Saturday, 31 October 2015

Film Review: Hocus Pocus (1993)

© Disney | Source:
USA; 96 min.; comedy, family, fantasy
Director: Kenny Ortega
Writing: David Kirschner, Mick Garris
Cinematography: Hiro Narita
Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw

Bubble, bubble! I'm in trouble! - Bus driver (encountering the Sanderson Sisters)

Hocus Pocus – the evergreen, the classic, the monster of a family-fun movie! How do you even form some sort of verdict?! No idea, but here’s my attempt:

When Disney released this movie in July 1993, it’s doubtful they thought they would create a film that would reflect Halloween’s status as a favorite holiday for the whole family – not just the adult horror freaks or young trick-or-treaters.

Hocus Pocus tells the story of three witches of Salem, the Sanderson Sisters, who are accidentally resurrected 300 years after their execution, on Halloween night 1993. They have just that one night to secure their return to life. Only Max (a Salem and Halloween skeptic) and his little sister Dani, who are new in town, and Binx, the feline nemesis of the witches, can stop them. All right then. The whole occasion of Halloween of course calls for the fantastical and dark, but Hocus Pocus really can’t deliver all that darkness and ridicules it at every other corner.

Indeed, to me, that’s the beauty of the movie and the secret to its success. It wasn’t a box-office hit when it was first released, but annual television reruns helped secure its place in the homes of America and around the world. The charm of Hocus Pocus and the reason it’s a cult classic 22 years on, is that indeed everyone in the family can enjoy it – for all kinds of  different reasons. Young children may indeed be spooked by the graveyard scenes and mean witches, but also charmed by the spell book with a face and the talking cat. Older kids can then discover the more comical features of the film and realize it isn’t as scary as they remembered it. Musical lovers will enjoy the opulent costumes of the witches and the people at the masquerade ball, as well as catchy musical numbers. The proud all-American will rejoice in Disney’s shallow attempt at historical grounding and national mythology by invoking the witch trials of Salem. Parents love the joyfull “ooohs” and “ahhhs” their kids make watching it, while stuffing their faces with candy. And the rest of us simply enjoy the trashy, Sharknado-like ridicule of it all, while reveling in childhood nostalgia.

So, if you aren’t hitting the Halloween party train tonight, gather ‘round the TV with your loved ones and let Bette Midler put a spell on you. Happy Halloween, guys!

Features: Halloween Treat

© Disney | Source: funnyjunk

Happy Halloween BSPeeps!

Today is a very special day, and so we prepared some very special treats exclusively for you – like the picture puzzles you will find below.

The pictures I have chosen are not from any famous or not so famous horror movies, as you might expect. Instead, I had a look at some cartoons I loved as a child, but that are retrospectively a little more creepy and disturbing than any show for children ought to be. Like the dystopian nightmare Darkwing Duck is set in bears a greater resemblance to a duckified Gotham City than bright, innocent Duckburg. Or have you ever heard the theory that the Rugrats babies are all dead and the show is just a figment of Angelica’s deranged imagination? 

There goes my childhood… 

And I guess the monster-hunting Scooby Doo is self-evident. But there’s far more. Almost all of the old Disney-movies, Spongebob Squarepants and what have you, feature a dark side you might have not picked up on as a kid, but thinking back now, there’s quite a lot to unearth. But do we really want that?

Anyhow, now to the more fun part of this so far kind of gloomy sounding post. As I said, I prepared three picture puzzles with creepy scenes from actually not supposed to be creepy cartoons and added a few mistakes. There are each five in the Darkwing Duck and Scooby Doo picture, and, because it’s so much fun, there are ten mistakes in the Rugrats one. 

Have fun searching!

© ABC | Source: cheezey

© Cartoon Network | Source: denofgeek

© Nickelodeon | Source: craveonline

Episode Close-Up: Supernatural (2005 - ): 4x07 It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester

© The CW | Source: The Winchester Family Business
USA; 42 min.; horror, fantasy, drama
Series Creator: Eric Kripke
Director: Charles Beeson
Writing: Eric Kripke, Julie Siege
Cinematography: Matthew J. Lloyd
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Robert Wisdom, Don McManus, Ashley Benson, Kirsten Robek, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Luisa D’Oliveira, David Ingram

"You know, back in the day, this was the one night you kept your children inside. Well, tonight you’ll all see what Halloween really is.” – Witch 

Happy Halloween, BSPeeps! What are your plans on the creepiest of holidays? Going to a costume party? Trick-or-treat-ing through the neighbourhood? Or simply having a movie night watching horror classics of old and new? Whatever you’re up to, make sure that you’ll have a bloody good time and enjoy being scared out of your wits. And take it easy on the candy. Nah, I’m kidding. Eat it all up – no regrets.

In today’s episode close-up, I’d like to have a look at a show that has always leaned on the darker side of things. Ghosts, demons, witches, vampires, werewolves and more otherworldly creatures usually roam the scenery, and a whole bunch of urban legends has been at the centre of this TV series – at least in the first three seasons. The talk is of Supernatural, the show in which the Winchester brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) travel the US countryside in order to fight evil forces and unusual occurrences.

For Halloween, it is only fitting to pick out the show’s very own Halloween-themed episode, called “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester“, from the fourth season. Its original air date was on the 30 October 2008, and now I’m gonna find out whether “The Great Pumpkin” still has the potential to make it onto the definite to-watch list of a more modern Halloween-loving crowd.

Set on the day right before Halloween, the very beginning of the episode is more than promising. In a kitchen of a small town family home, we see two young parents stow away some candy for the upcoming Halloween night. When the mother (Kirsten Robek) takes the couple’s baby up to the bathroom to clean the toddler up, her husband (David Ingram) cannot resist opening the candy box and snitching one piece for an early treat. His delightful chewing is interrupted quickly, though, because he seems to have bitten onto something, well... unusual. The camera perspective changes and we look out of the man’s mouth, seeing that a razor blade is stuck in the upper part of his gums. He succeeds in pulling it out, blood flowing into his mouth. However, there’s not much time for the shock to sink in. The man starts to cough up two more blades, falls to the floor, twitches. When the wife returns from upstairs, she finds the blood on the floor and her husband lying in it – dead. This is exactly what any fan of Halloween and gory horror could hope for. The urban legend of manipulated candy that will bring death to all the unsuspecting holiday celebrators is incorporated into a bloody, disturbing filmic start. It’s gross and crude and perfectly frightening.

© The CW | Source: The Winchester Family Business
A couple of scenes later, a teenage girl (Luisa D’Oliveira) dies while bopping for apples at a costume party. Some supernatural power seems to hold her under water and, on top of this, the water seems to boil up very quickly, burning the girls entire face. Another Halloween-ish nightmare come true.

Of course, all these occurrences alert Sam and Dean, who quickly find out that the deaths are caused by a very old witch who’s trying to raise the demon Samhain with a few neat blood sacrifices. After some researching, Sam informs us that, hundreds of years ago, Halloween wasn’t a festivity of joy and harmless spooking around. People wore masks to scare off Samhain, or tried to appease him with blood or harvest sacrifices. Since on 31 October the line between the living and the dead is said to be the thinnest, Halloween is usually the night in which Samhain would terrorise humanity by raising other demons, ghosts and even zombies. Fortunately, Sam tells us, he was exorcised some time ago. So now the two brothers have to stop the wicked witch from luring him back out of hell.

So far so good. “The Great Pumpkin” succeeds in establishing a nice Halloween setting by presenting us with a small town in midst of its final holiday preparations. The houses are decorated with pumpkins and ghosts. Dressed up kids trick-or-treat through the streets and pre-Halloween parties are in full swing. The gruesome deaths occurring during typical Halloween activities, namely eating candy and apple bopping, create an effective chill within me. It’s something that could really happen to all of us. I also like how the show presents us with the pagan roots of Halloween and gives us a short yet informative look behind the rituals we usually perform on this holiday. Additionally, there’s the usual banter between the brothers with Sam scolding Dean for eating too much candy (how absurd!) or not taking the Halloween-ish dangers seriously. For the first twenty minutes or so, the episode really is good fun.

© The CW | Source: Rebloggy
Then the angels appear. I know, many fans of the show enjoy archangels Uriel (Robert Wisdom) and especially Castiel (Misha Collins) and their talk of apocalyptic damnation. They enjoy seeing the show turn from a family-centred drama with subplots inspired by urban legends to a melodramatic tale of, literally, Biblical proportions. But, to be honest, my interest in the show has decreased significantly since the apocalyptic subplot has emerged. Well, basically, I stopped watching in the middle of season 5.

“The Great Pumpkin” pretty much illustrates my dislike for the angelic takeover. As soon as Castiel and Uriel arrive, the dynamics of the episode become entirely different. What happens to be a fun, creepy, interesting little story in the beginning becomes a tale with much more sinister undertones. Granted that Sam and Dean always have had to fight evil forces and that most often lives have been at stake, things have gone into the direction of ultimate gloom and doom, of world’s end, of a fight between God and Lucifer themselves when the angels were introduced. The quirky charm of the show is sacrificed for a much heavier and more bloated subject matter.

In this episode, the raising of Samhain isn’t just a normal wickedness planned by a mean, old hag. No, the angels seek the Winchesters to tell them that summoning the Halloween demon is part of the 66 seals that prevent Lucifer from rising. So, should Samhain walk the Earth again, Lucifer is one step closer to wrecking humanity. The whole episode is no longer genuinely Halloween-centred, it’s just another puzzle piece in a Biblical face-off. To make things short: I long for the days when Supernatural was more grounded, and not so grave and, well, boringly, pious.

© The CW | Source: Supernatural Wikia
In the end, angels or no angels, Sam and Dean manage to find the witch or, as it turns out, witches that seek to bring back Samhain. The brothers are a little late, though. Samhain rises and starts to bring back the dead with him. In the showdown, taking place in a vault, Dean has to fight ghosts and zombies who begin to climb out of their resting places. This is the moment when the show resorts back to its original, slightly campy fun.

In a different part of the vault, Sam uses his demonic powers to exorcise Samhain, even though the angels have warned Sam to never ever, ever, ever use those powers again. At this point in the show, the younger Winchester brother is pretty much on the brink of breaking bad. We know that the use of his special skills – given to him by a demon when he was just a little baby – makes him ruthless, blood-thirsty, evil. The show is obviously aiming at a conflict between demonic Sam and angel favourite Dean, so destroying Samhain is not just about making Halloween child-friendly again, it’s about – yawn – the apocalypse and stuff.

I admit that I always enjoy the conflicts between the two brothers. So setting Sam and Dean up against each other, apocalyptically or otherwise, is pretty great. The look on Dean’s face in this episode, when he sees Sam using his powers again, is wonderful. It’s a mixture of ‘Oh no, not again! What are you doing?’ and ‘Poor Sammy, you go to such a length to protect us all from the wicked Halloween demon.’ Dean’s realisation that Sam is willing to always sacrifice a bit of his soul in order to save the people around him is indeed a special and heartfelt moment.

© The CW | Source: Music In The Dark
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” starts of nicely. It’s properly Halloween-ish and fun to watch. When the episode tries to root the Halloween plot inside the apocalyptic subplot, things start to fall flat for me. The angels annoy and bore me. Their talk of Heaven and Hell annoys and bores me. Fortunately, the final showdown between Sam and Samhain can make up for some of the angelic snooze-fest. But still, I can’t deny that at this point in the show, Supernatural is slowly but certainly beginning to exorcise my love for it. Excuse me while I spend Halloween weeping in a corner for a bit. Until someone brings me candy. Lots of candy. 


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Out & About: Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre, London (2015)

© Johan Persson / Barbican | Source: Filmkompass
“The rest is silence.” – Hamlet (V, 2)

Silence – certainly the last word I would use to describe the newest high-profile production of Hamlet over at the Barbican Theatre in London. When in 2014 it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch would take on the title role of the Danish prince, the world was abuzz with excitement. A buzz that would, almost one year later, last through ticket sales, previews, opening night, and will probably keep on humming until the final show this Saturday.

Thanks to the British actor, this Hamlet has become the “most in-demand theatre show of all time”. Tickets were sold out within minutes. With over one thousand people in the Barbican online queue before me, I myself was about to give up all hope of ever making it to the front before all the tickets were gone. My gratitude goes out to the Ambassador Theatre Group, which offered tickets on their own website where, surprisingly, waiting time didn’t even add up to one minute.

So, yes, I had my tickets and, in September, made my way to London to witness The Cumberbatch do some Shakespeare. Mind you, there was a span of over one year between buying the tickets and finally taking my seat in the Barbican stalls. In this time, the hype and frenzy around the production more than once had me shaking my head in disbelief. Reviews published before opening night, people who thought they were going to a rock concert instead of a theatre show and, hence, took their mobile phones to do some recording, Cumberbatch stepping out of the stage door to address those people and ask them to please leave their phones in their bags and enjoy the show instead – seriously, WTF?

© WENN | Source: Irish Mirror
Fandom can be a crazy place to get stuck in. Of course, I won’t deny it, I admire Cumberbatch’s work, I love Shakespeare and I’m always happy to see a good play. So, when these three factors came together, I wanted to be part of the experience. However, I like to keep in mind that no matter how famous a person might be, there’s still a human being behind the image trying to do his or her job. I also think that the extensive coverage of Cumberbatch’s involvement with the play is utterly ridiculous. We’re talking Hamlet here. And while the leading part has always received a fair amount of attention, the play still is an ensemble piece and deserves to be recognised as such.

But enough with the grumbling already. The audience I was in was totally inconspicuous. No phones, no teddy bears flying onto the stage, no fainting and stuff. Funnily enough, one of the employees at the Barbican Centre told me the next day that he can claim the Hamlet audience to be the most well-behaved audience they’ve ever had – after all the steps taken by the theatre and staff to re-establish order. So, indeed, well-behaved the audience was, and after a delicious three-course pre-theatre menu at the Barbican’s own Gin Joint, I was perfectly ready to soak in the play.

To be honest, Hamlet isn’t my favourite Shakespeare piece. I can hear most of you scream ‘Blasphemy!’ at me, but, alas, it’s just the way it is. There’s something about whiny Danish princes that just doesn’t appeal to me that much. And if there’s one thing Hamlet does throughout the entirety of the play, it’s whine: about the state his family is in, about the state he’s in, about the state the state is in – you get the picture. Additionally, the play touches on so many different themes and topics which do not manage to come together as a whole, in my opinion. There’s talk of revenge, impuissance, guilt, theatre, the afterlife and the supernatural. There’s a lame political sub-plot and a jammed-in romance just for the sake of having some amorous drama in there. Some may call it complexity; I call it an aimless hotchpotch of actually intriguing ideas. 

© Johan Persson / Barbican | Source: Evening Standard
But then there’s also my conviction that Shakespeare is incapable of failing his readers and theatre audiences completely. After all, there’s the language. This beautifully crafted, melodious language. Metaphorical, allegorical, witty, plain, crude – all at the same time. There are some of the most precious monologues/soliloquies in theatre history to be found within Hamlet and, hundreds of years later, “To be or not to be” and “What a piece of work is a man” still resonate and capture universal questions about the purpose of mankind. Then it’s also impressive to see how human psychology is unfolded. For a play originating from the very beginning of the 17th century, the emphasis on individual thoughts and emotions is astounding and exiting to read.

Having said all this, I’m rather disappointed in Lyndsey Turner’s directorial effort. Considering that there are so many different approaches one can follow with this play, it seems as if she shies away from really taking a stand and endowing her Hamlet with a special focus. The only striking interpretive quality comes from the outstanding set design as well as the costume and props department. There is this certain air of nostalgia, of how living in the good ol’ days, when daddy Hamlet was still very much alive and king, was much better than living in the now. Hamlet listens to old records; Ophelia, played in an annoyingly fragile and weepy manner by Siân Brooke, has a passion for analog photography; the great, royal hall furnished with old portraits and antiquities falls to dust after the interval. The costume design takes its influence from many different epochs, hinting at the timeless quality of Shakespeare’s oeuvre. 

© Johan Persson / Barbican | Source: Vickster51Corner
But instead of further following this train of thought, Turner takes the hotchpotch and pours it onto the carefully constructed stage. Unfortunately, trusting that the plot will carry itself and the actors and actresses will do a good job is not enough to bring out the best in Hamlet. I’m of the persuasion that it needs a firm hand and clear direction to gain a resonating effect as a whole.

Luckily, Turner knows how to create powerful images, mildly compensating for the lack of depth. Her staging of the ghost scenes, in particular, harbour the nature of a classic horror story, with voices echoing through the halls and objects moving unexpectedly. It’s creepy fun, as if you’re sitting through a polished episode of Tales From the Crypt.

Another reason why this Hamlet manages to entertain despite its deficiencies is Turner’s willingness to embrace the humorous quality of the source text. This especially allows actor Jim Norton to shine in the part of Polonius. His dialogues with Hamlet are sure to evoke laughter and brighten the otherwise darker aspects of the play without bringing too much silliness into the game. On the other hand, Hamlet’s fits of craziness, which manifest themselves in some odd-nonsensical moments, might serve quick comic relief but do nothing for the play, really. When he dresses up as a toy soldier and patrols around in a mini-castle rolled onto stage, I admittedly cracked a smile, but was put off by the general absurdity of it all. Same goes for the slow-motion techniques and weird dance-like choreographies that are thrown in occasionally.

It is Shakespeare’s writing and the ensemble that hold this rather unspectacular production together. My personal highlights include Hamlet’s confrontation with his mother Gertrude, played with ardour by Anastasia Hille, and Claudius’ (Ciarán Hinds) confession to the murder of his brother. Hinds conveys feelings of guilt and self-righteousness very quietly and yet desperately. His calm, vicious performance unsettled me and somehow stayed with me long after the play had ended.

© Johan Persson / Barbican | Source: Filmkompass
Cumberbatch is convincing in the title role. He whines and suffers and whines and embraces all the silliness and whines again. It is obvious that he is in it most passionately and succeeds in rendering Hamlet’s inner struggles and moral dilemmas visible. In the end, it is not his fault that the different tones of oddball comedy and honest depression and heartbreak don’t come together.

After all the hype and hysteria around this production of Hamlet, the actual experience felt like a letdown to me. Granted that I’m not the biggest fan of the play in general, I still hoped that a focused staging would help to turn the whole thing into a rounder tale. Turner, however, pretty much left the potential untouched, adding some hit-and-miss comedy and some fun spookiness into the mix. Thanks to an expressive stage design, a dedicated cast and brilliant Shakespearean language the Barbican was able to offer an entertaining evening. Entertaining yet, on the long run, forgettable. At least the fans behaved.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Manic Monday & Top 3: Howl at the Moon Day

© zanardo | Source: DeviantArt
It's Monday, but not just some ordinary Manic Monday. Today's special holiday allows you to channel all your penned up frustration and release it all at once. You're missing the relaxation of the weekend? Your boss is driving you crazy at work? University's throwing a whole load of tasks at you? No problem. Just wait until dark 'til the moon shines brightly above your head and... howl all your troubles at it.

It's Howl at the Moon Day, BSPeeps. We take this as an occasion to a) get rid of our own toils and troubles come midnight, and b) serve you with a Top 3 of our favouriute wolves in film and TV history. Enjoy.


3. Winnie from Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) 
© Sony Pictures | Source: Hotel Transylvania Wikia
Little werewolf girl Winnie has about a trillion scuffling brothers. Naturally, she has to be tough and determined in order to assert herself amongst her siblings. Although cute Winnie might not look the part, she can scramble like the best of them, is a loyal friend, a talented tracker and her parents' pride and joy.

2. Lucian from Underworld (2003) and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)
© Sony Pictures | Source: Tumblr
Lucian (played fiercely by the impeccable Michael Sheen) is one of those wild, scruffy, tousled werewolves with a big, broken heart. It's all in the ambivalence. While, at first, we're led to believe that he's a mean-spirited fellow intending to harm vampires for the fun of it, we soon find out that all his rage and grimnes actually stem back from the days in which the vampires enslaved his whole race and, on top of that, killed the love of his life. Awww. Poor Lucian definitely has my sympathy.

1. Jackson Whittemore from Teen Wolf (2011 -  )
© MTV | Source: Teen Wolf Wikia
High school jock Jackson (Colton Haynes) wants to be a werewolf - badly. And he has to go through a lot to finally reach his goal: wolfsbane poisoning, emotional insecurity, the transformation into a slimey killing machine without control of his mind... Oh, what a glorious moment it is when Jackson finally turns into a fully fanged, blue-eyed werewolf! While it is sometimes hard to root for him, I've always liked him best on the show. The soft core underneath the hard shell make for some great drama and character moments.

Nata Lie:

3. Ruby/Red from Once Upon a Time... (2011 - )
© ABC | Source: outafan
Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, who sets out to visit her ill grandmother and then they are both eaten up by the Big Bad Wolf. Not so this Red Riding Hood. Ruby gives a new spin to the old fairy tale - being the helpless little girl and the hungry wolf in one person. And the best thing about that is that she doesn’t even know and her Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of character is definitely interesting to watch.

2. Michael Corvin from Underworld (2003)
© Sony Pictures | Source: comicvine
Michael Corvin is the first ever lycan-vampire hybrid and far more powerful than either of these species. He falls in love with the vampire Selene and sides with her in her fight against the real werewolves. Did I mention that apart from superior strenght, he shares none of their weaknesses?

1. Professor Remus John Lupin from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
© Warner Bros. Pictures | Source: harrypotter.wikia
When you think of a typical werewolf, what comes to mind are shady, bad-spirited guys who easily lose their temper. And then there’s Lupin. Granted, he does get kind of grumpy and blood-thirsty after having stared at the full moon a little too long to maintain his human form, but the rest of the time, he is everything our “typical werewolf” is not. He is kind, always concerned about others and a good friend, not only to his peers James and Sirius, but also to Harry and Co. He is an indispensable part of the Order of the Phoenix and uses his werewolf-powers to fight the evil forces, tormenting Rowling's magical world. A deserved first place, wouldn’t you say?


3. Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
© WB | Source:
By far the most ridiculus looking woolfie, Oz (Seth Green) is still a cool addition to the Scooby Gang in Buffy. Since I am usually not a fan of the scary type of story, this guy is more up my alley. He's a senior in high school and plays in an alternative rock band. What sounds like destiny for eternal coolness in reality has more of a geeky vibe. Much like human Oz his werewolf alter ego is tamer than it seems. After one badass fight he decides to lock himself up during his transformation times, so he won't hurt anyone. After all he won't let his werewolf ways come in between him and his love Willow.

2. George Sands from Being Human (UK version; 2008-2013)
© BBC | Source: Being Human Wikia
As the show's name suggests George Sands tries everything to master his burden. He shacks up with a vampire and a ghost and together they try to keep each other in check. George does his best to live a normal life in the human world, despite always living with the threat of exposure and of other (evil) creatures out there. But even after transformation George Sands is able to highlight his human side and control his animalistic impulses. He can't help what he looks like, but he can certainly still choose who he wants to be and that, to me, makes him a werewolf woth admiring.

3. Peter Rumancek from Hemlock Grove (2013-2015)
© Netflix | Source: Hemlock Grove Wikia
Peter Rumancek is a gipsy werewolf, who is new in the mysterious town of Hemlock Grove, aaaand that comes with a lot of problems. Brooding and handsome as he is, people either find him attractive or want to be him - deep down. Being a gipsy already closes many doors, but when the rumor spreads that he's a werewolf and girls start getting killed he is really in for trouble. He sets out to clear his name and makes a friend in the rich and handsome, but slightly psychotic, Roman Godfrey along the way. It is to him that he reveals he really is a werewolf in the most badass and horrifically beautiful transformation I have ever seen.

So, who do you miss on our lists? Who are your favourite wolves in movies and TV?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Data Base: The Flash (2014 - present)

© The CW  |  Source: swurvradio

Series PremiereOctober 7, 2014
Series Finale ---
GenreAction, Drama, Superhero Fiction, Adventure
Country of OriginUnited States 
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes26
Running Time43 minutes
ChannelThe CW
Developed byGreg Berlanti, Andrew Kinsberg
StarringTom Cavanagh, Rick Cosnett, Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Patrick Sabongui, Carlos Valdes
Guest Stars Worth MentioningStephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Mark Hamill, Wentworth Miller, Emily Bett Rickards


At age 11 Barry Allen witnesses how his mother Nora is killed by a supernatural being, a yellow flash. His father Henry Allen is convicted for the crime and Barry comes into a foster family, determined to solve the mystery of his mother’s murder and prove his father’s innocence.
Fourteen years later Barry works as a forensic scientist for the Central City Police Department, when suddenly an explosion of the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator leads to him being struck by lightning. When he awakes from his coma nine months later, Barry finds out that he is able to move at superhuman speed and decides to use his powers to fight the crime in Central City and search for the true murder of his mother.

Yay or nay?

Being based on the eponymous DC comic series, The Flash is a must-see for fans of comic book adaptations. Unlike the majority of comic heroes that are currently all over our TV screens, Barry Allen is not the dark, gritty kind of superhero, but rather a charming, down-to-earth kind of guy, who often enough reminds of a little puppy. The great cast, strong character relationships, intricate plot lines and the mystery around Nora Allen’s murder make The Flash a highly entertaining and addictive show that is simply a treat to watch.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Film Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

© Universal Pictures International  |  Source: A Tale of Two Dans

USA; 119 min.; drama, romance, mystery, horror, gothic
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writing: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins
Cinematography: Dan Laustsen
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver, Burn Gorman, Leslie Hope

“Love makes monsters of us all.” – Lady Lucille Sharpe 

In an interview with The Guardian, director Guillermo del Toro stated that it wasn’t his intention to “reinvent” the gothic romance. He rather planned on bringing modern audiences closer to those stories abundant with supernatural occurrences, repressed eroticism and/or shocking psychological revelations. His Crimson Peak is indeed a very much by-the-book effort, presenting everything I’ve come to expect from the genre. And while Del Toro provides us with intriguing images and a thrilling final act, he mostly fails to establish strong lead characters and truly frightening sensations.

Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) falls head-over-heels for young Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). After a rushed marriage, the handsome baronet moves his new wife to live in his run-down family estate somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But Edith does not feel quite at home. For one, there’s Thomas’s controlling and grim sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastain), and then Edith is also haunted by a bunch of ghostly creatures who warn her of her new, apparently murderous, accommodation.

The Sharpe mansion is indeed the star of Del Toro’s film. Gloomy hallways, strange noises, old-fashioned furniture, a 19th-century elevator, dying flies on cupboards and moths flying out of every dark corner, blood-red clay seeping through the floorboards like the earth is ready to swallow the place whole – this house stands out as an ominous character on its own. The set design, in addition to the lush costumes and moody lighting choices, creates an atmosphere of spine-chilling opulence and a sense of unhealthy nostalgia, of lingering in a past that is rooted in rotten deeds.

I immediately get this The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) vibe. There’s a fair bit of Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) in there as well, and an abandoned wheelchair alludes to some Jane Eyre-ish madness in the attic. The film opens up another Poe-esque dimension with its abrupt outbursts of relentless, graphic violence. For me personally, these moments harbour much more shock than any of the ghost appearances throughout the film. Mostly computer-generated, these abstract and out-of-this-world looking beings never quite manifest themselves as a tangible threat to my peace of mind, and, most often, they pop up and vanish in a rather predictable fashion. While this particular look and the tame, old-school scare tactics probably were exactly what the Mexican director aimed to achieve, I had a difficult time being spooked by these swirling CGI spectres.

What also puts a damper on my overall enjoyment of the film is that most of the main characters suffer from a lack of depth and intrigue. Edith, especially. She starts off as an independent spirit (no pun intended) and shrivels into a meek, helpless creature whose sole purpose seems to be to uncover the manor mystery for us. I find this unfortunate since Mia Wasikowska is one of those actresses with beautiful understatement and emotional strength, and a bit more substance for her to work with would have been nice. Same goes for Tom Hiddleston. He succeeds in portraying the charming, tall and handsome stranger, but has to present a rather unconvincing development of his character towards the end of the film. Charlie Hunnam, as Edith’s secret admirer Dr. Alan McMichael, is the knight in shining armour, and that’s all there is to him.

It is Jessica Chastain as Lady Lucille who really steals the show. When the narrative focus shifts to her character in the final act, the film picks up pace and reaches a dynamic, captivating conclusion, in which even Edith’s self-esteem is ready to return. Chastain’s portrayal is calm and repressed, yet freaked and discomforting. She makes the most of a plot twist that I saw coming from miles away, and is ready to be fully wrapped up in lunacy. Fortunately, she doesn’t feel the need to resort to exaggerated fits of laughter or gaping eyes. Lucille’s craziness is dry, wonderfully wicked and even self-empowering.

Del Toro’s homage to gothic horror succeeds in evoking immersive visuals and paying tribute to genre classics of old. Unfortunately, a bunch of not-too-interesting core characters and a mostly too conventional approach to the material can occasionally result in a rather tedious viewing experience. And while the ghosts fail to stir my blood, Crimson Peak shines most in its finale in which it’s the human characters that leap down their respective spiritual abysses. 


Monday, 19 October 2015

Manic Monday: Michelle Tanner Moments

© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: fanpop

Another weekend has come and passed, and now we’re left to deal with the least favourite day of the week: the much dreaded Monday.

But nothing – not even a Monday – can be all that bad when seen through the eyes of a child, right? So let’s all get through this day by relying on some life wisdom or at least cute quotes from our favourite Full House (1987-1995) sweetheart Michelle Tanner (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen). It should brighten your day in any case, so have the most enjoyable Monday possible, BSPeeps, and remember:

© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: buzzfeed

© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: buzzfeed

© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: buzzfeed
© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: lovethispic

© Jeff Franklin Productions | Source: buzzfeed

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Top 3: Kick-Ass Scientists

Whether you want to call it October, Doc-tober, or International Dinosaur Month, this time of the year means summer is over and we're getting back to business. Some of us are back in school, some are just getting back to their mediocre kill-me-now everyday jobs, but others are lucky enough to have exciting professions working with dinosaurs, going to space, or exploring things. Man, we'd kill to have a kick-ass job like that - in real life or on screen! Today we therefore provide some inspiration for future occupations with our Top 3 Kick-Ass Scientists:


3. Dr. Ryan Stone from Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)
© Warner Bros. | Source: Zekefilm
This medical engineer, played by Sandra Bullock, uses her skills to aid in the exploration of one of the last frontiers: space. I know, many spaceships have already traversed the universe, but there are still countless planets and corners unknown to us. Stone's efforts are thus vital to understanding the history of our world and the worlds that surround us. When on her first space mission things go terribly wrong and she is catapulted into the endlessness of outer space, Stone demonstrates an inspiring dedication to save her own life and make it back to Earth. Words cannot describe how engrossed I was in seeing her defy gravity, death and, first and foremost, the emotional distress suffered by her due to a previous personal tragedy. She's one of those characters that I could easily become invested in because her ordeal is simply unimaginable, and because she brings me face to face with very human feelings of loss, guilt and loneliness.

2. Dr. Stephen Maturin from Master and Commander (Peter Weir, 2003)
© 20th Century Fox | Source: PorcupineSundae
There are many things to like in Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany, pictured on the far right). He's a talented, tough surgeon, a gifted cello player and a loyal friend to Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe). Aboard the British HMS Surprise during the Napoleonic Wars, he doesn't prioritise winning battles: he rather prefers to explore the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands. After all, Maturin is a scientist at heart, interested in the secrets and treasures of natural history. The fact that he abandons most of his discoveries on the island to help Aubrey gain an advantage over the French forces just goes to show that Maturin is a person to count on and trust in.

3. Evelyn Carnahan from The Mummy (Stephen Sommers, 1999)
© Universal Pictures | Source: AtomicRedhead
The undisputed number one on my list is this charming, young lady. Actually a trained librarian living in Cairo, Ms. Carnahan suddenly finds herself amidst an adventure involving a resurrected 3000-year-old, vengeful mummy (Arnold Vosloo). Actress Rachel Weisz plays Evelyn with enchanting naïveté while, at the same time, endowing her with brains, warmth, courage, toughness and an adventurous spirit that is just a joy to watch. She lives and breathes ancient history. She's a curious character seeking knowledge of days gone by, and I love her for pursuing her passion so vigorously - even when there's danger in her way.

Nata Lie:

3. John Carter from John Carter (Andrew Stanton, 2012)

© Walt Disney Pictures | Source: extratv
19th Century ex-Confederate Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) finds himself transported to Mars, after touching an old medallion in a mysterious cave. Due to the lower gravitational pull on the red planet, Carter is able to leap incredibly high and perform feats that require great physical strength. John Carter may not appear like a straightforward choice for this Top 3, but I added him anyway because of the movie’s archaeological interest in mysterious objects, cryptic runes and ruined cities. Moreover, Carter’s search for the medallion gives the film some kind of treasure-hunter vibe (and, quite frankly, I was running out of ideas for this ranking…)

2. Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
© Paramount Pictures | Source:graemesliterarytimemachine
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is probably THE most famous fictional archaeologist there is. Granted, he may not be the most sensitive at his job. I mean, he practically raids temples for the gold in them – not for the priceless knowledge he might gain about the culture of so far unknown ancient societies and that seems to defy the purpose of archaeology. Nonetheless, his ruffian, whip-cracking way of handling his job sure makes for good movies.

1. Lara Croft from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001)

© Paramount Pictures | Source: people.rit
Believe it or not, but being a big-busted action heroine is not the primary occupation of movie and videogame character Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) – she is actually an archaeologist.  Her adventures might not give us an authentic insight into the daily chores of an archaeologist, with her wielding weapons more often than shovels or paragliding through the city. But be honest now, isn’t that far more entertaining than a movie about someone digging through dirt and brushing dust off stones? In any case, it is the entertainment factor – both of the movies and the videogames – which led me to putting the tomb raider Lara Croft onto the top of my ranking.


3. Ross Geller from FRIENDS (1994-2004)
© WB | Source: Wikipedia
Admittedly the anti-hero in this category, Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) the dinosaur guy still deserves a mention. As the school and peer group geek Ross had to take a few hits and punch lines. But as passionate as he is about extinct, gigantic mamals, no one could deter him from working as a dinosaur expert at the NYC Museum of Natural History and teaching classes about dinos at university. Mind over matter he said and also managed the art of "Unagi", the total focus on all sensual perceptions and awareness at all times. You gotta respect the guy for his passion and perseverance!

2. Flynn Carsen from The Librarian (franchise)
© TNT | Source: verynerdycurly
Imagine Indiana Jones goes to the library and does some actual research - aaand can take a joke. Then you've got Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), who heads the Metropolitan Public Library, an age old institution in charge of protecting historical (and often magical) artefacts such as Excalibur or Pandora's Box. With charme and brains, this very humble librarian not only excells at his profession, but fights off greedy treasure hunters, who are endangering the preservation of important artifacts. Someone with an interesting job, who is in it for the wisdom and not the money has my uttermost respect (plus Noah Wyle is nice to look at)!

1. Doc Brown from Back to the Future (franchise)
© Back to the Future | Source: Back to the Future wikia
Duudes, if Doc Emmett Brown hadn't made this list, I wouldn't have published it! I mean, the man invented time travel for God's sakes. All that time travelling also took place in style, since he scored a sweet ride, a DeLorean DMC 12, as his mode of transportation. Doc Brown was waaaay ahead of his time, charging the time machine with lightning bolts and banana peels. Now that's what you call alternative energy! The conscious man that he is, the Doc firstly used time travel to correct all complications to world history caused by his amazing invention! So how could he not be my number one spot of coolest freaking professionals ever?! - Also, I love saying flux capacitor :D

So there you have it folks, our Top 3 Kick-Ass Scientists. We hope you will be lucky enough to score a sweet job like that sometime in the future! After all, come next week, you might run into Doc Brown and could ask him for some pointers ;)

Finally, we'd like to know: what are your Top 3 Kick-Ass Scientists?