t dead. As much as I want them all safe and sound, I can’t wrap my head around some of them still being alive. It just … didn’t make sense.

But now on to the things I liked. I’m so glad that Pope got a bigger spotlight this season, because I felt like he was a bit forgotten in Season 1. We start to dive into his family more and ultimately manage to continue the treasure hunt element in a way that ties it neatly to previous events and gives us plenty of material for the future. JJ remains a favorite, just because he is super messy and funny and I want to give him a hug. Also, we get a new character that I adore – Cleo! They really did us all a favor by introducing her.

The last thing I want to say is, it very much feels like they are trying to set everyone up as a couple now, all the pairs ready to go. As much as I shipped Kiara and JJ last time and can see them wanting to put Cleo and Pope together, I kind of understand all the people shipping JJ and Pope, Kiara with John B or Sarah and Cleo. Not gonna lie, in that group, almost any pairing makes sense. I hope they won’t shy away from including something a little less … heteronormative.

Never Have I Ever (Season 2)

I had fun with the season, although I have to say that the secondhand embarrassment and cringe sometimes becomes a bit much for me. Where Season 1 had a tendency to go deeper on Ben rather than Paxton, this season switched things around and focused on Paxton instead. It’s really hard to choose a team (although I still think I might favor Ben?), but in the end, I like seeing Devi develop outside of the boys as well. Her family dynamic is always so interesting to me and I like that she doesn’t always have her emotions in check. I hope they can elaborate on these aspects without having to introduce new characters each season.

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Season 2)

Again, I wasn’t vibing with this season as much as the last, but I enjoyed some different characters getting their due spotlight and especially for Courtney and Carlos getting to sing. My favorite in all of this, however, remains Gina. I love her character and I just want happiness for her. I’m so over the whole Rini drama, it’s the least fun part of the entire show. Ashley and Big Red are a way superior couple, if we have to focus on those …

The Last Letter From Your Lover

When I starte the movie, the aesthetic and split timeline gave me huge W./E. vibes (a film directed by Madonna), which is a plus in my eyes. In the end, it was a lovely movie with very few surprises. I think you pretty much get what you expect and that’s not a bad thing. I would say that it didn’t need a run time of almost two hours, but the visuals were very nice. I was definitely drawn to it by the cast and they all delivered what I wanted from them. I don’t think it will be a story that necessarily lingers in your mind very long, but it’s sweet and hopeful and romantic (if you can tune out all the cheating).

Shows I Watch Weekly

Gossip Girl (Reboot) – I’m really enjoying myself with this one, even though I cannot stand the teachers at all. As for actual teen characters, I need a little bit more development from a lot of them, but it all feels very promising.

Roswell, New Mexico (Season 3) – Last year, I declared Maria and Gregory as my crackship AND THEY ARE MAKING IT INTO A REAL SHIP. (I’d like to think that me campaigning for them as a couple was partially responsible for that new storyline.)

Schmigadoon – It’s a musical. It’s a relationship drama. It’s hilarious and unexpected.

Ted Lasso (Season 2) – Did not expect Ted to have such a hard time with the idea of therapy, but just happy to have my comfort show back!

Superman & Lois – I haven’t talked about the show much, but I kind of love it? The fact that this is so much about family and less about the superhero business makes it really endearing to me. Also, the twins (especially Jonathan) are great.

Animal Kingdom (Season 5) – Eh, I always enjoy this one more when I binge it rather than watching it weekly, but we’ll see how long I stick with it this time around.

Good Trouble (Season 3) – I’m so sorry to say that I mostly watch for Davia, because there’s so many great and important storylines, but … I do.

A bunch of reality TV – I need something that doesn’t require my brain to actively work, so I frequently tune in to Love Island (UK), The Hills: New Beginnings, Siesta Key …


What are your thoughts? Do we watch some of the same stuff? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #62

I’ve watched shockingly little as of late, so it took me quite a while to garner enough material for another post of What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching. I decided to leave out the backdoor pilot for All American: Homecoming and the pilot for Gossip Girl, but if you want to talk about those – I’m all ears in the comments! Now on to what I actually planned for this post.

Elite (Shorts before the start of S4)

I still haven’t watched the actual Season 4 (as I said, I’ve barely been watching anything as of late), so please no spoilers for that just yet. I’ll definitely post about it once I got around to it though. As for the shorts, I think there was an order in which to watch them, but I just went by who I liked most … anyway, I tried to talk about them in the order you should watch them below though. At least I think so.

Carla/Samuel

Honestly, those two always bored me a little. The fact that their short story started with one of my most dreaded tropes (the “chase to the airport before the love interest leaves” will never be something I enjoy … having worked at an airport and all) didn’t exactly help me warm up to them. Can’t say much more than that, but if you’re a fan … maybe you’d like them more?

Omar/Ander/Alexis

I like Omar and Ander, but they are messy and this was such a sad short for them. I guess it helped ease the viewers into something that will happen in S4 (from what I heard), but I wasn’t 100% sure if the short was the right format for the emotionality of it all. It worked for me, but I think it could have been even more effective with more time.

Guzmán/Caye/Rebe

Can I just say that this was the oddest trio to pick? I mean, I don’t remember a single scene where these characters had shared the screen in a meaningful way before, so it was just odd. Their short gave off major chaotic energy, which was probably supported by the fact that they were high for a huge part of it.

Nadia/Guzmán

This was the one short I came for and I loved it. Their relationship was always so interesting to me, despite also hitting a few clichés on the way and I love to see them continue to work on it. Long distance is hard, but it can work and they’d be good candidates for it.

Good on Paper

It’s still so wild to me that this is based on Iliza Shlesinger’s (the lead actress) actual real life experiences. You might be familiar with a lot of the themes and some of the scenes from her stand up programs, I mean, the woman really milked that break up, but the movie was still fun and just good for her. You have to watch it to understand just how messed up it all is.

Black Widow

This movie is … about five years too late. Like, literally most of the movie takes part right after Civil War and that’s when we should have all been able to watch it. I stand by that opinion and don’t think I will change it anytime soon. However, that doesn’t make it any less great of a film.

As much of the phase 4 productions have proven, the cinematography of this era of Marvel content is just on a whole other level. Everything feels grounded, natural, obviously beautiful and yet doesn’t hold back on the spectacular fights and grand-scale visuals we are used to. The casting was also impeccable, especially the younger versions of Natasha and Yelena were the perfect lookalikes.

I honestly do not know how Nat made it through the entire movie, because her injuries and recovery were surreal. However, all of this was still such a lovely tale about (found) family, proving that Nat had more than “just” the Avengers and that she deserves her badass status. I’m going to look forward to seeing some of these new characters appear again in the future. The post-credit scene promises great things!


Have you watched any of the things I mentioned? Do you plan to? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #61

I’ve been going through some shows and thought I’d better update you all before the list becomes too long. I’ll also start getting busier again come next week, and I just wanted to make sure I have some content out there for you! Let’s take a look at what I’ve watched!

Sweet Tooth (Season 1)

Sweet Tooth is the adaptation of a DC/Vertigo comic of the same name by no one other than the Downey Team. While RDJ may not have starred in this show, he really made this a passion project of his. I was lucky enough to get to attend an exclusive (virtual) preview screening of the first episode before its official release and I was really positively surprised and binged the rest of the show soon after it was out in the world.

While this show follows 10-year-old Gus, it is by no means a show for kids. Oftentimes quite dark, it poses a lot of moral questions, while maintaining that incredible undercurrent of hope and resilience. I was a bit hesitant when it all started with a deadly virus going around (speaking about timely and possibly not wanting to reminded of that), but the heart and emotion drew me in. It’s a curious story and I hope they get to continue to tell more about it, because they really stopped at one of the most interesting crossroads.

Love, Victor (Season 2)

I was so looking forward to the return of this show and liked the themes they went with during this season. Of course, we still have the endless romantic teen drama, but there was a heavy focus on parenting that I quite enjoyed. It’s hard to unlearn things that have been ingrained in you since you were a kid and sometimes we need outside help to get our act together. Shown through various scenarios with almost all different characters, we see how it’s not just the teens having a tough time, but also the adults. I always appreciate when shows manage a balance in those departments.

Most of the time, these days at least, people expect that coming out isn’t a big deal anymore, when there’s still a lot of communities that places that don’t have happy coming out stories to tell at all. I like that the show didn’t shy away from showing struggle in that regard, without making it entirely hopeless and soul-crushing.

My favorite storyline of the season was probably Felix’ and his mother’s, but I’m biased, because he is my favorite character in general.

Ragnarok (Season 2)

The way I was excited for this season and then kind of disappointed with what I got … I don’t really know if I have the words to describe how I feel.

On the one hand, I was so happy to see all those characters that had grown on me again, but on the other hand, I felt like a lot of them were acting out of character this season. They really leaned heavily into Norse mythology and added a lot of additional gods, but I can’t say I enjoyed their involvement. In general, there were some really wild storylines and even though there were still beautiful themes about family and destiny and morality, I thought it was all a lot more muddled and less clear than during the last season. I was way more confused about the motivation of some people than I should have been.

Bo Burnham: Inside

This is not a comedy special. I’m sorry, I just can’t call it that.

Inside made me feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic, while it was also relevant and meaningless at the same time. I know that Bo Burnham is a genius, but words are failing me with this special. I literally don’t know how to describe what I watched, but I hope he’s okay.


Have you watched any of these? Do you plan to? I’d really like to know your thoughts!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #60

Before the end of the month, I definitely wanted to do another of these posts to showcase what I had been watching. As I’ve gotten back into network television and I don’t tend to mention these shows on here (but feel free to always assume that I am up to date with most of the weekly releases), this post won’t be super long. Enjoy!

Panic (Season 1)

Panic is an Amazon Original show based on the YA novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver. I actually read this book years ago (I think all the way back in 2014???), but I honestly can’t remember much about it and I know that to be true, because I was genuinely shocked by some of the twists on the show.

Where the book was written from a dual POV (Heather and Dodge), the show focuses on even more key players of the game Panic with a clear bias towards Heather and her perspective though. Having so many characters the audience is supposed to care about can be tricky and I don’t think it fully managed to make us invested in all of them. I found a couple performances really intriguing and even liked minor side characters, but definitely not all of the mains. The relationship between Heather and Ray was something that kept me interested. I have a soft spot for the boy who is always presumed to be the worst, but who actually really cares.

As for the premise in general, I find it hard to judge these teens for playing a game as stupid as Panic. First of all, this wouldn’t be the first time a really upsetting tradition was created in a small-knit and poor community, no matter how reckless participating is, and secondly, I truly believe that these characters thought taking part was the only way out for them. Of course, the thrill-seekers of the bunch are morons for playing a potentially lethal game, but if you had nothing to your name and all you wanted was to escape a place and your circumstances … maybe you would consider it too?

All in all, I really enjoyed the show. I binged it in one go and liked the thrill that came with some of the challenges. The acting was wooden in part, which didn’t help me connect to the characters, but as I said above, there were a couple performances I really enjoyed. The game in itself is something you just have to believe in no matter the plot holes for this work. A lot of the mystery is just for the mystery’s sake and the viewers know even less than the characters while watching, which can be frustrating at times. Still, I would watch another season.

Special (Season 2)

I had a great time watching Special when it first released on Netflix. I think they managed to get to do longer episodes this season (even if it was only by a little) and it helped strengthen their narrative. We weren’t stuck with last season’s plot at all, but naturally evolved with the characters. So much of it was finding out who you want to spend your time with after you’ve learned to love yourself, which isn’t an easy feat to begin with, but you might not want to compromise or settle. Kim’s love life was a highlight for me, because I adore that she just had men worshiping her. I love to see big girl love.

Army of the Dead

Not going to lie, this isn’t my genre at all. I’m not into zombie movies in general (Warm Bodies being the rare exception), but I genuinely wanted to see how Matthias Schweighöfer would fare among these other Hollywood actors. He must have made a great impression since his character is getting a prequel movie, which he will also direct and I found his character a really good comic relief.

In general, this movie was much more fun that I thought it would be. It has some weaknesses, but the zombies were different than the ones I’m used to and I felt entertained, which is the most important part anyway. I can see how this would lead to an entire cinematic zombie universe of its own, because there is definitely potential for sequels, especially some that are set outside of the US.

Doors

I don’t know why I felt to watch an anthology horror movie with extraterrestrial doors in the middle of the night, but I did. It weirdly gave me annihilation vibes and everything about the sound design and the visuals is specifically made to make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I was a little put off by the way writing was incorporated in the movie, but it definitely added to the unique style. I didn’t end up loving it, because it made me feel super off and wasn’t a very satisfying watch in my opinion, but I don’t regret checking it out.


I’m currently watching the second season of Ragnarok, so you can be sure that I will talk about that once the next post rolls around. What are you watching? Do you plan to view or have you already seen any of the things I mentioned?

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #59

I watched some stuff and they thematically all felt like they were in a similar realm, so I thought it was time to share all of that. I tend to forget that I do these posts and then content piles up, but not today. Two shows and two movies, that’s a decent amount. Here we go!

*I noticed that I scratched the “for fans of” section in the last post and don’t know if anyone is missing that bit, but I’m leaving it out here too. If you want me to bring it back, let me know in the comments!*

Jupiter’s Legacy (Part 1)

TW: suicide, gore, violence, substance abuse

I’m a huge sucker for all superhero content. Where other people moan and whine about networks and studios releasing more and more of these kind of projects, I relish them and Jupiter’s Legacy was high up on my excitement list. I have not read the comics the show is based on, but because it’s a Mark Millar one, I was prepared for it to be violent. Compared to other shows out there (e.g. The Boys), it was actually alright on that front though, but let’s start at the beginning.

One thing you will have to look past right from the get go are the terrible wigs and the make up etc. that is supposed to make the cast look aged. It’s just ridiculous and lacks authenticity, but I understand why they wanted the same actors through all the stages of the show. The pilot immediately drew me in and set up an interesting premise. Split into two distinct timelines, you have the main characters in the late 1920s on their journey to getting their powers as well as the struggles they now face in the present day. Personally, I thought that the balance between those storylines could have been handled better, because I had a hard time connecting (and liking) some of the new generation characters. In the beginning I was frustrated with how long it took us to accompany the characters in the past, but looking back, every bit of that was needed and I got chills when they finally go their powers.

These heroes live by a code! They don’t kill and they don’t govern, because they need to inspire humanity to do better and not rule them instead. Overall, I think that’s a beautiful sentiment and I was impressed to learn that the old guard had never killed anyone in the 90 years they were active. None of the Avengers or the Justice League could claim that … but it’s also not a practicable code in some situations that simply are life or death, which ultimately sets up one of the biggest conflicts of the season. As a viewer, I didn’t even know what side to take, because I want to believe that situations can be solved non-violently, but at the same time I’ve never been in a “it’s you or me” predicament.

Overall, this season won’t answer all your questions, but is a really good set up for the world and the problems ahead. I was left to wonder about so many characters and needed more info on quite a lot of them, but this is part 1 of a much larger story and I, for one, am excited to see more.

Invincible (Season 1)

TW: gore, violence

I don’t watch many animated shows, but so many people hyped it up and the voice cast is absolutely amazing, I just waited until all episodes were out and binged it in one go. Ultimately, I’d say Invincible definitely deserved the hype it got.

I always enjoy a bit of a different look on a show about superheroes and don’t mind it when they get a bit jaded. I find this show difficult to review without spoiling anything, but I loved the twists and corrupt morals. Mark still has a lot to learn, but they set up amazing storylines for him in the future. All throughout the season, the stakes just got higher and higher, but in all honesty, the people who are coming for Amber on social media can miss me with that bullsh*t. How anyone can claim that a teenage girl who was able to communicate her boundaries clearly was the true villain compared to the actual one who committed genocide and mass murder is beyond me.

Season 2 and 3 are already approved, so people can be sure to get more Invincible content!

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

I was surprised by just how much I loved this movie, but oh boy, I did.

To say that the animation was like nothing I had ever seen before might be a bit of an overstatement, but it felt fresh and unique and engaging. There’s a lot going on in terms of visuals and I would not recommend it to people who struggle with flashing images, but I had a grand time with it, although it really is borderline too much sometimes.

The story revolves around family and growing up and pursuing your dreams, but is set in a ridiculous scenario that just ups the fun tenfold. The generational divide was so well handled and made some really good points. I laughed so much watching the movie, but it also brought me to tears and I just can’t deny that Sony is really stepping up their game when it comes to animation movies these days. Definitely something for the whole family, even with older kids.

This movie *almost* made me want to adopt two broken robot boys, even if they might try to take over the world with the wrong software update.

Bliss

TW: homelessness, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, mentions of undefined mental illness

I was interested in this movie, because 1.) my former roommate’s husband was the cinematographer for it and 2.) the trailer looked really interesting, but I’m sad to say that I did not love it.

Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek are an odd choice for the leads here. While they are both capable of great performances on their own, I didn’t buy into them being soulmates at all. Their chemistry together was just off, which made scenes awkward and less credible. However, I will say that I love Nesta Cooper getting roles in big productions and I wish she had been in this movie even more than she was. She will always be a highlight for me.

Aside from that, I just really struggled with the story as a whole. I didn’t know if it was all part of a depressing metaphor for mental illness, or if it was supposed to be about an actual multiple-reality-story like so many great sci-fi movies and shows have done before. Even at the end, I was not sure and it bothered me? On the one hand, I liked the end, but on the other hand, I didn’t find it satisfying at all. Maybe I just really wasn’t the right viewer, because I did not understand it.


Have you watched any of these shows or movies? Do you plan to? Let’s talk about it!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #58

I wanted to wait with this post until I had watched Shadow and Bone, but then I wrote a whole post just about the show yesterday. If you’ve missed it, you can check it out here, although I have to warn you that I did not hold back and went into detail quite a bit. Anyway, I still have plenty of shows and movies to talk about, so, let’s get started!

Starstruck (Season 1)

It was impossible to find a trailer for this show on Youtube, so I hope you can live with the link to the twitter post, but what a shame! Because this show was so adorable and funny and heartfelt.

I’ve always liked Rose Matafeo as a comedian and this was a passion project of hers for several years. She plays a woman in her late twenties, who just sort of got stuck in London after failed relationships that brought her to the country. Then, one night, she meets a famous actor (without knowing that fact about him) and a whirlwind romance starts.

The six episodes are short (roughly twenty minutes), but span over the course of a year. It has this kind of self-insert wish-fulfillment quality to it, in a way that makes you wonder if maybe a handsome actor could also fall madly in love with you if you just met them at the right time. I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed the open end that left the possibility for more. Genuinely think this is a hidden gem in the BBC programming.

Mythic Quest: Everlight (Single Episode)

I love Mythic Quest. It’s one of my favorite workplace comedies (which seem to be a specialty of Apple TV) and I like how they bridged the gap between Season 1 and Season 2 so far. Their quarantine episode literally had me sobbing, but I didn’t expect the Everlight episode to also hit home. While I wasn’t ugly-crying, I can’t deny how beautiful and uplifting Everlight was. It really brought the team back and set up the new season in a great way and I admired the use of CGI as well. So freaking well done! It may just have been one episode, but it made me so excited for the new content that will come May 7.

Dad Stop Embarrassing Me (Season 1)

Not going to lie, this isn’t really my kind of sitcom. It’s the laugh tracks and the characters turning to the screen to break the fourth wall. It’s kind of like The Crew wasn’t my thing either. I mostly ended up watching it for Heather Hemmens, because that woman has me in her grasp, and for that alone it was totally worth it! The show actually covered some deeper topics than I thought it would and I’m sure it will find its audience.

The Letter Room 

I don’t talk about short films often, but this one has Oscar Isaac. Need I say more?

Admittedly, my knowledge of the prison system is mostly from films and books. It’s essentially not a topic I have spent much time on, but I thought it was handled in an interesting way here. As Oscar’s character gets assigned to the letter room, to scan all correspondence, he gets too attached to a certain exchange. It all boils down to the fact that we all need someone to love us and I enjoyed this interpretation of it.

Monday

I was so excited for this movie, because I like Sebastian Stan’s random indie movie choices. However, this movie unfortunately didn’t manage to capture me. I’ll just copy and paste my letterboxd review (feel free to add me!):

Some relationships are like Fridays. You’re done with work, you’re ready for the weekend and the freedom that comes with it. There’s lots of sex, music, dancing and partying without thinking ahead too much. Why care about your troubles from the work week as long as you get to enjoy the now, right?
Well, at the end of it all, you still have to face Monday. The reality of life and all its messiness and your choices.

Monday (the movie) shows two broken people who would rather get lost in each other and ignore all their issues in favor of passion. It doesn’t always work and while I am sure people enjoy the various sex and nude scenes, they’re a lot and often just an avoidance in order not to have to deal with the real problems. The end is odd and open, because you’ve never seen them facing their issues and this might be the first step towards doing that, but the movie leaves you a bit empty and with a feeling of doom for the couple.


Have you watched anything I mentioned? Do you want to? Let’s talk about it!

My Thoughts on the Shadow and Bone Netflix Adaptation!

It has been no secret just how very excited I was for the Shadow and Bone series (as well as the Six of Crows duology) to be adapted by Netflix. While the streaming platform doesn’t always get it right, I was really optimistic early on and the trailers looked fantastic. Before I watched it, though, I caught up on all the books as to really know what I am talking about (only Rule of Wolves is missing for me now, but that’s irrelevant for the show at the moment) and even before going into details on my thoughts, I think they did a great job!

Obviously, the Grishaverse is huge and vast and has quite the fanbase because of the books series. But not everyone has read those and Netflix offers a platform that exposes the material to millions of people all over the world. Not everyone will be happy with everything, but I would like share my personal opinions in the following post.

*I could not do this without going into detail on some topics, so this might not be for you if you want to go into the show with as little knowledge as possible. SPOILERS ahead!!!*

THINGS/CHANGES I DIDN’T LIKE

I want to get the “bad” things out of the way, because some of it really irked me. It did not overshadow my enjoyment entirely, because I binged the show in a day, but I find it necessary to point them out regardless.

  • Casting Jessie Mei Li as Alina was a beautiful choice. Jessie is a ray of sunshine and hence amazing to watch as the sun summoner. They have great chemistry with on screen partners and I’m so very glad they got cast for this role. In the books, Alina wasn’t biracial though. This was a choice made to bring more diversity to the on screen adaptation, but where they went wrong (in my opinion) was by adding anti-Asian slurs and racism to portray the treatment of people from Shu Han. Nowhere in the books was this kind of racism ever present and we are dealing with a Fantasy world where Alina already faces enough struggles and could have dealt with a number of different circumstances that made her feel othered if that was what they wanted to portray so badly. Every time they inserted a slur such as “rice-eater” or “half-breed” it felt forced and unnecessary and I imagine hurtful to certain audiences. The problem is that they never contextualize this behavior, because they simply claim that being at war with Shu Han is enough to warrant the hostility, but that’s really not the take they thought it was.
credit: Netflix
  • Amplifiers in the books, while still kind of barbaric, are jewelry made out of bones/scales/claws/etc. and can be anything from a necklace to a bracelet or ring. Grisha can only have one amplifier in their lifetime (yeah, I know exceptions exist) and can never take it off. The Grisha who killed the animal the amplifier is from has the power over it. I think that’s all pretty cut and clear, so, why did the show change them into some kind of body horror?
    When the Darkling puts the antlers on Alina, she does not get a badass necklace, but rather the antlers fuse into her collar bone, making it an extremely uncomfortable scene to watch. I worry about this change, not just because she eventually absorbs the antlers into her body entirely and they are not visible anymore at all, but also because it makes me feel that the producers thought putting a literal collar on a person was not horrific enough and they needed another violation of Alina’s body to showcase the Darkling’s evil nature. Apparently, people wouldn’t be put off enough by his disregard for consent and need to control everyone around him.
  • Speaking of the Darkling! Due to budget constraints and everyone adoring Ben Barnes (he is a great actor), they opted to not show the Demon in the Woods short story as part of a flashback, where the Darkling would have been only 10 years old, but rather showed a grown up Darkling. In that tidbit from the past, he seemed enamored with a Grisha called Luda, who did not exist in the books, but came across as a love interest in that scene. Her death causes the creation of the Fold, making it feel like fridging (where the girlfriend/wife/love interest of the male protagonist dies in order to propel his story). In an interview with Insider, the showrunner explicitly said they weren’t trying to do that and even actively tried to avoid it, but nothing in that scene told me they weren’t romantically involved. (You can read the interview here!)
    Also, I keep calling him the Darkling, because that’s how I knew him for 7 books. Yes, his first name is Aleksander, but in the books that’s revealed very late. His name is a mystery and Alina is the only person in that world to know it, which felt special, but here he just throws his name around like it means nothing. The show really humanised him a lot.
credit: Netflix

GENRAL STUFF I ENJOYED OR NOTICED

The following points that I will mention were neither huge mistakes nor masterful choices. I just collected some of my thoughts that I found interesting or necessary to mention to give you all a complete picture.

  • As someone who has read all the books, short stories and anthologies (Language of Thorns and Lives of Saints), I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the Grishaverse. However, had I been someone who didn’t have that prior knowledge, I could have easily seen myself struggle with some of the concepts. They really barely explained anything to do with Grisha orders, amplifiers or something as simple but vital as the belief systems (Fjerdan god vs. Ravkan sainsts etc.). I doubt that anyone could understand some of the important components to their full extent having none of that knowledge and background info. Whereas I understand it’s difficult to include, a little more would have been appreciated from my side.
  • While waiting for the show to release, I always said that I did not care about the faithfulness of the story, but rather about the accurate representation of the characters and their personality and I still stand by that. Yes, Jesper should have been played by a dark-skinned actor, but Kit Younger has his personality DOWN. And not just him, EVERYONE either behaved exactly like I imagined they would (even if they didn’t all look like they had in my head) or even improved on the characters by playing them softer and with more nuance and vulnerability (e.g. Matthias Helvar). I cannot wait to see who they will bring in for the twins, Nikolai and Wylan next season.
credit: Netflix
  • The overall pacing and the amount of story they packed into this first season was well handled. From what I heard, the showrunner has a three-season-plan, which would correlate nicely with the three Shadow and Bone books. I really hope that the next season would also start implementing the Six of Crows plot, because this was a nice prequel to their characters, but I need to see the big heist happening. However, since everything is more interconnected, they might change things up further and I’d be excited to see what that looks like.

SOME IMPROVEMENTS

In some cases, I even think that the show did better than the book. Having the ability to show several points of view, whereas Shadow and Bone the book only offered Alina’s side really gave them the chance to explore the characters some more. Also, it probably helped that the producers already knew about all the later books Leigh Bardugo wrote as well. Here’s some changes I thought worked well:

  • When I first read Shadow and Bone, I hated Zoya. She literally broke Alina’s ribs and just treated her terribly, because she was jealous. Early on in the books, there are few redeeming qualities to Zoya and while she improves over time, I always felt a grudge until I got her side of things in King of Scars. While she starts out similarly in the show, I was grateful that they allowed an insight into her backstory earlier in the season than in the books. She is such an important character, but I think audiences would have struggled later on, just like I did while reading, if they hadn’t softened her up.
  • I think I am part of a small group of people who actually liked Mal in the books, but I think Archie and the writing on the show made the character so much better. They scratched unnecessary and childish jealousy scenes (which was annoying but fine in the books, because they were younger) and genuinely made his connection to Alina seem sweet and fated. I’m so happy people are now actually rooting for them.
  • Milo the goat is the real MVP.

VERDICT

I loved seeing some of my favorite characters brought to life on the screen. My expectations were high and I could have easily been disappointed but I was really pleased with how everything came together. Shadow and Bone is by no means flawless, but the effort they put into wanting to do the material justice came through. I honestly didn’t know if I would understand the involvement of the crows before watching, but it was integrated beautifully and they provided some of the best parts of the season. If you enjoyed the books, I think you will like this as well. Even if you weren’t a huge fan of the Shadow and Bone books, but only enjoyed Six of Crows, I can easily see you liking this better. 

credit: Netflix

Previous Reviews from this books series and Leigh Bardugo’s work:


Have you watched Shadow and Bone yet? Do you plan to? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #57

I’ve watched a decent amount of shows and movies, so, I figured it was time to do mini-reviews again. It has gotten increasingly hard to get enthusiastic about content, which I know I’ve mentioned a couple times already, but I still hope you’ll enjoy the following recaps of my watch habits.

The Irregulars (Season 1)

I don’t know how many of you remember this from the trailer posts, but I was really excited for this show. I’ve always enjoyed stories in the Sherlock realm and this one seemed promising in terms of paranormal excitement. However, I found myself really struggling to get into the whole thing. Parts of it were a bit more horrifying than I might have imagined (getting all my teeth stolen and someone skinning faces and using it for themselves is some of the stuff my nightmares are made of), but I also just didn’t connect to the characters right away. In fact, I actively disliked people such as Jessica and Watson, which were essential for the story and integrity of the group.

All of that aside, I kept watching and while I found a lot of the plot predictable, the final two episodes is where the real heart of the show was lying. Especially in those final moments, I was close to tears and fully invested, so the pay off was 100% there in the end … but it takes its time.

For fans of: Sherlock lore, paranormal events, misfits and found family

Wynonna Earp (Final Season SPOILERS)

*full post on Wynonna Earp and my love for it from the beginning can be found here*

I’ve been a Wynonna Earp fan from the get go. I own a replica Wynonna necklace and a friend once gifted me one of Waverly’s necklaces (to date, one of the best gifts I have ever received and don’t know how to repay) as well as signed copies of the comic books topped with a personalized thank you video from Tim Rozon who plays Doc. So yes, I’m an Earper and not afraid to say it. But … the past two seasons have been a struggle.

With the network and production company struggles, adding the delays due to covid and the constant uncertainty of whether the show would find a new home or not had dampened my excitement considerably. I would be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to tune into each episode, because I just let those episodes pile on and … now the show is over. I know there’s still some hope out there for it to get picked up by someone else, but I was actually pleased with the ending we got.

If you think about it, that final episode gave us almost everything we wanted (cause no one can give us Dolls back and that’s the real shame). I felt like a lot of the past seasons skimmed on Wynonna and Doc thinking or talking about their daughter, so them seeking her out is my ultimate happily ever after. The WayHaught wedding was the pinnacle of what I had envisioned for them and all the remaining characters got a hopeful outlook as well. It was just such a generally sweet goodbye that anything more would ruin that in way?

For fans of: supernatural westerns, badass female characters

Godzilla vs. Kong

Do you watch these movies for plot? Cause then I can promise you this will be a painful experience. The humans are more of a detriment than helpful in most cases, and when they do add to the narrative, they prove to have miraculous insight in something they had no prior knowledge of before. When I’m being completely honest though, it does not matter one bit. I loved seeing Kong communicate and bond with a little deaf girl – she is truly the star of that movie! (And we are going to ignore that she is from the Iwi tribe, which is like saying Chai tea or naan bread … cause Iwi in the Māori-language just means people or “tribe” … so they’d be tribe tribe. But whatever … that’s way beyond my expectations for this movie anyway).

These movies are really supposed to be watched for the monsters bashing each other and for plotholes to be conveniently forgotten or ignored. AND THAT’S OKAY! Do we need to discuss how a high ranking officer’s teen daughter got from the US to Hong Kong? No, let’s just watch Godzilla in Hollow Earth instead. Isn’t Hollow Earth powered by radiation dangerous to humans? Who cares, we have a research center down there now and apparently sunshine as well. You get my drift …

For fans of: monsters fighting each other

Thunder Force

This movie is ridiculous! I am sure there’s people out there who enjoy the humor, but I’m afraid it’s just not my cup of tea. The man who was half-crab … I will never be able to forget that imagery of her buttering him up. I just won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it also has some really nice moments about friendship and family and I enjoyed those very much. It’s just that I didn’t find the funny parts all that funny, but cringy instead, so it was a bit of a mediocre watch. I don’t think it’s a must watch.

For fans of: ridiculousness in the superhero realm

Endings, Beginnings

TW: rape, drug use

People don’t hate this movie, but I barely know anyone who actually liked or enjoyed it a lot – then *I* came along!

Endings, Beginnings is 90% vibes and 10% plot. It’s slow and disjointed and introspective. The storytelling is anything but straight forward and I believe you have to be in a very specific mood to be able to fall in love with it as much as I did. 

Aside from the fact that I know that a lot of the performances were improvised and seemed genuinely authentic, this will make you fall in love with these actors and actresses even more than you possibly were before. I know people mostly watched it for Sebastian Stan (and I GET THAT), but I connected to Shailene’s character so much more than I anticipated. Not allowing yourself to be loved, being adrift, finding your purpose – it hit home way too hard. I really do believe that I will think about this movie and its message for a while, even if you never get a neat end to it.

For fans of: more vibes than plot, non-linear storytelling, “moment in time” rather than conclusive storytelling


Have you watched any of these or do you plan to? What have you been watching lately and do you think I’d enjoy? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #56

Before the end of the month, I wanted to make sure to have another one of these posts ready for you. I have been watching on and off, but not a lot of it with great enthusiasm. This past year, I have consumed so much content that it has become increasingly difficult to really excite me, but I hope I can talk to you about a couple things today!

Calls

TW: emetophobia

Many people will likely say that this show could have easily worked as a podcast, but I actually appreciated the text and visuals provided. They had a certain hypnotizing quality and not seeing what was actually happening beyond the phone call just made it all the more terrifying in many cases.

Overall, this was such a unique and intense experience. It does get a bit repetitive towards the middle, but the overall picture was chilling and even gave me slight Dark vibes. Another very brilliant Apple TV+ production with many well-known voices to enjoy. I keep loving their content!

For fans of: podcasts, strange happenings and ensemble casts

Zero Chill

It’s no secret that I have a thing for ice skating shows. I was ALL for Spinning Out when it premiered on Netflix, just for them to cancel it after one season. To be frank, if I could have picked another season of Spinning Out or this show, Zero Chill, I would have picked the former.

Zero Chill is much more lighthearted than Spinning Out and doesn’t quite convince as much with their performances (on and off the ice). What I originally thought to be about an ice hockey player and a figure skater working together, is rather a drama about a family that struggles to fulfill both their children’s dreams. It has some really great moments, especially when it comes to friendships and relationships in general, but I think it’s one of those shows likely kept on in the background.

For fans of: ice sports

The One

I’m pretty sure we all have heard of a similar concept to that of The One before. Initially, I was intrigued by the genetic component, making it a scientific matter to find your one true soulmate (barring that I think it’s silly to think there’s only ONE person for you out there ever and insinuations that come with it as a whole concept, but the show proves it isn’t that simple anyway). It quickly became obvious that this series isn’t just about romantic struggles though, but has a lot of focus on mystery and thriller elements. The police investigations take up a big chunk of the screentime.

My struggle here was that I simply did not like or care for many of the main characters. It’s really hard to have a story centered on someone you don’t like and especially with the character of Rebecca Webb, you just didn’t know what her endgame was. She seemed ruthless but to what point exactly was unclear to me and when I cannot gauge someone’s motives, I just get frustrated.

But … I’d still let myself get matched if we had the technology … I’m THAT desperate.

For fans of: soulmatery and crime

Country Comfort

This is one of those really silly shows with questionable acting and laugh tracks which you will either put on for the heck of it or not touch with a ten foot poll. It’s up to you! It had some lovely moments about grief, family and moving on, but it’s also the definition of corny and over the top.

For fans of: The Nanny but make it more Christian and country


Did you watch any of those shows as well? Let’s talk!

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #55

I almost forgot doing this post, because I haven’t felt super into watching things lately, but thankfully I keep a list on my phone to track what I’ve already seen. So, you get a little taste of that again!

The Crew

I don’t know why I started out with this one, because I don’t actually have to say all that much. I think after the success of Ted Lasso, more workplace sitcoms (maybe even more set in sports) will pop up, but this wasn’t it. The jokes felt forced, the characters too over the top and cartoonish. In general, a lot of it just had a dated vibe to it, but I guess, if you just want something playing in the background, this works? I’m sure the people involved put a lot of heart into it, but it just didn’t convey that spark to me.

For fans of: workplace sitcoms?

Tribes of Europa

TW: rape, slavery, genocide, mutilation, beheading, suicide, other violent deaths

I wanted to love this show so bad, because 1.) it’s from the producers of Dark and 2.) I’m a fan of many of the German actors and actresses involved but mostly 3.) I’m always rooting for more international Netflix content, which was why this was a bit of a disappointment.

In general, I think the premise is very good. You have a family from a formerly hidden tribe, separated and fighting to find their way back to each other. It offers a great opportunity to show different viewpoints and parts of the world the series is set in. I was also interested in most of the storylines, even if a lot of them were quite brutal, but the dialogue … oh boy, the dialogue was not great. I don’t know if people will notice it as much should they not understand German, but it felt so stilted and unnatural.

For fans of: international Netflix content, post-apocalyptic vibes

Ginny & Georgia

TW: racism, self-harm, domestic abuse, child molestation

Look, I know what’s been going on on social media. Yes, the Taylor Swift joke wasn’t great and yes, some scenes are cringey and could use improvement (even though some clips were taken out of context), but a) don’t you ever dare attack young actors who are just starting out for something the writers did and b) I did not hate it.

I think this show tries. It does not always succeed and if it’s not your thing, by no means should you watch it. But I thought it had some really good portrayal of teenagers in it (and they make mistakes and they are dumb sometimes and do hurtful stuff) and also a really interesting family dynamic and much darker backstory than what it might look like. This is not some new weird spin on Gilmore Girls, this is about doing EVERYTHING for your family, no matter what. Is that always the right thing? No, but the show also never implies that it is. It never felt like they condoned what the characters did or said, but rather portrayed a messy life with some really bad takes, but that’s closer to reality than a lot of other stuff out there?

The show is not perfect! I’m not saying that, because a lot of the criticism is valid. But the young actors were involved in a lot of the scenes that were important to them (the racial debates, etc.) and drew from real life experiences. I don’t think that should be discarded entirely.

For fans of: teen shows with twists

Flora & Ulysses

This movie is just so cute!

Having a home at Disney+, they can make references to all the Marvel heroes, but Flora & Ulysses is a superhero movie all of its own. This squirrel is not just freaking cute, but it will worm its way into your heart for sure. The film works for the whole family and is sure to delight.

For fans of: superhero stuff for kids and the whole family

Moxie

I was really excited for this movie and it did not disappoint (mostly wanted to watch because Anjelika Washington from Stargirl is in it, but ever since I saw the trailer, I knew this was gonna be good). The message isn’t a new one and it sucks that women and girls still have to fight for equality. A lot of teenagers are much more outspoken and braver these days than I ever was. They are observant and less tolerant of antiquated bs, but it’s movies like this that give you the extra boost to believe again that things actually can change. 

For fans of: feminist uplifting storytelling


Did you watch any of the things mentioned above? Do you plan to? Let’s talk about it!