Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Film Review: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015)

© Syfy | Source: ETonline

USA; 88 min.; trash, horror, sci-fi
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante
Writing: Thunder Levin
Cinematography: Ben Demaree
Cast: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, Cassie Scerbo, Frankie Muniz, Ryan Newman, David Hasselhoff, Mark Cuban, Bo Derek

Nova: I'm going to kill all of 'em, every last one of 'em.
Fin: We’ve tried that three times. Didn't seem to work.

"Oh hell yes!" must've been my reaction when I first heard that there was going to be another Sharknado flick. It's a franchise I enjoy quite a bit. I mean, if you've got a thing for movies bloated with bad special effects, cringe-worthy dialogues, second- to third-class actors and a refreshing absence of logic, this is the place to find it. Pair all this with a bunch of flying, blood-thirsty sharks spinning around in a tornado, and you're certain to have created a gem of trash cinema. And that's exactly what the first part is.

There already was a broad array of trashy shark films out there but when Sharknado was released two years ago, it felt special. It was insanely hilarious, absurd to the (fish)bone and terrible to look at. But, like it's most often the case with terrible things, it's hard to take your eyes off of such a train wreck of a movie because it's simply a blast to watch. A year later, Sharknado 2: The Second One – the name alone deserves some credit – did not manage to bring across the spontaneous and unexpected fun of its predecessor, but it came up trumps with a (j)awsome finale on the Empire State Building. Due to the massive popularity of the franchise, director Anthony C. Ferrante and writer Thunder Levin gathered once more in order to knock out a third part. The result, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No, shines with another inspiring tag line, but falls flat when it comes to mindless shark fun.

After having survived and terminated a sharknado in both Los Angeles and New York, surfer Fin (Ian Ziering) is honoured for his heroic deeds by the President of the United States (Mark Cuban). When oh-so-unexpectedly a sharknado hits the White House, Fin and the Commander-in-Chief slaughter their way through the flying carnivores. This, however, is not the end. More sharknados are heading towards the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando where Fin's re-married and pregnant wife April (Tara Reid), their daughter Claudia (Ryan Newman) and his mother-in-law May (Bo Derek) intend to spend a fun afternoon. While Fin tries to make his way to Florida to save his family, he encounters an old friend, Nova (Cassie Scerbo). With the help of Fin's father, retired NASA colonel Gil (David Hasselhoff), the two try to stop the biggest sharknado in history.

First of all, it's good to have them all back. Ian Ziering's Fin has become a kind of trash icon, and rightly so. The former Beverly Hills 90210 heartthrob plays him so wonderfully straight that the ridiculous situations his character is placed in, for example being presented with the New York Order of the Golden Chainsaw, come across as even more hilarious. Tara Reid, once more, demonstrates that acting really isn't what she should be doing – and we can all be glad that she's found an outlet for her non-existing talent in the Sharknado movies. Cassie Scerbo, who also appears in the original instalment, is certain to please fangirls and -boys. Especially since her Nova has transformed into a kick-ass warrior woman ready to take out some sharks at all costs. The way she jumps off caravans in slow-motion, wearing a weird mask and Tomb Raider-like gear sure is a sight to behold.

Cameo-wise Oh Hell No! is certain to impress as well. From German TV host Oliver Kalkhofe, Irish pop act Jedward, former Playboy bunnies Kendra Wilkinson and Holly Madison to singer Ne-Yo, television presenter Jerry Springer and A Song of Ice and Fire author George R. R. Martin – we're all bound to recognise at least one of these peeps.

I am, however, rather disappointed in The Hoff. The name alone is usually enough to make me flash a smile. His performance in Anaconda: Offspring (2008) is something that I still hold very dear. And while he works well with giant snakes, sharks don't seem to bring out the best in Hasselhoff. His portrayal lacked heartfelt exaggeration and honest silliness. If only he had brought all the cheese and camp to the role that he previously showed in his Broadway performance of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the whole thing could've reached a new dimension of bad. As is, he's merely boring, and leaving potential untouched. The fact that the last we see of him is a smirk which he directs towards the camera while roaming the surface of the moon in a spacesuit, surrounded by sharks, is only a minor consolation.

Furthermore, Oh Hell No! looks way too polished for my taste. There's a posh montage featured in the opening credits. Sets include Universal Studios, a NASCAR race and, well, space! Instead of destroying only one city, the sharknados seem to make their way through the entire USA. Everything is stepped up a notch, which cannot achieve the natural trashiness of the predecessors. The third part tries too hard to be cheap while, at the same time, wanting to present conventional action coolness. Having Fin cling to his car door in the midst of a mighty storm might be ridiculous in itself; it is, however, made to look like a scene from a regular Die Hard movie. Where's the fun in that?

The worst thing about Oh Hell No! is its blatant patriotism, though. While The Second One effectively uses its New York setting as a way to comment on the city's toughness in face of a grave crisis, the third part feels like it has been cut out of a Michael Bay production. "God bless America" quotes, the exhausting use of the Star-Spangled Banner and, on top of this, a re-enactment of the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph, this time with a shark impaled upon the rod – I'm not sure if I want my silly, innocent pastime politically charged in such a way and manner.

Yes, there are sharks, there's a tornado, the main characters are back, the cameos are fun – but, heck, we have all this in the previous two movies as well, without the annoying undertones and with a much higher factor of terribly delightful, hilariously abysmal bad. Next time, since, obviously, there's going to be a fourth one, don't try so hard, Sharknado! Leave your political agenda at home, fire up The Hoff, and let those badly animated sharks do the rest.


Monday, 27 July 2015

Manic Monday: Jane Austen's Fight Club: Pride and Prejudice and Punching

© Card & Paugh | Source: man-over-board

© Card & Paugh | Source: rebloggy
Jane Austen is known for her prim and chaste heroines. Witty – yes, but nonetheless subdued by the 19th century standards of propriety and female modesty. Not exactly the stuff that strikes a chord with the majority of us 21st-century people. And Austen's girls are finally fed up with that.

Jane Austen’s Fight Club (2010) is a fanmade short film that takes up the idea of Palahniuk’s and Fincher’s Fight Club (1999) and inserts Austen’s female characters into that setting. 

© Card & Paugh | Source: rebloggy
Bored with their monotonous everyday routines, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma and Co., all dressed up in frilly 19th century style dresses, begin to fight each other in secret. Subsequently, they become more confidant and lively and quickly discard society’s expectations of adequate behaviour for women.

Do I need to say more? Just check out the video and enjoy watching Austen’s heroines give vent to all the pent up hostility they had to repress in their respective novels, and beat the crap out of each other.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Trailer Check: Southpaw (2015)

© The Weinstein Company | Source: YouTube screencap

southpaw /ˈsaʊθpɔː/ 
  A left-handed boxer who leads with the right hand

I'm a sucker for sports movies, especially those about boxing. Raging Bull, Rocky, Warrior, The Fighter - you name it, I've watched it. So, naturally, I'm beyond excited for the release of Antoine Fuqua's latest feature in two days time. And if I choose to go by the most recent trailer alone, Southpaw is certainly bound to impress.

There seems to be a familiar formula at hand here. Like every self-respecting boxing movie, Southpaw needs a washed-up boxer at its centre who, against all odds, has to use the power of his mind and fists to regain his dignity. In this case, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses control over his life and sporting career after the tragic death of his beloved wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams). In order to get back on track and, most importantly, win back the custody for his young daughter Leila (Oona Laurence), he teams up with boxing coach Tick (Forest Whitaker), the obligatory good soul of the story, and promoter Jordan Mains (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson).Yes, when it comes to plot, Southpaw fulfils all the requirements necessary to satisfy fans of the genre. 

The look conveyed in the trailer further recommends the film as a rather down-to-earth summer movie far from all the superhero and dinosaur fare going on this year. Instead of with CGI ecstasy and ambitions of world domination, Southpaw presents us with a quite unusual topic for a blockbuster of the hot season: a raw human interest story. Fittingly, Training Day director Fuqua has created a gritty atmosphere, using a washed-out colour scheme and occasional depictions of violent outbursts. Billy's hardship is present in every second of the trailer. 

The script penned by The Shield producer and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter also adds a certain gangster flair to the story by depicting Maureen as a victim of two rivalling sporting camps, and Billy as a desperate husband out for revenge. This contributes to the general feeling of mayhem and unease palpable in the two-minute preview as well. It only remains to be seen if the film will eventually be able to effectively unite the genres of sports drama, underdog tale and crime thriller, which it evokes in the trailer.

It might still be slightly early to start off award season, but Gyllenhaal certainly looks like he's about to put a foot in the door to the upcoming Oscar race. The trailer suggests a physical and emotional tour de force by the 34-year-old actor. I personally cannot wait to see his character travel from self-loathing to self-esteem. And with the likes of Whitaker and McAdams as support, the rest of the cast isn't meant to disappoint either.

Despite a rather gloomy preface, the trailer ensures that there'll also be a goosebump-inducing, spirit-raising finale at the end - as there should be. With the song "Kings Never Die" by Eminem and Gwen Stefani playing in the background, there's no doubt that, eventually, Southpaw is all about the underdog making it out of a personal crisis. Like most of its successful boxing predecessors, it seems to make use of the feel-good factor, allowing audiences to leave the cinema in an uplifting, nothing's-impossible kind of spirit.

Southpaw's uppercut may come unexpectedly, but it definitely has all the potential to throw a wicked punch towards critical praise and box office glory. Let's get ready to rumble!

Release: 24 July 2015
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Monday, 20 July 2015

Manic Monday: World Jump Day

Source: Tumblr

It's Manic Monday again, and I guess most of us feel like good ol' Buster Keaton up there. The first day after the weekend usually provokes in most of us the desire to jump off the next building in order to make the Monday Blues stop. As it happens, it's also World Jump Day today, so, to be honest, we've actually got  enough motive to pursue our break-neck endeavour. 

Initially meant to raise awareness for global warming, this special holiday is definitely not designed for risqué stunts or suicidal tendencies, though. This is why, in order to keep you safe and sound, I've decided to celebrate the occasion by compiling a list of noteworthy jumps in cinematic history. Therefore, stay off the roofs, BSPeeps, prop up your feet and get through this dreadful day by watching beloved movie characters take the leap for you.

Sherlock Jr. (1924) 
Source: YouTube
Keaton is even willing to take the jump for you twice. In this classic from the silent film era, the master of stunts leaps head-first through a human body to escape from two threatening pursuers. It's probably the most surreal and fun jump of today's list. 

Peter Pan (1953)  
© Walt Disney | Source: Tumblr
Don't shed a tear, Wendy! Although Captain Hook sends you over the plank, there's no need to fret. We all know that what is meant to be a sure death amongst the crocodiles will eventually be prevented by the flying Neverland inhabitant Peter, who hides next to the ship to catch poor Wendy just in time.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
© Warner Bros. | Source: DVD Beaver
This film turned actor James Dean into the embodiment of teenage rebellion and sheer coolness. He's so cool that in the chickie run scene, he manages to jump out of his car right before it goes off a steep cliff, while his opponent Buzz races straight into his demise. Timing is everything when taking a leap.

Mary Poppins (1964)

After all the tragic jumping, it's time for another lovely leap. Mary Poppins, a.k.a. the best nanny ever, shows us what a bit of faith and imagination can do to a bog-standard jump onto a pavement drawing. This has always been my favourite part of the film.

Rocky III (1982)
© 20th Century Fox | Source: YouTube
Bromance is essential in the third part of the popular sports movie franchise revolving around boxer Rocky Balboa. There's really nothing like showing off some ridiculuous moves - formation-dance-style - together with your BFF. When it comes to this list, this is one of the few instances in which I dare say: Do try this at home!

Dirty Dancing (1987)
© Vestron Pictures | Source: Buzzfeed
I know, I know, this is probably the most obvious choice. But as a Dirty Dancing devotee with a mild crush on Patrick Swayze I just can't help but put this fine example of jump-and-lift action onto the list. Just look at the people in the audience. Eveybody's perfectly delighted. And don't tell me you haven't tried this out yourselves in a swimming pool nearby at least once. Been there, done that.

Titanic (1997)
© 20th Century Fox | Source: Amid Night Suns
"You jump, I jump. Remember?" - How could we possibly not remember this, Jack? I guess all of us 90s children vividly recollect the first meeting between first-class passenger Rose DeWitt Bukater and third-class traveller Jack Dawson, and their tragic fate on the ship of dreams, the Titanic. Granted that Rose does not actually jump off the ship in the end, it's the thought that counts.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) 
© Universal Pictures | Source: YouTube
This jump is on the list because, well, it's friggin' amazing! Just look at how the camera follows the stuntman over the balcony and through the smashing window. Action cinema per-fec-tion!

Tangled (2010)
© Walt Disney | Source: YouTube screenshot
Speaking of action cinema: Disney's Tangled, while mostly being a romantic coming-of-age story, definitely has its kick-ass adventure moments. Here, Rapunzle jumps off a rock formation to escape from some pursuers, using her hair to gallantly swing back to the ground. The whole thing results in a dam break and is definitely worth a watch. Enjoy some tough lady action, BSPeeps.

Inception (2010) 
© Warner Bros. | Source: Click's Clan
Back to more tragic grounds: This beautifully staged scene from Christopher Nolan's dream walker adventure has main character Cobb witness the suicide of his wife Mal. "I'm asking you to take a leap of faith," is what she says to him shortly before she plunges off the building. Definitely don't do this at home!  

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
© Village Roadshow Pictures | Source:
There are countless impressive stunts in George Miller's newest Mad Max installment. However, this well-choreographed slow-mo jump definitely fits the occasion best. But, mind you, this is not only jumping for jumping's sake. The scene also functions as an effective depiction of fanatism. Don't we just love our jumps subtle and meanigful?

Thanks for taking the leap with us today, BSPeeps. Feel free to let us know about your favourite movie jumps in the comment section below.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Characters We ♥ : Kate Beckett (Castle)

© ABC | Source:
I love TV shows and the stories they tell! Whether I want to watch some light entertainment or indulge in some deep, dark storylines, TV is my go-to-medium. What I love most about it is the space characters are given to develop and blossom. While I occasionally enjoy a person just for eye candy’s sake, most of the time it is the complex characters that I can get to know and welcome into my home every week that really get my heart pumping. For me it is especially strong female characters that interest me and give me someone to look up to (in the broadest sense). It is not that I watch a show for the sole purpose of witnessing female strength, but more often than not it is a female character that I can respect and maybe even identify with that keeps me coming back. One character this rings especially true for is Castle’s Kate Beckett. 

[After they make the arrest]
Beckett: Well, guess this is it.
Castle: Oh it doesn’t have to be. We could uh… go to dinner, debrief each other.
Beckett: Why, Castle? So I can be another one of your conquests?
Castle: Or I could be one of yours.
Beckett: [extending her hand] It was nice to meet you, Castle.
Castle: [shaking it] It’s too bad. It would have been great.
Beckett: [stepping closer and leaning toward his ear] You have no idea.
- 1x01

©ABC | Source:
Described as a “tough but savvy female detective” in the show’s very first episode, we immediately know that this lady is one to be taken seriously. As the youngest homicide detective in NYPD history she leads the team with the highest case closing rate. We are introduced to Katherine Houghton Beckett as a “no-nonsense”, goal-oriented, focused-on-work person whose routine is rattled when she meets womanizing mystery author Richard Castle. This man-child that seemingly cannot take anything seriously is fascinated by the woman that can stand her ground and does not faint at his first wink. He comes to see her as his new muse (“Call me muse again and I will break both your legs!” 1x04) and tricks his way into shadowing her at work. But even within that very first episode we already get to see that there is more to Kate Beckett than her work persona. She can banter with the best of them, has a lot of empathy for the murder victims, and is good at communicating with people. Her by now (at least within the fandom) famous last words in the pilot episode (“You have no idea…”) are a case and point to how much more there is to Kate Beckett than initially meets the eye.

©ABC | Source:
Refreshingly enough, there is more to Beckett’s tough appearance than just trying to seem as steeled and non-feminine as possible to be able to have a successful career in what still is regarded as a male domain. This differs from the way many other shows handle their successful female characters. The character’s driving force (and the driving force of the series for the first 6 seasons) is the still unsolved murder of her mother when Kate was 19. This single event has given her grief and emotional insecurities, as well as drive and determination at the same time. It’s a hard job she has been working in and her personal motivation has lead to a single-mindedness that is hard to divert from. As a person of virtue and convictions due to her personal tragedy, Kate Beckett believes in justice and doing what is right, not what is easy, and lives by those virtues at home and at the office. That she can successfully solve the murder of her mother Johanna attests to her determination but also gives credit to the way in which she solves it.

I don’t cross the line. I put myself on it. – Kate Beckett 6x23

The journey of how she concludes this most personal case is no small feat either and involves a lot of character development. Fiercely independent, Kate Beckett learns that it is okay to accept help from others and that it is no sign of weakness. Even making friends and finding happiness in her life is no longer a reason to feel guilty in face of her mother’s tragic fate. She realizes that there are other people around her who have the same sense of loyalty and of what is right in the world. Beckett even learns to open up enough to find a partner for life in the unlikeliest of people. But with Rick Castle she can enter a relationship without giving up who she is. She can even be better. Kate does not experience any emptiness or loss of purpose after she avenges her mother because she is full of life and new ambition

Castle: Most people come up against a wall, they give up. Not you. You don’t let go. You don’t back down. That makes you extraordinary. Rick Castle 1x10

© ABC | Source:
Kate Beckett’s development over now seven years can easily be traced by her demeanor and appearance. While I believe the writers intended for Beckett to be a female force from the beginning, they did not have enough courage to embrace it completely. Her short hair, unisex attire, and confidence in professional situations, while being at times awkward in personal interactions, illustrate this fact. It was actress Stana Katic, who portrays Beckett, who urged the writers to see that a woman can be respected and successful, while still being feminine. Luckily this was taken to heart and in combination with plot developments involving opening up to Castle and her co-workers Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie Parish, we see a self-confident, sometimes even light-hearted Kate Beckett. Her looks also change from tomboyish to long-haired model-like professional. Katic’s portrayal of Beckett strongly enhances and compliments the character’s development. Her skills allow Beckett to appear realistic and confident in any range of situations and emotions from romantic and funny, to dark and dramatic. After 7 seasons Stana Katic knows who Kate Beckett is and there is no hesitation or awkwardness in her portrayal.

As the female lead character in ABC’s Castle, Kate Beckett holds as much of the attention as the show’s namesake Rick Castle. She embodies a lot of qualities that make a character interesting to me. Complex and multifaceted, Beckett is a person to admire and like at the same time. Throughout 7 seasons so far, she has grown a lot. On a personal level Beckett went from barely trusting anyone to having a husband, family, and close circle of friends. In her professional life Kate managed to uncover a large conspiracy that led to the murder of her mother and develop the ambition to make something of herself besides avenging her mother. With season 8 almost around the corner, I look forward to a bright future, both professionally as well as personally, for one of the characters I love, Kate Beckett.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

TV Show Review: American Horror Story: Coven (2013)

© FX |  Source: huffingtonpost

United States; 13 Episodes (Season 3); Horror, Drama, Thriller, Teendrama
Channel: FX
Creator: Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Cast: Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy, Taissa Farmiga, Jessica Lange, Denis O'Hare, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Emma Roberts

Fiona: You know why I got a female attack dog?                                                         Hank: Because bitches stick together?

It’s been a while since my last American Horror Story review, so it’s about high time to change that. Season 3 goes by the name of Coven and it reunites us with some of our favourite actors from previous seasons. It’s always thrilling to watch the title sequence of each pilot episode and look out for familiar names. And Coven doesn’t disappoint. The cast includes Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe and, of course, American Horror Story’s poster girl Jessica Lange. That alone should make every fan’s heart leap for joy. But apart from sporting great actors, can Coven also keep up with its predecessors in terms of plot? 

The pilot episode with the brilliant name “Bitchcraft,” (which kind of captures the tone of the entire season) starts with young Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) trying to lose her virginity. Unbeknownst to her, she has a genetic affliction, dating back to her families’ Salem ancestors, which she knows nothing of either, that turns her into a kind of black widow with a killer vagina. Her partner dies of a brain aneurysm and Zoe is whisked off to a special school for people with a more or less similar condition.

© FX |  Source: nerdist
And with that welcome to the AHS-version of Hogwarts, Ladies and Gentlemen. Granted, Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies is not quite as magical as Rowling’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but it nevertheless creates an atmosphere that is more fitting for a teen drama than a horror show. Governed by Headmistress Cordelia Fox (Sarah Paulson), the private school has only three other pupils aside from newbie Zoe: Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts), a teen movie star, full of airs and graces and telekinetic powers; then Nan (Jamie Brewer), a girl with Down-Syndrome and the gift of clairvoyance; and finally there is Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), an Afro-American girl, whose body works like a human voodoo doll. 

Needless to say that with so many different (female) characters confined in one space we get to see witch- and bitchcraft in equal degrees – even more of both once Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) makes her appearance. The mother of headmistress Cordelia is the Supreme, meaning the most powerful witch of all and head of the coven. And with so much power, of course there is nothing she fears more than losing it. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens, now that her so far unknown successor arises and begins to drain the life force from her. To prevent all this, Fiona is not only determined to get her rival out of the way, before she loses her remaining strength, but she desperately and in vain struggles for immortality and eternal youth. Ironically enough, however, many of the lesser witches and even some muggles around her attain it without even trying, which doesn’t exactly throw a favourable light on the prowess of the grand Supreme.

Apart from the conflicts within the coven, a feud with the Voodoo tribe led by Marie Laveau (Angela Basset) and a rather unpleasant dispute with a secret circle of witch hunters add some more spice, gore and horror to the series. Still every scene of horror is interlaced with comic relief of various kinds. This serves to keep the tone lighter than it was in the previous seasons, which is entertaining enough, but hardly fitting for the genre.

As you can tell from my previous reviews, I really, really love Murder House, and I also very much like the Asylum arc and, surprise, I also like Coven, though in a much lesser way than the previous two seasons. Murder House was scary, it had an intriguing plot and characters to fall in love with. Asylum flaunted the scary, gloomy bits and added a lot of suspense and gore and WTF-moments, and Coven… 

Well, Coven did have its good points, but those weren’t really connected to scariness, as you would expect from a TV show that carries its genre right in its title. The focus this season was rather a gory kind of comicality. Coven is filled with grotesquely hilarious moments. Take for example the scene in which the disembodied head of the immortal racist and former slave owner Madame LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) starts crying while watching Roots. Or another one of my favourite scenes that blew ridiculousness way out of proportion was when the tongueless butler Spalding (Denis O’Hare) shows off his doll collection and flashes his fancy nightgown with a cute matching cap.

© FX |  Source: rebloggy
© FX |  Source: rebloggy
Coven is without a doubt more straightforward and less twisted than its predecessors, Asylum in particular which is a paramount example of a show with too many aspirations to fit into the limited screen time. On a whole, Season 3 seems to distance itself greatly from Asylum, as though the producers meant it to be its polar opposite, so the fans that have been scared off by the gloom and harshness of the second season could be brought in again with this much more cheerful and light-hearted type of horror story. However, by doing so the show moves away from its former working principles and moves closer to something like Glee. Just a little more bloody.

Coven really didn’t live up to my expectations: It was entertaining, often absurd, gross and hilarious, so not bad exactly, but it didn’t have the potential to keep you on a hook and make you want to watch the whole season in a single sitting. It seems that my love affair with the first season keeps me loyal to everything yet to come, though I really do hope that Freak Show will return to the aspects that made Murder House so intriguing: the mixture of horror, a strong plot and especially strong, authentic characters.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Manic Monday: Embrace your Geekness Day

©Albert L. Ortega | Getty Images | Source:
Hey BSPeeps,

here we are again. It's Manic Monday and as it happens it's also "Embrace your Geekness" day. And what a fitting day for it to be "Embrace your Geekness" day the Monday after San Diego Comic Con. 

Whether you are still recovering from your #SDCC experience or just need a little pick-me-up at the start of the week, let's take a look back at a few exciting things that happened in San Diego this weekend:

First off, how about that Star Wars panel, eh?

And what about the new Batman v Superman trailer? Gives us a whole new perspective on the movie compared to the first trailer we got  don't you think?

Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful 8 is looking sharp and mysterious in this new film poster:

©the Weinstein Company | Source:

Fans got to see a new Mockingjay Part 2 trailer at one of the biggest SDCC panels:

Lovers of British quality TV got treated and teased to news on Sherlock and Dr. Who:

Those preparing for the zombie apocalypse got what they paid for with a season 6 trailer for The Walking Dead. 

Of course any proper Comic Con recap that's worth anything has to have an honorable mention for geek gods Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion's new project Con Man. So here it is:

Phew, that was a lot! And that's not even scratching the tip of the iceberg of what was going on this weekend. What were your SDCC highlights? Let us know in the comment section below or on our social media.

Have a good start of the week, folks :)

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Data Base: The Walking Dead (2010 --)

© AMC | Source: billboard

Series Premiere October 31, 2010
Series Finale ---
Genre Serial drama, horror, survival
Country of Origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 67
Running Time 42-45 minutes
Channel AMC
Developed by Fran Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman
Starring Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Lauren Cohan, Chad L. Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, Jeffrey DeMunn, Danai Gurira, Laurie Holden, Emily Kinney,  Andrew Lincoln, Melissa McBride, David Morissey, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs,  Michael Rooker, Scott Wilson, Steven Yeun
Guest Stars Worth Mentioning


Based on the eponymous comic book series by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead deals with the fate of a group of survivors in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. They search for someplace safe, but the masses of “biters” and “walkers” make that a nearly impossible endeavour.

Yay or nay?

The Walking Dead is the ideal show for fans of World War Z or the Resident Evil movies and video games. But even if you haven’t (yet) succumbed to the current zombie hype, the show provides you with lots of drama, love triangles and of course many an action scene that’ll make your heart beat faster. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Trailer Check: Minions (2015)

© Illumination | Source:
When Illumination Pictures released Despicable Me as their first animated movie in 2010, no one really expected its great success. Out of seemingly nowhere a cute and witty super villain story captured the hearts of viewers of all ages. But it was really the undefinable, yellow, midgetty helpers of villain Gru that rose to instant stardom. In Despicable Me 2 (2013) their clumsy and fun nature got even more room to shine and now, 2 years later, Bob, Kevin, Stuart, and their friends get their own feature film. In Minions, a sort of origin story, we get to see the story of how our favorite yellow friends came to work for Gru. Before its July 10 release, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us:

The trailer comes along in the style of a proper, factual BBC documentary. For it to be proper we need:

•    A narrator with a British accent (Geoffrey Rush)
•    Impressive landscapes
•    Prehistoric/ historic events to be explained (finally someone retells all of Earth’s history from  
       the long-disregarded Minion perspective!)
•    A realistic way of reenacting these historic events (thank God we live in an animated world!)

This short teaser of the Minion ‘docu-fiction’ introduces us to their very old tribe and provides episodic glances of their involvement with the mightiest T-Rey of them all, in the building of the pyramids, the Napoleonic Wars, and the demise of Dracula.

We also finally learn the motivation behind it all: What is the Minions purpose in life? – Nothing short of serving “the most despicable master around”. How these fun-loving creatures can be drawn to something so evil remains a mystery to me. Yet again, it might have to do with their love for gloating at others mishaps as we have previously seen in the Despicable Me movies. The German ‘Schadenfreude’ once again proves to be the best descriptive in this situation.

The source of comedy in Minions (next to their cuteness of being) is once again the almost tragic clumsiness and physical comedy of the tiny, yellow creatures. Difficult qualities to have, and the trailer already hints at the suffering that came from it. After all, “finding a master [is] easy – keeping a master, that’s where things got tricky”. Many tragic, yet funny turns see the Minions bring about their masters’ demise.

Still, probably realizing that the short historic episodes can’t carry the movie, the plot also aims at some depth. After losing all their masters the Minions fall into a depressive spell, here reflected by their cold, arctic home and the long, listless faces. But then along came… Kevin! Together with Stuart (catch phrase: “Banana”) and scared, little Bob he sets off for the heroic expedition of finding their ultimate master. Both the quest and coming-off-age motifs are prominent parts of the story. The three heroes discover a whole new world in 1968, when they arrive in NYC. The charming time frame of 42 B.C. (before Gru) tells us there are many adventures to be had until the Minions finally end their Odyssey.

The sounds of “Under Pressure” and the voice of Pierre Coffin as the Minions underlay the trailer. Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Carell, and Steve Coogan voice-act in the movie.

Minions looks like it will be a fun summer movie for the whole family to enjoy. Not too many demands of depth can be made for a light-hearted, animated feature film, but I am still not 100 % sure the movie can live up to the hype. It remains to be seen whether the movie can go the distance with its episodic storytelling and protagonists that only speak mumble-jumble can only cover so much plot. Of course the character list sees the top-billed actors voicing humans, so there is some potential of plot extension, but the trailer only feeds off the cute and funny yellow creatures. 

Still, let’s just lean back, sign up for a fun ride, and eat some “BANANA”!

Release: 10 July 2015
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Monday, 6 July 2015

Manic Monday: Raptor Princesses

© Laura Cooper | xpwebcomic

As you may have noticed these past weeks, the three of us are great fans of Jurassic World. But the movie has been released almost a month ago and even the best things have to end one day and I guess that day has finally come. It’s time to move on to new movie crushes (and I’m really just talking about the movies here) or movies that leave us indifferent of their existence or those that’ll make us wholeheartedly hate them (for an example of such wholehearted hatred read Rina’s review of the Fargo TV show – you’ll get what I mean.)

So, to provide some sense of closure, this Manic Monday post is our final tribute to Jurassic World and the stars of the movie. And no, I am not talking about the charming raptor trainer Chris Pratt, the neurotic workaholic of a park manager Claire, definitely not the annoying little and semi-little Mitchell brothers, and I am not referring to the original Jurassic Park’s biggest fanboy Lowery either. Although perhaps a little… The real stars of the film can be no other than the none-human actors – drum roll – the dinosaurs! And I mean the real dinosaurs. Sorry Indominus Rex.

The raptors were by far the best part of the movie and managed to successfully distract from the not particularly well-written characters and the a-little-too-simple storyline. And I think a lot of movies would greatly benefit from incorporating dinosaurs into their cast. To give you an idea of just how great that would be, take a look at these cheeky Velociraptors, slipping into the roles of their favourite Disney princesses. Enjoy!

© Laura Cooper | io9

Sunday, 5 July 2015

TV Show Review: Fargo Season 1 (2014) [Spoilers]

© FX | Source: CurrentDigitalMag

USA; 10 episodes; crime, drama
Channel: FX
Creator: Noah Hawley
Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Adam Goldberg, Russell Harvard, Oliver Platt, Glenn Howerton, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Joey King, Keith Carradine, Kate Walsh, Rachel Blanchard, Joshua Close, Julie Ann Emery, Susan Park, Kelly Holden Bashar 
“Did you know the human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour? When you figure out the answer to my question, then you’ll have the answer to yours.”  – Lorne Malvo

Emmys, Golden Globes, critical acclaim and universal praise – Fargo's got it all. The first season of the FX series seems to have convinced everybody and their grandmother. Something underneath the frosty, greyish, snow-laden Minnesotan setting has warmed the hearts of many viewers. The sketchy, philosophical dialogues and riddles seem to have everybody in a guessing mood and Billy Bob Thornton's portrayal of a devilish hired gun the world in awe. As a consequence, I was basically ready to be stunned by Fargo – blown away, thoroughly entertained, left with an exhilarant feeling like I'd just won the Salesman of the Year award. All I felt, however, was relief. Relief that, after ten episodes of Fargo, I could finally move on and dedicate my time to something worthwhile. Binge-watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl, for example. And, yes, I really just said that.

But back to Fargo. The pilot with the sounding name "The Crocodile's Dilemma" starts off quite nicely. As the title suggests, the show already sticks deep in philosophical subtext, just to show that it knows its paradoxes, I guess. But, well, whatever. Here's what's going on: Lester Nygaard (Michael Freeman) is a mousy and unsuccessful insurance salesman with a bossy and constantly complaining wife (Kelly Holden Bashar). After being bullied and punched in the nose by an old acquaintance, Lester meets a crocodile, uh, man named Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) at the hospital who offers to kill the bully. Since Lester does neither accept nor deny the offer, Malvo, who happens to be a professional killer, goes on to murder Lester's tantaliser. After the first shock wears off, Lester, in a heated argument with his wife, feels powerful for the very first time and kills her by hitting her on the head with a hammer. This brings in Chief Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle) and Police Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), and forces Lester to go to considerable length to hide his own crime as well as his connection with Malvo.

© FX | Source: Fargo Wikia

If all this sounds kind of familiar, it's because it is. Fargo is loosely based on the 1996 film of the same title by Joel and Ethan Coen; a 98-minutes feature I hold very dear for its quirkiness and absurdities, its atmospheric setting, exaggerated characters and kick-ass female heroine. Since the TV version features the Coen brothers as producers, I really hoped that the Coen spirit would automatically flow into the project as well.

And, as I said, the very first episode is nice. It manages to capture the hazy, melancholic aesthetics of the source material, with a wintery landscape that is certain to make Jon Snow feel comfortably at home. With Bemidji, Minnesota as a main setting, it also conveys an element of small town flair, similar to the Brainerd-set movie. Additionally, it tries to give some new spins to the original. For example, Lester, reminiscent of William H. Macy's good-for-nothing car salesman Jerry Lundegaard, is endowed with more criminal and deceitful potential than his movie counterpart. I also enjoy how Molly Solverson, the equivalent to Frances McDormand's bad-ass Marge Gunderson, only becomes the main police officer pursuing the Lester case after an unexpected twist of events brings about the death of Chief Thurman. The pilot cleverly plays with the expectations of those who know the film, and this is all fair and well. Nothing groundbreaking or utterly spectacular, but a sweet set-up after all.

And then it all goes downhill from there. While the series is capable of maintaining the arresting optics, it severely lacks in tone. It's way too tame to truly embrace the satirical or absurd greatness of the film, yet it's also too weird to work as a traditional crime story. Scenes like Malvo being offered to buy a pink police scanner are occasionally thrown into the usual murder mayhem. Like show creator Noah Hawley wants to assure his viewership that, yes, we're definitely dealing with a black comedy here. Some might like to scream in my face: "But why does everything have to be labelled appropriately? Can't we appreciate the multidimensional aspects of the show?" No, we cannot. I cannot. Fargo, the series, seems too scared to take its humour all the way, to fully allow for absurdity, to really be wickedly funny amidst all the serious bloodshed. Rather than complex, it feels directionless, tumbling somewhere between quirk and graveness. Just like Lester, it wants to be special, badly, but ultimately fails to withstand its time in the spotlight.

© FX | Source: Optigrab

I also hate how you can literally watch the show run out of steam. A case that Marge Gunderson most definitely would have solved in a 90-minute time span, drags on over ten episodes. And the creators must have known that their story just isn't rich enough to justify ten episodes. Why else plant that five-episode-long side plot surrounding supermarket tycoon Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) into the series, when the whole things has absolutely no connection to the main plot? I mean, five episodes of seeing Milos slowly being driven into madness by Malvo – because the latter felt like it. Some call it character drawing, I call it sloppy character drawing. Seriously, if you need FIVE episodes to merely establish the mean spirit and mischievousness of one of your main characters, you should reconsider your plot outline. And then, to try and appease fans of the film with the fact that the money-filled satchel found by Milos in the episode "Eating the Blame" is the same as the one buried by Steve Buscemi's character in the movie... Come on. One tiny reference can't make up for the irrelevance of a five-episode-lasting side plot. And to waste Oliver Platt on such a storyline. Shame on you, TV Fargo.

But, no, it's not enough to fill time by establishing plots of no importance. In order to stall the investigation on the Lester case further, Hawley and his writing team rely on a bunch of beyond stupid characters. And I mean I-want-to-smash-my-head-on-a-desk-stupid; or should I say, Bob Odenkirk, anyone? In Fargo, the Better Call Saul star takes over the role of police chief after Thurman's death. Since he went to school with Lester, he absolutely cannot imagine that the inconspicuous guy should have anything to do with the murder of his wife. Even though Solverson presents him with more and more evidence demonstrating contradictions in Lester's testimony and, on top of this, his connection with Malvo, the police chief will hear no word of it. Sure. So he keeps on sabotaging Solverson's inquests until my eyes have spun out of their sockets due to all the rolling. Yet again, all this is not enough. Furthermore, two FBI agents, played by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, chat in their car while Malvo walks into a building they're actually surveilling, shoots 22 people dead and leaves again, disguised in a group of bystanders gathered outside. While the murder spree has a nice Frenzy-Hitchcockian feel to it, the incompetence of the two agents overshadows everything.

© FX | Source: MPR News

Characters are a general problem in Fargo. Lester is utterly unlikable, as he should be, considering the things he does throughout the show. Unfortunately, he also isn't all that interesting. Once he's established himself as a spiteful, selfish little man, his act is predictable. Due to the stupidity apparently predominant in the Minnesotan law enforcement, we know that he won't get caught for a long time. Due to William H. Macey's fate in the movie, we know that his demise will certainly occur in the very last episode – and it does. The only fascinating thing left is Freeman's dedicated performance, the highlight of the series as far as acting goes.

Then there's Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), who serves as Solverson's love interest. I mean, all the people who are aware of the film know we have to get Molly pregnant somehow, don't we? Apart from his relationship with her, Grimly is rather annoying. His desperate effort to be good at his job, the little talks with his teenage daughter Greta (Joey King) – I don't care. For the most part, he really appears like an eventual sperm donor on two legs. With a firearm, unfortunately. In the episode "Buridan's Ass", in a misty pursuit, he mistakenly shoots Molly and has her end up in hospital, further stalling the investigation. Like we don't have enough silly characters boycotting the plot already...

© FX | Source: The Gonzo

Yes, appealing characters are scarce and few in this show. Molly Solverson is probably the one who manages to hold my interest at all. She still might pale in comparison to Marge Gunderson, but her heartfelt, no-bullshit style of going about things strikes a chord. Especially her scenes with her father (Keith Carradine) as well as the ones with Thurman's widow Ida (Julie Ann Emery) are lovely to watch. The fact that, in the finale, Grimly steals her thunder by killing Malvo is a huge disappointment. More shame on you, TV Fargo

Most people agree that Thornton's portrayal of Malvo is the masterpiece of the production. And, again, I don't see the appeal. I think Thornton is a wonderful actor in general and perfectly Coen-savvy, as his stint on their film The Man Who Wasn't There proves. However, in Fargo he seems like a poor copy of Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh from another Coen film. He's supposed to be enigmatic and intense, threatening and unpredictable, yet deliciously funny at the same time. In other words, he's supposed to be the personified equivalent to the coin flip scene from No Country for Old Men. While Thornton sports a similarly terrible hair style as Bardem, his performance comes across as so subtle that it is almost ineffective. I don't sense danger and wit from him. I only sense words from a script, told with either a playful smirk or serious countenance. Besides, his character is mostly shaped through action, not through turning emotions or intentions inside out. Malvo slits a throat, so we know he's brutal. Malvo disguises as a Lutheran Minister to set the police on a wrong track, so we know he is a trickster. Malvo tries to drive Milos crazy by bringing Biblical plagues upon him, so we know he likes to play mind games. There's not much else to be had, and the act gets old fairly quickly. And then, after ten episodes of congenial criminal activity without ever getting caught, Malvo is wiped from the surface of the Earth in an anti-climactic showdown. Being shot by dimwit officer Grimly – how could one's final farewell be more irrelevant?   

© FX | Source: Huffington Post

Fargo obviously gave me a hard time. I forced myself through it, always hoping that it would improve at some point and become the show everybody claimed it was. But the truth is, I haven't been as bored and frustrated with TV since making my way through the first season of In Treatment. The plot drags, the philosophical allusions come across as clumsy attempts to bring depth to the storyline, almost all the main characters lack appeal and the stupidity of some of the supporting characters is just too much to bear. What remains is the look of the show, which is truly beautiful and captivating – but it's also a tribute to the look of the original Fargo movie. So, why should I force-feed myself ten hours of subpar storytelling, when I can watch the 98-minute source material featuring intriguing characters, sharp wit, hilarity and a compelling story?

Due to its massive popularity with critics and audiences alike, Fargo will return for a second season in September, starring Patrick Wilson (as a younger version of Molly's father), Ted Danson, Jean Smart and Kirsten Dunst. Just like the second season of True Detective, the whole thing seems like a mere attempt to ride the wave of success a little longer. In contrast to True Detective, Fargo has nothing to lose, though. It can only get better.