Goodmorning, goodafternoon , goodevening, or maybe even goodnight! No idea when you are reading this post ofcourse, but I always try to be polite. So, we are already at the halfway point of February, and that means it is time to reveal the theme for next month. A few of you already knew about this (because really I am terrible at keeping secrets), but for those of you that didn’t yet know or for some reason missed the title of this post: it’s anime! I’m very excited for this month, for not only is it a theme that is very close to my heart, it’s also because if all goes well I have some collab posts lined up that I am really looking forward to. Just like last month I am going to ask you for some help again. For this month I am going to be reviewing two animes that will be selected by you the readers. And yes…..there are again a couple of rules for this. Ugh….I know I hate them too. But let’s get them over with, shall we?
Well, don’t worry I’m not going to make them very tough again, so here goes:
The anime must either be on Crunchyroll or Netflix (please bear in mind that I live in Holland, so not every show might be available to me. If it isn’t I ofcourse will let you know, so you are able to choose another one)
The anime must have a maximum length of 12-13 episodes (It can be a first season, if it has that number of episodes)
Any genre of anime is allowed, except full on comedy series (sorry, I just don’t like that genre and would not even know how to write a review for that)
Leave your choice for the two animes in the comments section
You can leave a comment on this post up until the 25th of February
The two animes that will be selected will be revealed on the 1st of March and just like last month I am going to use a random number generator to determine who has won
The two bloggers that have won will get an honorable mention on my blog
That’s it! Pretty simple huh? As always I want to thank you for your help, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you are going to come up with. Rest assured for the people that are not into anime, there will still be other content as well such as movie reviews and hopefully another Korean drama series. See you on the next post!
There is a question that many people wonder about. What happens when we die? Will we simply cease to exist? Will we somehow be reborn, enter Heaven or maybe even Hell? No matter what you believe in, I don’t think it’s a question that we will ever get an answer to until the moment arrives. Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am pretty happy to postpone that moment for as long as I can. It’s not that I fear death, but I am pretty happy with living right now thank you very much. But we all check out at some point, that’s pretty much the only certainty we have in life. (Oh yeah, and taxes but I always tend to forget that one for some reason). Well, I can hear you thinking right now: “This is a very cheerful subject:NOT! I’m going to move on and check out something else”. Well, if you do you are going to miss out on a review for the best Korean drama series that I have seen so far in my life. So please bare with me just a little bit longer okay?
In Black we meet up with Kang Ha-ram a young woman who has always had a very special ability ever since she was a child. When she looks at people she sometimes sees dark shadows forming behind them. These shadows are always the signs that the death of that person is very near. Ha-ram hasn’t been happy with this power at all, and the only way she can avoid it, is by wearing sunglasses. One day she crosses paths with police officer Han Moo-gang who she is stunned to recognise as a boy from her childhood, one was always very kind to her. She has not seen him in almost 20 years, but it appears that he has really changed. He doesn’t seem at all like the kindhearted young boy who she remembers, but instead has turned into a very coldhearted insensitive man. And she would be right, as Moo-gang has not only changed but is now possessed by a Grim Reaper. But this is not the only problem that Ha-rang is going to face. When a body is found, certain events are set in motion that will uncover a very dark secret and conspiracy that has been buried for a very long time. And certain people will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from rising to the surface…..even it means killing everyone in their path.
Okay, let me make one thing clear, and this is very, very important. Do not, I repeat not drop this show after watching the first two episodes. I almost did this, and am eternally grateful that I did not. When this series starts you will be very confused. What exactly is this series trying to be? Is it a police drama, a supernatural mystery, or, and this is what I feared the most, a slapstick comedy? The first two episodes were a mess and the “comedy” was so cringeworthy that I very nearly gave up. But man, am I glad that I did not. Black is a show that by the time you start with episode 3 is almost impossible to turn off. The story it tells is tense, gripping, emotional and will have you in tears, on the edge of your seat, as well as laughing all at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster ride that will never let up. The best element in this series is how it draws you the viewer into the storyline trying to figure out how all the puzzlepieces fit together. And just when you think you have figured it all out, it throws another twist at you, and you have to start from scratch again.
There is a huge cast of actors, and as such it’s impossible to cover them all. I will instead focus on the two leads, but suffice it to say that every single actor involved in this series is great. No matter how small their parts were. And no, that is not me just saying so, just to get this over and done with in a quick way. Actor Song Seung-heon plays the part of the Grim Reaper possessed cop Moo-gang. His acting is superb and I love the way how his character evolved throughout the series. He can tackle basically everything, from actionscenes, to anger, to comedy to drama, everything he does is believable. His precense just lights up the screen everywhere he appears. But his chemistry with lead actress Go Ara, who plays the role of Ha-ram is also a huge part of what makes this series work so well. And speaking of her, you will completely fall in love with the character she portrays. Ha-ram is a feisty woman, who always has some very snappy comebacks, but is also very caring and emotional at the same time. This series is really her story, and that’s why it is important to have an actress who can carry that part. Go Ara really gets the job done, and then some.
Black is a series that blends many elements together and that’s why it can be enjoyed by a pretty large number of people. Even though the show has supernatural elements, it never let’s these elements take the upper hand. Above all this is a solid and very cleverly written murder mystery, with a touch of action and suspense and the occasional humor thrown into the mix. And of course there is also some romance, but this only adds to the strength of the series instead of diminishing it. So in case you haven’t yet noticed, I absolutely loved this show. The only reason I haven’t given it the perfect 10/10 score is that the first two episodes just felt out of place. And seriously, I was very close to dropping it, something I almost never do. But the rest of this Korean drama series is so fantastic, that I have all but forgotten about that. If you have yet to watch your first K-drama series, this might be the one to start with. I guarantee that you will not regret this. So, this concludes my review for the second series for the Korean Drama theme month. What’s up next you ask? I haven’t yet quite decided, but rest assured there is one more series review to come. Thank you for reading!
Okay, I’m going to start this review with a small confession. No worries, it really isn’t anything as shocking along the lines of ” I am really a serial killer”. But, here it comes nonetheless: I can be a really emotional guy. When there is injustice I can become really annoyed, and sometimes even very angry. But on the other side of the spectrum I can also cry at things that happen in a movie, or even at certain very personal blog posts. But really don’t hold that against me, okay? Emotions, or lack thereof, can tell a lot about a person. It pretty much defines what makes a person tick, at least that is what I think in my humble opinion. I have always wondered what would happen if I would possess no kind of emotion whatsoever. Let’s just take a few seconds and try to grasp what that means. You would not know when to laugh at a joke. When someone close to you dies, you would shed no tears. Even though there are certain moments in your life you maybe would have loved to lose a few emotions, I for one would never want to lose any of them. Because it would completely change my personality. And that, in a roundabout way brings me to this Korean drama.
Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok underwent a brain surgery as a child. This surgery has now caused him to lack any kind of emotion. He is a cold, calculated and very rational guy, that is very good at his job. His lack of empathy and social skills however, make it extremely hard for him to sometimes interact with other people. One day while investigating a new case, he finds the person he is looking into dead in his house. When the police arrives at the scene Shi-Mok doesn’t communicate with any of them, but instead focusses on finding the killer. This suspicious behaviour at first makes him a suspect. Police inspector Han Yeo-Jin is the one who is assigned the task of solving the case, and soon finds out that Hwang is innocent of the crime. Eventually the two of them team up to find the real killer. But when they find the alleged murderer, it soon becomes very clear that there is more to the case then both of them realise. A cesspool of corruption has been opened, one that is so deep that it goes to the highest levels of the justice department. Dark and dirty secrets are about to be revealed, and some people will stop at nothing to keep them buried….
Having just finished this Korean drama I have to say it has left me behind with mixed feelings. I certainly would not call this series bad, but there are certain things that I also didn’t like and that at the end kept me from really enjoying this to the fullest. As far as the story goes I have to say that it is incredibly complex containing many layers, and one could argue that it contains too many layers. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, with elements of corporate espionage, corruption and even soap opera thrown into the mix, Stranger has at times trouble in deciding what it wants to be. There were some truly intense and incredibly powerful moments in the show that really put a smile on my face. Some twists and turns where certainly unexpected, and added to the fun of watching this series. But then there were also episodes that were, for lack of a better word, rather dull, and just seemed to drag on and on. The story as mentioned is incredibly complex and because of it’s complexity there were moments where I lost track of things.
This last fact was only made even worse because of the huge number of characters that this drama contains. I usually don’t like shows or novels that contain such a huge cast of names that it becomes hard to remember who a certain person was. But despite that fact it’s the acting in this series that really is one of it’s strongest points. Hwang Shi-Mok, played by Cho Seung-Woo is a character that is hard to grow attached to. Because of his lack of emotions he walks around the series with pretty much the same expression on his face at every scene. At first this becomes very tedious, but then I started to realise what a brilliant job the actor is really doing. It is incredibly hard to just not respond emotionally to people that are laughing or crying. I came to really enjoy Shi-Mok’s awkwardness, especially around police detective Han Yeo-Jin. She was played by actress Bae Doo-Na and became my favorite character of the series. The complete opposite of Shi-Mok, she is a feisty and tenacious woman, who tries her best to solve the case but at the same time shows empathy when she needs to. And she is also in for a joke or two, often at the expense of her partner.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is the music that supports this drama. It certainly ranks as the best background music I have heard in any Korean drama series to date, and helps bring the atmosphere of this series to life. In the end I can say that I do recommend the show. Even though there are certainly moments in it’s 16 episode run that really are pretty boring, there also enough things in it that balance the score in the end. The difficult and complex script, does eventually pay off, and the acting in the series alone is certainly worth watching it for. While there are definitely better dramas out there, it’s a good series if you are just willing to invest some time and patience in it. If you have become interested in the show after reading this, you can watch the series on Netflix. This concludes the first post for my theme month of Korean dramas. Thanks as always for reading and see you at the next post!
Hello everyone. This is going to be a short post to announce the first theme of this year. As I mentioned in my plans for the upcoming year, each month will have a certain theme that will get a little bit more coverage than all the other things. That’s not to say, I won’t be writing reviews for movies, anime etc, but the theme of the month will just get a few more posts than the others. And as you can see in the big bold letters above this text, January’s theme is going to be Korean Dramas.
What exactly is a Korean drama?
As not everyone might be familiar with these let me explain just a little bit about them. Korean drama shows are pretty much the same as a regular tv series, except for the fact that they usually run for a single season (with a few exceptions). That means they are selfcontained stories that unfold in one season and then end. The great thing about that is the fact that you don’t run a risk that a show might get cancelled in the middle of a cliffhanger. Korean dramas have quite a large number of topics, such as crime, romance, period pieces, and these days they even have a few series that have sci-fi elements in them. If this has gotten your interest you might want to check out the website Viki that will let you watch these legally for free (with of course a few commercials thrown into the mix). Another great source for news and recommendations is the truly awesome blog Kdramakisses run by the amazingly kind Kay.
What will I be reviewing?
No, that’s exactly right, I am not going to tell you yet which shows I will be watching. Yes I know, I am evil like that. But I have to keep up a little bit of suspense right? I plan on watching three shows however, so keep your eyes out for the reviews that will start to make an appearance later on in this month. Thank you for reading, and see you all at the next post!
Last year I saw an anime that ended up being one of the best that I have ever seen to date in my life. It was called Erased and I gave it a perfect score at the time. Having not yet revisited it I don’t know if I would give it the same score today that I gave it back then. The review for it was written in the early days of my blog, but I do know that I absolutely loved it. So when I heard they were going to be producing a live action series based on the manga/anime, the first thought that went through my mind was “Oh God, please not this again”. As most anime fans will know, the reputation for these kind of shows/movies that are based on our beloved animated series isn’t one to be very proud of. In fact, it’s downright abysmal if you look at it closely. But, since I loved the anime so much I decided to at least watch the pilot for this one and give it a chance……So, I guess you are all waiting for what I eventually thought of it huh? Okay, I will get to that after I present the plot, but how about when I say that this might just be the best live action anime adaptation ever. Did that catch your attention? Right…as I was saying let’s start with the plot first.
The aspiring manga artist Satoru has a gift. Or a curse depending on which way you look at it. With the ability called Revival he is able to travel back in time to prevent bad things from happening. He always experiences it just before some kind of calamity occurs, and he usually has a short time window to stop it. But Satoru is always able to save the day just in time. But then one day he arrives home and finds his mother dead on the floor with a knife sticking out of her back. With his hands covered in blood Satoru becomes the prime suspect for this grissly deed. Just when he is about to get caught by the police his Revival ability kicks in. But this time it takes him back farther in time than ever before. To his childhood to be exact, 18 years in the past. Now with his adult mind in the driver’s seat of his 11 year old self, he has to find a way to prevent his mother’s death and that of three of his classmates. Most notably the young girl Kayo Hinazuki who he has grown very close to. But his opponent is a very cunning and brutal serial killer that will stop at nothing to achieve his goals…….
One of the things that live action adaptations, or any adaptations as a matter of fact usually get wrong is that they stray too far from the source material. Or don’t even use it at all. And that’s where Erased really shines. This 12 part Netflix series captures the heart and soul of what made the original so great in the first place. Things like friendship, never giving up, but also it’s darker themes such as child abuse all make an appearance. In the first 6-7 episodes the people who have seen the anime will find it follows the storyline very closely. They throw a few other things and twists in the mix but other than that it resembles it’s anime counterpart almost exactly. In what can be called the second act, it diverges it’s story into other directions without going completely off the rails. In fact I liked that they also devised some original storylines as well, because else the outcome would have been very predictable.
Another thing you will notice when you start watching this is how gorgeous everything looks. The cinematography is stunning in this series. From the bleak factories, to the snowfilled landscapes and beautiful sunsets, everything almost looks like a painting. It really helps in setting the overall tone and atmosphere for this. The acting for this is also pretty good with one noteworthy exception. The children especially are extremely well cast, particularly the girl who plays the young Hinazuki. Just as in the anime she really is going through hell in this show, and the tv series doesn’t shy away from that subject either. Even though Hinazuki appears to be a little bit older than her anime counterpart, the actress that portrays her does a great job making us care about her character. In fact the only actress I didn’t like in certain scenes was the one who plays Airi, the girl who has a crush on the older Satoru. There were a couple of moments that were a bit cringeworthy in the way she portrayed them, but they don’t cause enough trouble to really become a problem.
If I want to be nitpicking I can also point out that there is a certain character that at one point has a fake beard that looks so stupid it is almost laughable. In fact I found myself wondering who on Earth came up with that. But that’s a relatively minor issue in what is otherwise a truly awesome show. With the episodes being only 30 minutes long, Erased has the name bingewatch written all over it. If you have not yet seen the anime I think you are going to enjoy this series even more than those who did. As the show basically tells the same story there are not many surprises in store for the fans of the anime. But as a fan I can say that I still enjoyed this one immensely. This is without a doubt the best anime live action adaptation that I have ever seen and I highly recommend this series. It is not as good as the anime, in that I can be honest, but it does come very, very close. Erased is a really terrific series that tells a heartbreaking, exciting and sometimes downright chilling story. I dare you not to finish this one in one go.
I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.
In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..
Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.
As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.
For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.
If you have never heard of the name Stephen King then you really should be pretty ashamed of yourself. Erm, no offense of course. Seriously though, he is awesome. One of the best known writers of our time, he has written so many classic horror novels that it’s almost impossible to pick a favorite. I do have one though, and my choice is not one of the obvious ones like for instance The Shining or The Stand. As much as I love those, for me it has so far always been the novel Christine that is my alltime number one King book. There is a very good reason behind my choice, but I will get to that later. However, as you might have noticed above, I’m not going to talk about the novel, but I will instead talk about the movie. Made by director John Carpenter (yes the same man who is behind Halloween), this is one of the better Stephen King adaptations and a film that I have seen more times than I can count. So what is it about this film that makes it such a compelling watch? Let’s hit the road and find out.
Arnie Cunnigham is a highschool student who just isn’t one of the most popular guys around. In fact that is quite the understatement. Arnie is a bit of a nerd, a fact that is exploited by the school bully Buddy Repperton. There is one bright spot though and that his friendship with the football jock Dennis. His friend always stands up for him and protects Arnie whenever possible. After a particularly nasty confrontation with Buddy, Arnie is driven home by Dennis. But while driving along Arnie all of a sudden screams out at Dennis begging him to stop. Having no idea what’s going on, Dennis stops, and looks on in bewilderment when his friend rushes out of the car towards an old beat up vehicle that has a for sale sign on it. It becomes even crazier when Arnie tells him he’s going to buy it. The old wreck is a Plymouth Fury from 1957 that goes by the name Christine. Dennis just can’t believe what has gotten into Arnie, buying a car that looks like it won’t live past tomorrow. However after a few weeks Christine looks as if she just rolled off the assembly line. A fact that is almost impossible to believe. The scary thing is though, that the car seems to have a life of it’s own. Arnie’s personality also changes overnight, and when people start dying under suspicious circumstances, it soon becomes clear that Christine is no ordinary car….
Everyone who has ever been bullied at school must have once had thoughts of taking revenge on the people that mistreated them. I know I sure have. And that’s one of the things that I enjoyed about this story, and why it’s still my favorite King novel. Bullying has an impact on your life, it certainly did on mine, and it’s extremely satisfying to see the revenge Arnie (or more accurately Christine) takes on his nemesis Buddy Repperton and his lackeys. That’s not to say that this doesn’t take things to the extreme though. There is also an underlying tone of deep sadness to this film. Dennis asks his friend in the beginning what Arnie sees in that beat up old car. He answers by saying that he has finally found something that is more ugly than he is. That line gets me every time. It’s so powerful, and extremely sad. All this goes to show how people change after being bullied and start believing in things that aren’t there.
But before this turns into a straight up sobfest, let us not forget that this movie is also a horror movie. And a very good one at that. One of the most fascinating things about this story is Arnie’s change in personality. While this is explored much better in the book, we still see it in the movie as well. In the beginning of the film he is a shy and nerdy young man, who is afraid to stand up for himself. But then, after buying Christine Arnie changes into a cocky, selfcentered and quite frankly obnoxious person, who even gets to date the most beautiful girl in the school. Of course with Christine’s influence becoming more and powerful, everything goes down hill faster and faster. It’s a scary journey to behold, but also one of the best things of the film. The other being Christine of course. No matter what happens to her, getting smashed, burned, it all matters very little. Christine always comes back. Something that is brought to life in a wonderful way by the special effects.
Carpenter manages to create a tense atmosphere throughout the entire movie. The score for the film was made by him as well, and only adds to the experience. All the actors in the film, no matter how small their parts, played their roles to perfection. Strangely enough most of the cast never really made big progress in their careers after the release of this movie. A fun note is that Alexandra Paul, who would later appear in quite a few seasons of Baywatch, played Arnie’s girlfriend. She is almost unrecognisable here. So if it hasn’t already become clear, I love this film. For me it’s always been one of Carpenter’s best movies and even after all these years it’s lost none of it’s strength, nor is it in any way dated. Important to note is that the film is not gory at all, but more a very tense thriller. I highly recommend this movie and it can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone. So go and watch it, and don’t forget to put on your seatbelt. Always watch responsibly.
Well, Halloween is over, and we all need to wait another year to go out as a creature that bumps into the night. Erm, yeah that actually does sound pretty disturbing: moving on. Even though everyone’s favorite fright night is over, that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching horrormovies. In fact I am certainly not planning on stopping with them anytime soon. It’s now been seven years since the last Saw movie sawed itself into our brains (oh, come on, you had to know I would at least include one pun like this). Marked as the final chapter, this movie was really an alltime low for the franchise, and ended the series in a truly bad way. The original Saw was a great thriller, but the series as a whole quickly degenerated into torture porn and became for many a sort of guilty pleasure. But it turns out that in horror adding the “final chapter” to your title, just means: until it’s time to make some money again. And that’s why this year the franchise returns to the big screen with the 8th installment, Jigsaw. The big question is: are we going back to it’s thriller roots, or are bodyparts, intestines, brains and everything else that’s supposed to be inside a human body going to come flying out again…..?
The movie starts in the middle of a highspeed police chase that ends with the criminal crashing his car. He manages to survive the crash though, and escapes to a nearby rooftop, with the police in hot pursuit. With nowhere left to run, the man who is known as Edgar Munsen, turns around holding a trigger device in his hand. He calls out to the police to quickly bring out detective Halloran, or else people will start to die. With Halloran arriving on the scene the police eventually have no choice but to shoot Edgar, but not before he manages to activate the trigger. With this act, over the course of several days, bodies are beginning to turn up throughout the city. All people who seem to have come to a violent end. An expert forensic pathologist called Logan is called in to do an autopsy on the first victim. As it turns out, the murder bears an uncanny resemblance to a string of homicides that were committed more than ten years ago by a man known as John Kramer. Most people know him as the serial killer Jigsaw. The truly disturbing fact though, is that Jigsaw has been dead for ten years……..
I think there are probably two questions burning in everyone’s mind right now. The first: is this movie better than the atrocious part VII? The second: are we back to torture porn, or is this actually more along the lines of the first one? Well, let’s start with question number one as it’s the easiest to answer. Jigsaw is definitely much better than the final chapter. Of course the last part was so horribly bad that it was almost impossible to deliver a movie that was even worse. But in all honesty, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Jigsaw explored the roots of the original movie, and was therefore less gruesome than all the previous sequels. So I guess I already answered the second question as well now. The movie certainly contained gore, it is a horrormovie after all, but except for a small scene at the end it never went completely overboard. And this was actually quite refreshing.
And then there are two things this franchise is also known for, and those are the clever traps and the twist at the end. Both of these were of course present in this movie as well. The traps however, were slightly disappointing. As sick as this sounds, those were the things that made the sequels so much fun to watch and on that department the movie doesn’t deliver as strongly. I did quite enjoy the twist at the end though. Several other reviews for the movie pointed out that the movie failed on that front too, but I have to say I disagree. The end of the movie was one of the better parts of the film, and actually quite clever. The characters of the film, are pretty much forgettable. Detective Halloran played by Callum Keith Rennie is simply not a person you get a lot of sympathy for. The main heroine of the movie, who is trying her best to survive the horrible game she is in, is portrayed by Laura Vandervoort. Most people might know her from the tv series Bitten. She is the only one in the film that you can at least grow a bit of an attachment to, and she plays quite a good and strong female role.
After seven years the Saw franchise is back with a pretty decent installment. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the genre, and doesn’t come close to being as good as the original movie. If you are fan though, you are going to be entertained, and I think in a pretty good way. It will be interesting to see, if this movie is now going to be a restart of the franchise. I certainly would not be opposed to seeing more films if they are on the same level as this eight film. In all likelyhood I would not be very surprised to see it quickly fall back to over the top gore and torture. In other words, there will be blood….oh yes….
It is saturday morning, the 28th of October. I’m going through my checklist. Have I locked the door? Have I turned off my phone? Did I stock up on foodsupplies? Did I make sure that I have cancelled all my appointments for the day? I feel the fear swiftly take a hold of me. I did do all these things right? Calmly I exhale…yes, I have checked everything multiple times now. A grim smile crosses my face: I am ready. Quietly I walk towards the remote of my television set. With my heart pounding like thunder, I press the play button and see the Netflix logo appearing. I sit back, grab my cup of hot coffee and whoop with joy. Yes people season 2 of Stranger Things is finally here. I imagine the scene I just described has been playing across multiple homes across the globe this weekend. Albeit probably a bit less dramatic. So, in case you have yet to discover this tv series, I’ve got you covered. Last year I did a review for the first season, which you can find right here.
What’s that? Can’t I just give a quick description? Sure. Stranger Things is pretty much a loveletter to everything that made the 80’s so awesome. The series is set in the 80’s and focusses on a group of friends that end up in the middle of a mystery that is out of this world. You will find references to all your favorite movies from that era, like the Goonies, E.T., Aliens, the Thing and a whole bunch more. To say that I am in love with this series is an understatement. So you are warned that this review for the second season is going to be me gushing pretty much over how awesome this show really is. But I will be doing that spoilerfree, and sure I will try and be as objective as I can. With a series that had such a strong opening season, there is always a lot of pressure. Will it be as good? Aren’t they going to ruin everything what you loved so much about the series in the first place? Well….they didn’t. In fact, at some points it was even better. Now of course I will get to that soon, but let’s first get to the story of the second season.
Season 2 takes place a year after the events of the first season. Will Byers is safely back, and tries to pick up his life as best he can after the trauma he suffered. Supported by his group of friends, they get back into the things they love doing. However, soon Will is beginning to experience terrifying visions of the Upside Down. It seems that the supernatural forces are still out there, and are trying to get back into the world, with the intent of destroying it and humanity. But is Will just having after effects of his earlier experiences or is there something more sinister going on? In the meantime Sheriff Hopper is having problems of his own. He is trying to keep something a secret in order to protect the ones he loves the most. But in doing so, he might just be making things even worse. It is not long before all hell is going to break loose and a terrifying presence from beyond is going to make itself known. Once again it will be up to Mike and the rest of his band of misfits to save the world. But this time, the stakes are much, much higher, and the question becomes if they are going to be up to this task…..
The first thing you will notice when you are starting with the second season is that the pace has been changed. Events are moving at a much slower rate, and we are spending more time getting into the minds of the characters, instead of going into all out action mode. I did not think this was a bad thing though, but I can understand how some viewers might also consider some of it a bit too slow for their tastes. The strength of this show however is the characters. Whoever did the casting for this series should definitely get a raise. I am in awe of the acting abilities of some of these kids. We have to consider the fact that these are relatively young children, but from the way they are acting you would say they had been doing it for years. But next to the regulars we also get a bunch of new additions to the cast. This is always risky, as with a cast as awesome as this, you really wonder if any new ones don’t throw a wrench into the well oiled machine.
But here there are also no problems, as they all work out incredibly well. My favorite had got to be tomboy Max who adds some much needed girlpower to the group. She is a feisty and spirited girl that you will fall in love with right from the start. Her stephbrother though is a whole other matter. A truly loathsome guy, who thinks he is God’s greatest gift to women, he is a seriously annoying presence, but in a very good way. It’s always terrific when you get a character that you truly hate, but also want to see more of because he is played so well. We also get a new love interest for Winona Ryder’s character namely the good guy Bob Newby. Played by Sean Astin, who once played in the Goonies, this is just one of those characters that basically can’t do anything wrong. Finally Paul Reiser portrays a new scientist called dr. Owens that works at the lab that started the whole mess. At the beginning it is pretty unclear just what his motives are, and whether or not his intentions are evil or not. I always enjoy shady characters like that, and it’s nice to figure stuff like that out.
As you might have noticed I have kept things about the plot relatively in the dark. That’s because I really don’t want to spoil things for anyone that still has to see this. Don’t worry about the fact that things start off slow though. The pace will pick up soon enough, and there is still plenty of action. As mentioned above I thought this season at some points was even better. I loved finding out more about all the characters, and the special effects for all of these episodes were also a step up from the ones seen in Season 1. Clearly they just had a much bigger budget, and could therefore spent a lot more money. Overall though, one has to be honest and say that everything in this season was simply playing it very safe. There were no real surprises and they just made sure that the viewers got everything they loved about the first season and then some. Not that this was a bad thing though, but one has to wonder what they are going to be doing for season 3.
Season 3 you say? Yes. Stranger Things will reportedly get at least three more seasons , with the next one already heading into the production phase. And I love it! Yes, the series has to be careful to not play it too safe, and hopefully will also try and bring a bit more surprises into the existing storyline next season. That being said, the mythology of this show along with the wonderful cast of characters, is something that I don’t mind spending more time with. This series is awesome, and simply the best series on Netflix at this moment. It’s one those shows that makes you sad when the credits start to roll on the final episode. Stranger Things season 2 is a terrific watch, and if you were already a fan, you will even be more of a fan after this one. The lack of surprises made me not give this season a 10/10 score like last year, but it was another amazing ride and one that I did not regret for even a single second. Well…time to unlock the door and plug in the phone again. Let’s get back to the real world.
I give season 2 of Stranger Things a 9 out of 10 score.
They say there exists a form of evil in each and every one of us. Some people just have more darkness in them than others. Yes, I know how very ominous this sounds. But let’s face it, I think that when you look at it we all might have had a point in our lives, where we have done something in anger. And that clashes with your normal personality. Luckily these usually are very brief moments (at least I hope they are), and after your anger has subsided you try to make it up to the person or persons you might have hurt in the process. But what if you lack that capacity? What if you are a person that is completely devoid of human emotion? There is a certain moment in the classic 1978 film Halloween, in which doctor Loomis describes the villain from the movie, Michael Myers. And it almost mirrors exactly what I have just said. It is a chilling scene, one that creeps up your spine, when you begin to realise what kind of being Michael truly is. And how evil can sometimes take on human form….
On a dark and stormy night a young girl brushes her hair in front of a mirror. She has just had sex with her boyfriend and she seems very content and happy. Her happiness soon turns to horror however, when her kid brother Michael Myers enters the scene with a big and very sharp knife. Without any emotion whatsoever he stabs her to death. What makes it all the more horrifying is that he is only six years old. Fifteen years later Michael escapes from the mental institute that he has been taken to, after committing the brutal murder. Doctor Loomis the psychiatrist, that has been treating him for the past few years is the only one that knows what he is capable of. And he also knows where he is going: Haddonfield the town where Myers grew up in. Wandering around his hometown, Michael soon stumbles upon the teenage girl Laurie Strode and her friends. At Halloween night his thirst for murder begins anew. And young Laurie will soon discover that some Halloweens are much scarier than others. In the meantime doctor Loomis is desperately trying to find the escaped killer. But it may already be too late, for Michael has come home…..
John Carpenter is a legend. He has certainly made a few of my alltime favorite horrormovies, and this certainly is one of them. When I rewatched this film I was actually amazed at how old this movie already is. But is it dated? Absolutely not. The opening scene of the film is still every bit as shocking as when I first saw it. And what surprised me even more is that there is little to no gore in this movie. It is technically a horrorfilm, but one that acts more as a thriller. And a very, very good one at that. The suspense and threat in this film is build up slowly, but in a extremely effective way. Subtle camera shots with Michael only standing in front of a house just ooze atmosphere and build up the tension to the extreme. It goes to show that you sometimes just need very little means to make a great film. Halloween went on to become one of the first real slasher movies, and of course created another legendary horror icon in the form of the relentless and unstoppable Michael Myers.
This movie was the debut film of Jamie Lee Curtis, and also earned her the nickname Screamqueen. Because wow, when she opens up her mouth and fills her lungs to start screaming it’s almost enough to make every window in her vicinity shatter. Seriously though, as young as she was here, it already showed her acting potential. Another great role is performed by the late Donald Pleasence. He portrays the almost obsessed doctor Loomis, the man that will stop at nothing to put an end to Michael’s reign of terror. But there is a third character in this film, and one that is not performed by an actor. It is however equally important to making Halloween become so effective: the music. The score, made by John Carpenter himself is classic, especially the theme of the film. It is nervewracking and manages to get your bloodpressure up every time it appears during tense scenes.
Halloween would eventually be followed by seven sequels, and two remakes. Halloween 2 starts straight after the ending scene of the first film, and is a pretty good second act. While not as enjoyable as the original, it is still well worth the watch. With the exception of part 3, Michael would continue to wreak havoc in the rest of the follow up movies. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to reprise her role three more times, and of those Halloween H20 is certainly the best one. Made exactly 20 years after the first part, here we see a mature Laurie that pretty much thought the demon from her past was dead. Luckily for us of course he wasn’t and it resulted in a very decent installment in this franchise. The less that is said about the remake movies, the better it is. Directed by Rob Zombie the remakes are filled with gore and swearing and just result in movies that just simply don’t have any respect for it’s origins. Quite recently Jamie Lee Curtis announced that she would face her nemesis one final time next year, to mark the movie’s 40th anniversary. It will be interesting to see how that movie is going to turn out, and if she still has the same lung capacity she had all those years ago. Down below you can revisit the trailer for the original film.
Halloween is still a very effective horrorthriller that is every bit as good now as it was back in 1978. If you have never seen this film before, it’s best to watch this on Halloween night. Just lock the doors, grab some popcorn and make sure to have a blanket to hide behind. It will help you….a bit. And even if you have seen the movie, it’s still great to give it a rewatch on the night of terror. This review concludes my series of Countdown to Halloween posts. I hope you all enjoyed this feature. I had a blast rewatching all these classics and writing the posts for them. So, over to you now. Have you seen this film? Any favorite moments, or did you perhaps even hate it for some reason? Let me know in the comments section. Oh yeah, and before I forget: Happy Halloween! 🎃