Tag Archives: Tv series

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

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.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

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…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

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.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

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.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

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.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

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Prison Break: Event Series (Season 5), American tv series (2017)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television series gets cancelled? It’s bad enough when something like that happens, but it’s even worse when it ends on a bad note. There have certainly been quite a few examples of tv series that were incredible but wrapped up with an absolutely horrible ending. I still remember the end of Dexter and how that really made me wonder how on Earth the creators of that series managed to completely ruin an otherwise brilliant show. Luckily there are also tv series that do end on a high note, and manage to give closure to the fans that have been following it. Prison Break was a televisionshow that ran for four seasons during a time that I always like to call “The Reign of the Big Three”. Yes, I know that sounds quite dramatic. The “Big Three” that I am talking about are three television series that really made an impact on the world of the small screen, 24, Lost and the aforementioned Prison Break. The final episode of that show aired just about seven years ago. It ended the series in a pretty satisfactory way, and I was quite happy with it myself.

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Never bring a gun to a fistfight…or was that the other way around? 

Lately there has been a renewed interest in resurrecting old television properties with small new seasons. The X-files and 24 already had a go at this, and this year it was Prison Break’s turn to continue the show with a 9 episode event series. This fifth season picks up the story seven years after Michael Scofield’s death. His brother Lincoln Burrows has tried his best to make a living, but has fallen back into some of his past criminal behaviour. One day when he arrives back at his home, he sees an old familiar face sitting on his porch: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Apparently he has just been released from prison, but he brings with him a message that is kind of hard to believe. Bagwell shows Burrows a picture of Michael sitting inside a prison in Yemen, alive and well. Lincoln at first thinks this is all a trick. But soon certain events are starting to happen that are beginning to make him doubt. Reaching out to Michael’s former wife Sara, who is now remarried, he says he is going to Yemen to find out the truth once and for all. But why has Michael not reached out to them once in all those years? And is Michael still the same man he was or has he turned into someone who is all but unrecognisable……

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Let’s see you break out of this one…I dare you. 

 

So the question I guess that is very valid to ask for this fifth season is: Do we really need this? As I mentioned before I was quite happy with the way the show ended. It gave closure to all the storylines and characters and nothing was left untouched. When you do something like this, you of course run the risk of ruining things. But before I get into that, let’s first start with the positives. It was awesome to spent some time again with all the old familiar faces. Fan favorites T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note all returned for this, and played in a few critical events. However the main focus was on Michael, Lincoln and Sara, and that was a good thing. It’s almost as if they never left, and it was great to see the actors play again and reprise the roles of these beloved characters. The cast is joined by a couple of new characters as well, of which the most interesting one is Whip. There is a revelation about him later on in the season which I certainly did not see coming. He is a great character and played very well by actor Augustus Prew.

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Looking at this picture it’s kind of hard to tell if this is Prison Break or the Walking Dead.

Another thing that was very positive was that this season takes us all over the world. Most of the time is spent in Yemen and these were definitely the best episodes. They don’t call this series Prison Break for nothing, and of course a jailbreak is again part of the story. But the location itself adds a pretty cool element, and gives it a bit more flavour. The problem I had with this event series is that it all started very well, but then something just went wrong. The first couple of episodes were full of action, had a lot of tension, and some nice twists and turns. But by the time the series hits episode 7 it all started to drag a little bit. It’s almost as if the money ran out, and the writers were told they had to finish it all. As such we end up with a really rushed finale that just did not leave a lasting impression and left me feeling a bit hollow. It again brings me back to my original question, did we really need this?

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Please tell me that we are not doing another season after this one. 

It’s a tough question to answer. I can honestly say that this certainly wasn’t a bad season. For fans of the series, there was enough in it to certainly make it a worthwhile watch. It was nice to see most of the original cast returning for this, and in the beginning it recaptured a lot of the magic of what made the show so awesome in the first place. But the wrap up for this event series did leave a lot to be desired. If this season would not have been made, I would not have felt left out in any way whatsoever. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not you should watch this. If you are a fan I guess you will enjoy it, I won’t lie to you there. To give you a little bit of an impression for this season I’m going to leave you with the trailer.

I give Prison Break Event Series a 7 out of 10 score.

Ergo Proxy, Anime tv series (2006)

Have you ever felt the pressure when you are writing a review? A cold sweat that the things you are about to write might not go over so well with everyone? I’m feeling that pressure right now. A certain amount of dread for a review that I have been promising for quite a while now. Namely that of the anime Ergo Proxy. And now that I’m actually starting my first draft for this, I don’t really know where to start. Because honestly I have no clue what to make of this series. When I first started watching this, and that was weeks ago, I really felt this was a anime that contained a lot of elements that I usually enjoy quite a lot. A dark dystopian future, a very unusual but utterly terrific style of animation, and characters that at first I thought I would really like. But at some point, it all started to go wrong. At least for me it did. So what happened? Let’s first talk about what this series is all about, before I am going to dive into the review itself.

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It was a dark and stormy night….unfortunately it was like this every night, and day.

Ergo Proxy is set into a future where thousands of years ago the planet was all but destroyed by a global ecological disaster. What is left of humanity lives on in a domed city called Romdo. It is supposed to be a utopia, but as is so often the case beneath all the shine, dark secrets are being kept from the general public. The humans that live in Romdo coexist with androids called AutoReivs. The AutoReivs serve humanity in different kind of ways either as Companions or Entourages. The peace is soon shattered when a series of grissly murders take place. Re-L Mayer is the investigator who is assigned to look into the case together with her AutoReiv partner Iggy. While at the site of one the murders, Re-L encounters an unknown entity. She has never seen anything like that before and later she is attacked at her house by a similar being. Her investigation eventually leads her to a young immigrant called Vincent Law that seems to be involved with these mysterious creatures called Proxys. But just how is he connected to them, and just what exactly is a Proxy? All the answers to these questions might be more than Re-L can handle, and might shake Romdo to it’s very core….

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You meet the strangest people these days while donating blood.

Ergo Proxy starts very promising. The first ten or so episodes tell a very interesting supernatural mystery, with some intriguing moments that will have you guessing at every turn. Re-L’s investigation into just what exactly is going on is a fascinating journey to follow, with many twists and turns. Eventually she ends up outside the city of Romdo together with Vincent Law and a young AutoReiv called Pino. And that is the point where it all started to go wrong for me. Every episode afterwards sees the three of them travelling across a dark and very depressive landscape aboard an airship. And almost nothing happens. The time is spent with a lot of talking, and talking….and more talking. Okay, this is maybe a bit of an exageration, but it is not very far of the mark. I don’t mind slow series at all. I certainly watched quite a few of those that were incredibly entertaining. But I do mind it, when a show goes into very deep philosophy mode about subjects that I can really not make heads nor tails of. And it becomes even worse for me when all of a sudden an episode is inserted that is just complete and utter crazyness.

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Woohoo….at least one character is happy in this show!

Let me explain that last remark. Episode 15 sees our three leads enter a quizshow completely out of the blue. Yes you read that right, a quizshow. It is so incredibly out of place when compared to the rest of the series that one just had to wonder what the point of it was. Another thing that I was not satisfied with, was the wrap up of the story. Everything just goes into full on speed mode in the last 3 episodes. It was almost as if the creators were thinking we don’t have any time left, let’s finish this as quick as we can. The result is an unsatisfactory conclusion with quite a few things just not fully explained. And then there are the characters. Both Re-L and Vincent are just not really people that I would love to make friends with. They are incredibly dull, have an expression on their faces most of the time as if someone has died, and quite frankly were not people I could feel any sympathy for. Which is a real shame because the design for Re-L especially is really beautiful. She looks bad ass so to speak, and could have ended up as a truly amazing character.

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Yeah, I just had to include another picture of the happy character.

This is turning a bit into a rant, for which I am truly sorry. Is there nothing positive? Yes there is. The animation style is really unusual but also very beautiful. The dark city of Romdo looks amazing, and so do the truly dark backgrounds. And then there is the character of Pino. This young childlike AutoReiv was a joy to watch, and one of the only shining lights in a series that consisted of characters that at any point seemed almost ready to take their lives. Or at least that was what they looked like at times. Pino was infected with the so called Cogito virus that makes her self aware. It only made her more human, and quite luckily a very welcome happy note in this very depressive series. The storyline itself, besides the for me truly poor execution, was still very intriguing. Especially in the beginning it contained some very cool elements that were a joy to watch and at times had me on the edge of my seat.

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Erm, no I am sorry. I am not going to shut up about my feelings for this show.

I really wanted to like this anime. I’m sure a lot of you reading this review might even be surprised at my reaction. But in the end the series just didn’t work for me. It unfortunately happens at times, and sometimes even with shows that contain elements that normally should have you bursting into joy. Another note of warning I also want to give to you is that this really isn’t a happy show. It can really affect your mood, turning it into something very melancholy. I know some people can be overly sensitive for things like this, and that’s why I’m at least mentioning it. So, in closing I want to say that this is my own opinion on an anime that really has some very high ratings. Don’t take my word for it, but just go and watch it yourself and maybe you will be someone that is going to really enjoy it. I hope not everyone is going to bite my head off after posting this. So with a few drops of sweat on my brow I guess I’m going to press the publish button.

I give Ergo Proxy a 5 out of 10 score.

 

Lethal Weapon Season 1, American tv series (2017)

One has to wonder why things that were already good in the first place, have to be remade, rebooted or whatever else kind of term you want to put on it. Television seems to all of a sudden have a disturbing fascination with creating new shows that are either based on older ones, or Hollywood blockbuster movies. And the track record isn’t very good. Let’s see: Minority Report, cancelled after 1 season. Rush Hour, cancelled after 1 season. Training Day, cancelled after 1 season. Blade, cancelled after….well, you get the idea. Why, oh why do they continue to try? Almost every time fans of the original property don’t accept a new version of their beloved franchise. You see how I did that? I very carefully changed my tune slightly by adding the word almost. Because there are exceptions to the rule. When I first heard that they were going to make a tv version of Lethal Weapon I was horrified. That film, and it’s sequels rank amongst my alltime favorite action movies. I was already condemning the series before I even saw it, thinking this was just going to be another stupid remake attempt prone to become yet another epic fail. But…..I was wrong.

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Come on….you are making it too easy, how can you miss? 

Lethal Weapon the tv series is keeping a lot of the story elements from the original movie intact, while at the same time adding a few new ones. Detective Martin Riggs has become pretty much a loose canon after the death of his wife and his unborn child in a car accident. Riggs grabs the bottle whenever he can, and while on the job he pretty much doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. One day he get’s a new partner one Roger Murtaugh, who is almost the complete opposite of him. Roger has a loving family, that is very supportive of him, and is just a by the book cop. He just came back to the force after having had an open heart surgery. At first the partnership is going terrible, which should not really come as a big surprise. Eventually though, the two cops are gaining a mutual respect for each other, and slowly develop a friendship. Although that friendship definitely has quite a few ups and downs. The first season sees the two handle a lot of different cases throughout it’s 18 episode run. Most of the stories are selfcontained, although there are a couple of developments that carry over from episode to episode.

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I guess some people just desperately want a parking space.

Well, as I said above, I was quite wrong about this one. When the first few clips of the series started showing on YouTube my curiosity got the better of me. My initial skeptical response, soon began to evaporate. It actually looked quite good. And even better, the series began to gather some very positive feedback as well. At present the series has been renewed for a second season of 22 episodes, that has just started airing. So why does this series work, while so many other shows based on existing properties failed? One of the main reasons for this I think is that the series doesn’t try to be an exact copycat. In no way are the actors involved trying to duplicate what Mel Gibson and Danny Glover tried to do. The Riggs from the television series, played by actor Clayne Crawford, is at it’s heart the same character. But Clayne is no Mel Gibson, and it seems both the creators of the series and Crawford himself know that fact. He plays Riggs, but brings his own style to him and it works, well most of the time. At some points in the series Crawford overacts just a little bit, but luckily not to the point where it starts to become annoying.

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Now…I’m sorry, but he does have a point, you are bald. 

The other part of the duo, Roger Murtaugh, is played by Damon Wayans. As with Riggs, the tv version of Murtaugh is also a somewhat different character. He is a little bit more quiet and doesn’t always get as worked up over things as Danny Glover did in the movie version. But for a buddy cop show like this to work, there needs to be chemistry between the two leads. And on that front the show definitely succeeds. We get lots of comedic banter between Riggs and Murtaugh, and that creates some of the best moments in the series. And that is another things the creators seemed to realise. The original movies worked because of the great and memorable characters, and their interaction with each other. And that is also the heart of this show. In between the comedy and action, there are enough moments to further develop the characters with quite a number of heartfelt scenes. Most of the supporting cast also add their own weight to the table.

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No idea what they are staring at, but it appears to be something very cute. 

Worthy of note is Jordana Brewster, who most people should recognise from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the psychiatrist Maureen Cahill, who is assigned to Riggs to help him deal with his inner demons. Some of the sessions between them are very entertaining and give a welcome reprieve from the action. So let’s talk about the action. This being a tv series, it of course doesn’t have as big a budget as a Hollywood blockbuster. Still, they did manage to include quite a number of spectacular stunts, car chases and gun battles that will give all you adrenaline junkies out there enough bang for your bucks. With 18 episodes in this first season are all of them of the same quality? No, but then again I don’t think that anyone can name a tv series that does have this. But honestly I also haven’t seen a single episode where I got bored or that was just horrible in some way.

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Don’t worry I will go call a tow truck.

So, with almost everything that is based on something people are going to compare. That might not be entirely fair, but it’s common practice. Is this series as good as the original movies? No, it is not. But those were very big shoes to fill in the first place. What we do have here, is a very fun series that gives a great homage to the classic movies. Fans of the franchise will find enough things in it to make them smile, unless you are an absolute die hard fan that isn’t open for seeing different actors portray the beloved original characters. Lethal Weapon the tv series has been an enjoyable ride so far, and I hope the second season is going to maintain this level of quality. I for one would love to see this series go on for at least a couple of more seasons. I’m going to leave you with a trailer of the show, that was released just before the first episode started airing. It wil give you a nice impression of the series.

I give Lethal Weapon Season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: Coming up next……

Earlier this week I realised something that actually shocked me a bit. In a little bit less than two months we will be saying goodbye to the year 2017. I don’t know if this is just me, but seriously this year has rushed by so fast! But maybe the reason might simply be it’s because I’m getting older or something like that, but I do wonder where this year has gone off to in such a hurry. As the year 2018 is already slowly beginning to appear on the horizon, I thought it would be nice to let you all know what will be coming up next in these last two months of the year on my blog. I will try to release some diverse content so that hopefully everyone is going to have something to look forward to. So let’s take a look into the crystal ball of the future shall we?

Anime

imageYes anime is definitely still a part of my blog. It has been lacking a bit in the past few weeks, I have to admit, but let me just ease your minds: there is plenty of that still going to be heading your way. Ergo Proxy is a series that I know a lot of you have been waiting to hear my thoughts on. Rest assured the post for that one is coming this month. Girls und Panzer is an unexpected delight. I had skipped over this series quite a number of times in the Crunchyroll line up. But because of a recent post from The Otaku Judge on the Girls und Panzer film, I decided to give it a go. And I’m glad I did. Other anime you can expect reviews for are Deadman WonderlandThe Skycrawlers and Bakemonogatari.

Tv series

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I am really playing catch up to a lot of things at the moment, and as such have fallen  behind on some of my favorite television shows. But that does not mean I don’t occasionally start with something new. Television series based on movies are usually a very bad idea and have an awful track record. Ofcourse there are exceptions to this rule, and the Lethal Weapon tv series certainly is one. Prison Break returned this year to our small screens with a one time 9 episode event series. It used to be one of my alltime favorites, and that’s why I am really looking forward to watching this. Star Trek Discovery is the newest Star Trek tv series, and while I am still debating on whether or not I actually think it’s a good show, it’s certainly not bad either. Besides reviews for these three series, you can also expect posts for Homeland season 6, The Walking Dead season 7, and Fear the Walking Dead season 1.

Korean Dramas

imageKorean dramas are so much fun, but unfortunately as with almost everything I have really started to run behind on these (sorry Kay). The first one is Pinocchio a somewhat older series, but one that I have so far been enjoying for quite a bit. The second is one that has been on my to watch list for ages and that’s Missing 9. The main reason for watching this one is that it includes one of my favorite Korean actors Jung Kyung-ho. The second reason is that it reminds me a lot of Lost, an alltime favorite series of mine, as it tells the story of a group of people that survive a plane crash and get stranded on an island. Both of these are up for reviews in the coming months.

Movies

imageNo big suprise that of course movies will also remain a big part of this blog (at least I hope it won’t be a surprise that is lol). Yesterday I saw the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok. It was a fun filled film, and that one will be up first when it comes to movie reviews. With the releasedate of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, coming ever closer, I am planning on doing a series of posts similar to the Countdown to Halloween feature. And it will be given the name Countdown to The Last Jedi (duhhhhh). I’m not yet going to reveal which movies will be included, but of course they are all going to be science fiction. Other movies you can expect reviews for are John Carpenter’s classic Christine and Justice League. But with movies I expect a few others to be added to this list along the way.

Books

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Ughh, my Good Reads to read list is growing daily, and I probably won’t be able to complete it until I am close to entering a retirement home. I do want to finish a couple of books by the end of the year though, so I still have hope of including at least a few reviews for those as well. I am currently right in the middle of the Sisters of Battle Omnibus written by James Swallow. Part of the Warhammer 40000 universe, it has so far been a very entertaining read. For those who want a bit of nostalgia, I’m also planning a review for the Mini-comic collection of He-man and the Masters of the Universe. The last two books on my list for this year are The official making of Big Trouble in little China and the Star Wars novel Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. This last one especially is one I am really looking forward to as it marks the return of my favorite villain from the Expanded Universe that became canon again (erm, yes I am going to explain that one when I write the review for it).

Boardgames

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Yes, I still play boardgames, even though the last review for one of those dates back to May this year. I hope to publish at least one more review for a boardgame and that is for the incredible Xenoshyft Dreadmire. This is a really fun but incredibly tough deckbuilding game, in which you have to defend your base from a horde of bloodthirsty alien creatures. The artwork for this game is off the scales, and it will be a delight to show it you in all it’s creepy glory.

In closing….

So, that’s pretty much what I have planned for the final two months of this year. In between these posts I also hope to catch up on some tags and awards that I haven’t yet made posts for. As with all things, these are all plans that can be subject to change, as you never know when real life decides to throw a wrench into everything again. But hopefully that won’t happen. In closing I want to thank each and everyone of you who continue to support my blog. I really could not do this without you! So: Thank you all 😀 Let me know in the comments section below if there are any things that you are looking forward to in particular (or if there is nothing on this list that grabs your attention, which is fine as well of course, but I definitely hope that’s not the case lol). Thank you all for reading, see you on the next post!

Stranger Things Season 2, American tv series (2017)

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.

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Who are you gonna call? (Oh come on, what else did you expect me to say about a picture like this?)

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.

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Yes, that really is quite a disturbing sight.

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…..

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Who says girls can’t play videogames is just very stupid.

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.

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There is going to be a season 3? Really?

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.

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Why did you not tell me there would be a third season sooner?

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.

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Let’s have a little light in the darkness. 

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.

 

 

Special Features presents: First full length The Punisher tv series trailer

Netflix has been expanding their list of Marvel tv series quite steadily. It all started with Daredevil back in 2015, and since then they have rounded out their universe with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the most recent one The Defenders. In season 2 of Daredevil a character was introduced that made an enormous impression on pretty much everyone. That character was Frank Castle aka The Punisher. Played by Jon Bernthal, who most people probably recognise as Shane from the Walking Dead, he single handedly created the best live action Punisher to date. It was pretty much inevitable that he would get his own series. In fact there were so many people that wanted this to happen, that it would have been weird if they would not have listened to the fans.

And listen they did as the first season of The Punisher will be making it’s debut later this year. Today the first full length trailer for the series was released, and I can honestly say that I was completely blown away by this. In fact I dare say that this is without a doubt the best trailer that I have seen for the entire year. The trailer is accompanied by the terrific song One by Metallica, and to say more about it is to spoil your fun. I have included the trailer for your viewing pleasure down below. Enjoy it, and please let me know what you think about it in the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts about this one.

The Expanse season 1, American/Canadian tv series (2015)

There was a time when science fiction on television was very popular, and there were a lot of tv series to choose from. Babylon 5, Stargate Sg-1, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Andromeda, are just a few examples of these shows that offered truly amazing future visions. But it seems that television these days had it’s focus on different things, and it is somewhat harder for sci-fi fans to get their fix. A few years ago I came across a novel called Leviathan Wakes written by James S.A. Correy. It was the start of a fantastic new science fiction saga called the Expanse, and has since then been followed up by 4 other books and a couple of novellas. (You can find a review for the second part in the series right here). To my absolute delight I learned that the novels now have been turned into a television series, but at the same time it filled me with dread. Turning books into movies or tv shows is always a risky business. So the question is: is the Expanse tv series any good? Well I can answer with a resounding: Hell yeah it is!

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Dude, seriously you need a haircut.

The Expanse takes place roughly 200 years into the future. The solar system is fully colonised and there are three major factions, Earth,Mars and the Belt, that have an uneasy peace between them. On a space station in the Asteroid Belt, police detective Miller is assigned a case to find a missing daughter of a wealthy businessman. Elsewhere, James Holden, the executive officer of the icehauler Canterbury is involved in a tragic incident. It soon becomes apparent that this incident is one of the first steps to destabilize the three factions and bring them to an all out war. But how exactly does the missing daughter fit into all this? Eventually the paths of Miller and Holden come together and they are about to uncover a very sinister conspiracy. A conspiracy that threatens the entire human race…..

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Man, lighten up. You are in a truly terrific show. At least put on a smile.

I’m going to make a pretty bold statement here by saying that the Expanse is one of the best science fiction series that I have seen in years. I was already a huge fan of the novels, and I can only say that this series really respects it’s source material. This first season of 10 episodes follows the story of the first part of Leviathan Wakes. One of the strongest points of this show is the story and the many different layers it contains. It has elements of politics, conspiracies, spacebattles and even horror all blended together in a truly amazing and wonderful script. It certainly isn’t a tale that was put together overnight, but really is very well written and has many surprises in store that will both delight and shock you. The visuals are also outstanding, both in terms of special effects, but also in costumes and setsdesigns. Everything looks really convincing, and this all adds to creating a very believable science fiction setting.

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Well, I did say that this series also contained some horror elements right?

But what is a world without memorable characters, and the Expanse also succeeds in creating those. Detective Miller played by veteran actor Thomas Jane, can almost be described as a kind of film noir character you would come across in old black and white movies. I love the fact that Miller also definitely has his flaws, and this creates a person that is very human and who you can relate to. The other main character, James Holden, who is portrayed by actor Steven Strait, is someone who tries to do the right thing, but eventually gets in way over his head because of this. It creates some great scenes between him and his crew, who don’t always agree with his decisions. There are also a lot of other supporting characters, and it would go too far to describe them all in this review. Suffice it to say though, that the cast for this show is truly wonderful and another very good reason to start watching this.

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Yep, what would the human race be without some big guns. 

Are there also negative things to mention? Well, honestly I have been wracking my brain for an answer to that question, but I would be hardpressed to find them. If I were to name one, it might be that the story is pretty complex and certainly not always the easiest to follow. This is not one of those shows you can watch while also texting with your best friend. But I never do that anyway, so I don’t really see this as a weak point. It is very nice to finally have a great science fiction series back on the small screen. The third season for this show was just announced, so there is luckily plenty more to come. For everyone that loves intelligent science fiction storytelling, I can’t recommend this series enough. And while you are at it, you might also want to try the novels that this show is based on. I’m almost certain that you will not be disappointed by this, but hey I could be wrong of course.

I give The Expanse season 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

 

 

 

Bad Guys, Korean Drama Series (2014)

I love watching Korean dramaseries, but for some reason I am always running behind with reviews for these. It usually takes me a bit of time to finish them too, and that is not because I don’t enjoy them. On the contrary I absolutely love them, but as always there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only watch one thing at a time. For people who might be unfamiliair with Korean dramas let me give a small introduction for you. (I have done this before so feel free to skip this part and continue to read the next paragraph). Still here? Okay then. Korean dramaseries are tv series that usually contain around 20 episodes and cover a wide range of topics. Romance, historical period pieces, crime, even science fiction is entering the range of titles on offer. The great thing is that these are selfcontained stories, so there is never the risk of a series getting cancelled and leaving unfinished threads. Although there are a few exceptions of dramas getting a second season if it is succesful. One of these is the 2014 crimedrama Bad Guys.

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Well, I did warn you that this series could get bloody right?

In Bad Guys we meet up with detective Oh Gu-tak who has a nickname: Mad Dog. He certainly seems to live up to his reputation as he doesn’t shy away from using pretty excessive measures to catch criminals. But you can’t really blame him as years back his only daughter was murdered by a brutal serial killer. Since then he has been living with guilt and certainly isn’t the same man that he used to be. When a series of new murders take place in his district, Oh Gu-tak comes up with an unorthodox plan to capture the killer. He enlists the help of three dangerous criminals that are currently residing in prison. One is a psychopath and serial killer himself, the other a former mob boss, and the final member of Oh Gu-tak’s new crimefighting squad is a hired hit-man that never made a mistake, but eventually turned himself in. The person who eventually ends up catching the criminal, will get his sentence reduced. Things are not as easy as it seems though. Everyone has a very hard time getting along, but there also seems to be a tie that connects these four people together. A tie rooted in a very dark past and that might have very dire consequences…..

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He did not get the nickname Mad Dog for nothing.

This crimedrama is a very dark and bloody show, and honestly that is how I like them. Where the series at first starts off as a show that seems to focus itself on catching a different criminal in each episode, we soon get a storyline that branches out and carries on throughout the course of the series. The plot is very clever and it’s nice to continually try to find new pieces of the story and figure out what is going on.  It also contains quite a bit of action, featuring carchases and impressive fight scenes that have a blockbuster movie quality to them. This being a crime story it contains some very dark material at times, and there are a few brutal scenes, but it never goes too far or becomes to explicit to watch.

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I am not kidding, this guy wears this expression the entire series. Even his hair seems to agree with him.

The real highlight of this show however are the actors. The level of performances that are given in this show are really off the charts, and truly worth the watch. Detective Oh Gu-tak is played by Kim Sang-joong and he is very impressive to say the least. This is the first time I have seem him in a show or movie, but the way he portrays this quite frankly frightening character is astonishing. His grief and trauma over the death of his daughter really come to the fore in his performance and makes him so fascinating to watch. Ma Dong-seok who people might recognise from Train to Busan, plays the former mobster Pak Un-seol. His character provides some of the much needed comic relief in what is otherwise a very dark series. He gives another solid performance and certainly became one of my favorite characters of the show.

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You would almost think that this guy is a vampire…..

The most human character and the one with the highest level of charisma is the hired hit-man Jung Tae-soo. He is pretty much the only one that really struggles with the deeds that he has done, and his background story is the one that got to me the most. Ofcourse I am not going to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty touching. The last member of the band of misfits is psychopath Lee Jung-moon, played by Park Hae-jin. Quite frankly this guy gave me the creeps. His continually stoic expression throughout the series seriously was unnerving, but it was a terrific and very chilling role. We also have a female police detective called Yoo Mi-young played by Kang Ye-won. Quite frankly she is the only one that I did not really like in this series. I found her character to be pretty boring and not really fitting the rest of the high caliber acting that was done in this series.

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This is the Korean version of Spanish bullfighting.

This 11 episode series was a delight to watch. With the exception of a few moments in later episodes, this was a well paced series that had a really interesting plot, solid performances and a great atmosphere. Bad Guys is getting a second season, but sadly with an entirely different cast of characters. Which I think is a real shame as the cast for this show was simply put amazing. If you like crime dramas or serial killer stories and have yet to experience your first Korean dramaseries, this might be your perfect way to start. If you are looking for a way to watch this drama legally and for free you can check out the website Viki. This series together with scores of others can be found there in high quality, and there is a drama on that site for everyone.

I give Bad Guys a 8 out of 10 score.

Corpse Princess, Anime tv series (2008/2009)

There is this old saying that there is one thing that is certain in life: death and taxes. While I don’t really care about taxes, I do care about not dying any time soon. I don’t consider myself to be very old yet (although some people might argue with that), but if I were to die now, I would certainly have a few regrets. There are still a lot of things that are on my bucket list and that I haven’t yet been able to do. Most of these are because of not having enough time, others are simply because I haven’t yet gathered up enough courage to do some of those things. And ofcourse I am being really cryptic here, but hey a guy has got to have a couple of secrets in his life right? Why all this talk about death in this post? Could I not find something more cheerful to talk to you about? Well I probably could have, but death and regret has everything to do with Corpse Princess, the Animeseries I am about to review.

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The new student at school really was not working out.

Corpse Princess, or Shikabane Hime as it is also known, is a 25 episode horror/action anime series. Makina Hoshimura was just a normal girl until she and her family were brutally murdered. But Makina did not die. At least not in the normal way that everyone is used to. No, she returned as a living Shikabane Hime (a Corpse Princess) and has one sole mission on her mind: to avenge the death of her family. In this series when a person dies but still has intense regrets, he or she returns as a Shikabane. The Shikabane at first look like the normal persons they were in real life, but eventually turn into horrible monsters that prey on the living. The Kougon Cult has been created to protect normal humans from these horrible creatures, using the Shikabane Hime as their weapons. After a Shikabane Hime has killed exactly 108 Shikabane, they are granted peace and allowed to enter heaven. Makina, armed with dual Mac-11 submachine guns, and assisted by Keisei Tagami a buddhist monk from the Kougon Cult, soon sets out on the path for revenge. But it will not be an easy task, especially since the Shikabane group known as The Seven Stars have a horrible plan in store for humanity. A plan that may very well end every single living human being…

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Well, I did mention there were monsters in this anime right? 

Corpse Princess was both a pleasant and a very unpleasant surprise. Now, I know this sounds very vague, but bear with me as I will explain soon enough. The thing that surprised me the most in this series was the storyline. I had expected this to be a pretty generic action packed horror series, but it was actually the story itself that I found to be the highlight. This anime has a lot of underlying subplots and a rich and well thought out worldbuilding concept, that I haven’t seen in quite a while. The Kougon Cult and their many rules and regulations slowly show their secrets throughout the episodes, and it was a delight and sometimes shock to discover them. This anime first starts off with Makina encountering the monster of the week, and dealing with it, but eventually turns into a rich and powerful storyline that gets better with every episode. This being a horrorseries, there are certainly enough gory moments in it that might turn off some viewers, though it never became the main focus of the show.

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Yes, I know this stance looks incredibly cool. 

The anime also has a pretty large cast of characters. Throughout the series more and more are added, and at times it became hard to keep track of everyone. Makina, being the main character, certainly was one of the best attractions the series had on offer. She is just seriously bad ass, can take a hell of a beating, but also has a humanity to her that is hardly found in someone who is, well, basically dead. Keisei the contracted monk assigned to Makina, is a pretty funny character at times. While he can certainly hold his own in a fight, he also has a pretty lecherous side to him, that provided some great comic relief. Another character that becomes very important in the series is a young boy who Keisei took in once as an orphan, called Ouri Kagami. He inadvertently stumbles across Makina one night, and soon becomes involved in the daily struggles that she faces. On the villain side there is a great character called Akasha Shishido, but to actually tell who he is, would spoil things for you. Suffice it to say that although he is evil, you really feel for him as well, and that’s what made him so fascinating.

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Some people take the phrase “I’ve got my eyes on you” a bit to literally.

Corpse Princess certainly also had a few fanservice moments. There were a couple of girls that had breast sizes that seemed to defy the rules of basic anatomy, but it luckily never became as bad as for instance in the anime Highschool of the Dead. Now in the beginning of my review I also told of an unpleasant surprise and that was unfortunately the final episode of this anime. Seriously, what were they thinking? It just….ends. There is no resolution, it just ends in the middle of a fight, and the viewers are left to wonder how it will turn out. Now, after having invested time in a series that ran for 25 episodes I certainly felt cheated. As such, it also becomes hard to recommend a series in this way. It definitely was a terrific watch, with plenty of action, horror and a great story. But without a real resolution to things, you do wonder what the point is in watching this. My score for this just had to reflect that. If the final episode had handled things better, I would have graded this much higher. A real shame, but sometimes in life you are just left with regrets. Now….where did I hear that before?

I give Corpse Princess a 7 out of 10 score.