Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – “Where’s Josh’s Friend?” Review

I got into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hella late. In fact, I don’t even know what took me so long. After all, I’d loved Rachel Bloom’s previous musical work for a while. Her whole talented escapades and satirical videos are iconic and to see them unleashed in television glory is relentless glee all the time. The songs are on point, the dark humour great, and the situations strangely human. Now Season 2 is unleashed upon us and the excitement is paramount.

For those who haven’t watched Season 1, here is a quick re-cap: Rebecca was working hard at a New York job, making though but it made her blue. One day she was crying a lot, so she decided to move to West Corvina California, brand new pals and new career. Well, it happens to be where Josh lives but that’s not why she’s here…. Basically, she’s a crazy ex-girlfriend….

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At the end of Season 1, Josh and Rebecca had hooked up, finally, as he left Valencia at his sister’s wedding. With Rebecca swiftly moving on from Greg, whose left comatose stating his love for her. However, whilst Becks may be with the one she has pined after for so long, she lets slip that she moved to West Corvina to Josh which has  scared him completely. Unfortunately for Rebecca, her confident Paula is trying to move on from the craziness whilst Greg has gone AWOL. With Josh using her for sex and living quarters, Rebecca struggles to navigate this circumstances where she is seemingly alone.

The opening episode of Season 2 is not a bad episode but it doesn’t rank highly in the list of superb outings for Rebecca and chorus. The downfalls of the opening episode isn’t the fault of the talent at hand, it’s because there is a clear tonal shift. Why having superb elements, it’s tricky to get your head around a darker new series where everything is seemingly broken. There is an unearthing of everything nefarious with following our heroine down a seedy path that is summed up well with Greg’s Dad who states “You mess up people’s lives and then pass it off as quirky.”

The self-awareness of the show is excellent but it does mean the ground we tread is unfamiliar. I’m not saying this as a critique, quite the opposite, it’s through this brilliance that the show can shoot of into something stellar. I am just saying that you’ll leave feeling as wounded as all our characters because you can no longer brush off Rebecca’s calamity as New Girl quirkiness. And in that kernel, its Love Kernel, lies a strong season that will root inside of you.

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This all being said, Where’s Josh’s Friend has defiant moments of bonkers and crazy to add hilarity to the realistic proceedings. In fact, there are several moments where I – quote unquote – lost my shit including a broom replacing a character, the whole song Love Kernels, and Emory’s sweater.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back with new odds and a new character setting. How it choses to develop after this episode will defy the show forever. But one has hope that, whilst unusual and bleak in opening, the series will develop in a glorious, unbridled way.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend appears on Netflix every week.

Max Payne: Retribution – Trailer Announcement

Hollywood tried to make a film based on the Max Payne game series once. It was a disaster. And for a while, it looked like we might not get another movie starring the hardened anti-hero, but never underestimate the power of dedicated fans, as ambitious director Leroy Kincaide debuts the trailer for his new fan film this Sunday.

Kincaide was keen to retain the essence of the popular video games, but also drew inspiration from action films like The Equalizer and the modern classic John Wick (which, funnily enough, has a nightclub sequence very similar to one in Max Payne 3). The film will follow the characters, world and storylines of the first two games, whilst also taking it’s own original approach to the material, in a film that might finally give gamers the satisfaction that Hollywood failed to give them.

Kincaide said of the film: “It feels so great to see the project finally come to life, but also being able to contribute to the legacy that is Max Payne. Being such a huge part of my teenage years it gives me great pleasure to still see so many fans support the games and project. I want to also give huge thanks to Sam Lake and Remedy Entertainment for bringing such a legendary game into our lives- it really has been one of the main reasons I want to pursue my career as a Film Director.”

Production started in 2014, when Kincaide and producer Chloe Chudasama raised £1500 via Indiegogo, and their cast and crew have come from all over the country to shoot this ambitious project, including an action sequence that took 20 hours in total. They’ve found support from the likes of Kathy Tong, who was the photographic model for Mona Sax in Max Payne 2, and the Payne Reactor, the Rockstar supported Max Payne fan club. They said of the film: “The release of the trailer for MAX PAYNE RETRIBUTION is a turning point in Max Payne history. A valuable addition to the long running legacy, the cast and crew of RETRIBUTION are clearly aiming to release a cinematic noir experience like no other fan movie has done so before. ”  

Max Payne Retribution is an exciting prospect that you can finally see the trailer for on October 30th.

Max Payne Retribution is out 2017! 

Looking Back…Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

From the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and that little fellow who played the trumpet in the Lurpak advert, comes Shaun the Sheep Movie. Yes Aardman, the clay-mation wizards are back to bring an old favourite to the big screen. Shaun, that most lovable of sheep has leaped from TV for his first solo film outing.

Similar to Wallace and Gromit, in its progression from short to feature, the studio have managed to adapt a much loved character to a larger audience, while staying true to its original tone. Also, like the studios previous works, Shaun is a brilliantly entertaining and loveable film.

When one of Shaun’s schemes sends the farmer off to The Big City it is up to Shaun, Blitzer and the flock to go and rescue him. A feet that is made all the more complicated by the fact the the farmer has lost his memory and is now, thanks to his sheering skills, a sought after hairdresser.

It has been a long journey for Shaun and his friends to make it to the big screen. Shaun first appeared in the Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave. Thanks to the short’s popularity, Shaun soon starred in his own spin-off show with his show even spawning another spin-off Timmy Time. It’s no surprise that Shaun and his team got their own feature.

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The film even gifts our beloved farm yard animals with a rich back-story that fits into the character, the shows and now the film exceedingly well. Shaun, Blitzer and the farmer once lived where life was not always routine and trickery on the farm. Before becoming the cynical character we have known from the show the young farmer once treated his animals as family. It is this memory of a loving father figure that prompts Shaun to travel to The Big City to retrieve his lost friend. With this back story, the film has a new tone and allows it to flow from the small screen to the big one, jumping right into the plot with great pace that keeps the audience entranced.

The biggest obstacle that Aardman faced with the film is the characters lack of speech. With the exception of a few moans and grunts, none of the characters in the film talk. You have to wonder how you can make a feature length film with mute characters but this is a fact that audiences will forget five minutes into the film. The studio are able to convey story, character and emotions through visuals as well as some unusual uses of music and sound. The absence of dialogue in no way hinders the film, which Aardman have not just overcome but made part of Shaun’s trademark.

The studio have always had a direct link to audiences’ funny bones and this film is no exception. Shaun The Sheep Movie is made with the same wit and dry sense of humour that Aardman are famed for. With the films lack of dialogue, physical humour is used throughout as well as slapstick, innuendo and the occasional ‘in joke’ that older audiences will appreciate.

Yet this is not a film of just humour and laughs. The film makers have injected real warmth and heart into the story. The scene of Shaun’s first ill fated reunion with the amnesia suffering farmer will break audiences hearts. Also, the scene where Shaun and his flock baa-, sing and “bleat box” to an upset baby Timmy is by far the film’s most tender moment. The film has it all and really can speak to audiences of all ages.

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Shaun, as with the majority of Aardmans feature length work, (and frankly their best) is made with their distinctive claymation stop-motion animation. All the usual characteristics of their work are here including the occasional animators’ fingerprints. The main difference from the show to screen is the boundaries the film makers have pushed with Shaun. The sheer number of characters all interacting with in the city scape is a triumph for the studio and their work.

Alongside the films masterful character animation is the brilliantly crafted sets. For Wallace and Gromit, Aardman had to create an idyllic village setting. For Chicken Run the great British countryside and for Pirates! the 19th century high seas. Here, Aardman faced the challenge of a Metropolis setting. With traffic, highways and a range of characters the studio are pushing themselves with every project they do. The result is bustling and impressive visuals.

The animators have layered the film with such rich detail that with each viewing you are bound to notice things that escaped you previously. From the added nods to British culture, such as the Blue Peter badge on Shaun’s backpack to the moment a cow is sent flying over the moon, (in this case a pub sign). Aardman have created a world that is full of hidden treasures.

Another triumph for the great British claymation studio. Able to create a great story with lovable characters despite the films lack of dialogue as well as being funny and cute in the extreme, Shaun the Sheep Movie is how you transfer a show from the box to the screen.

Now, bring on a Timmy Time film, (please, I love him) And Shaun the Sheep 2! 

Shaun the Sheep – Sequel Announced!

As if the folks at Aardman Animations were not busy enough putting their latest feature Early Man in to production. Yet this week the studio, alongside StudioCanal, announced that Shaun the Sheep Movie will get a sequel that begins pre-production in January.

Shaun’s journey to the big screen was a long time in the making. Seeing as Shaun was a side character in a Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave. He proved so popular he gained his own show alongside his flock living on Mossy Bottom farm. With the success of the show Aardman decided to give Shaun his own feature film with 2015’s Shaun the Sheep Movie.
The film took Shaun and his friends on a journey to the big city to find the farmer who lost his memory. It took all the charm and with of the show but expanded to a feature project and the final result was brilliant.
As yet there are no plot details accept that the film will follow Shaun and the gang as the go on a massive fun filled adventure. Richard Starzak returns as director of the film, this time solo without Mark Burton. Also returning is producer Paul Kewley. With the same behind the scenes talent onboard the project is a lot to look forward to.
And to remind yourself of how awesome the first film was just read our review here.

Assassin’s Creed – “Building the World” featurette

Video game adaptations have a history of being total disasters; popular franchises such as Street Fighter, Max Payne, and the Super Mario Brothers have been butchered on the big screen, amongst many others. It’s fair to say that almost every time a video game movie is announced, there’s a resounding groan from every gamer around who fears for the cinematic depiction of their favourite game, but from what we’ve seen so far, Assassin’s Creed might break the mould.

When Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins’ society. In this featurette, Fassbender and director Justin Kurzel discuss the ambitious nature of the film, talking about how they tried to create a visceral experience through their world building.

Assassin’s Creed looks to be a stylish, thrilling film that might just be one of the best video game films of all time, though frankly, that’s not exactly a high bar.

Assassin’s Creed is out January 2017 

The Walking Dead – The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be Review (Spoilers!)

Fans of The Walking Dead were shook back in April when the show’s sixth season closed with an unbearable cliffhanger. Now, the show is back, and it’s more brutal and gory than ever, and we finally know who met the end of Negan’s bat.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t handled very well at all.

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But ignoring that for a second, just about every other thing about this episode is downright perfect; the opening scene is electrifying. A shaken Rick Grimes on his knees, telling Negan “I’m gonna kill you” and Negan laughing it off. Already, before the episode has started, before we know who’s dead or what’s going to happen, the season is off to a chilling start. From there on, the episode only gets better. It’s unrelenting, throwing both Rick and the audience into one of the most harrowing and terrifying scenarios yet. We all know full well that Rick isn’t gonna die, yet it seems so likely as Negan throws him out into a crowd of Walkers. We should know better by now, but the editing, music and cinematography keeps us on the edge of our seat as Rick tries to survive, both physically and emotionally. Negan truly beats Rick to his knees psychologically, and the ordeal is so intense.

With only one episode under his belt, Negan is already a contender for one of the greatest TV villains of all time. He is vicious, cold, calculating and a totally irredeemable bastard, but it’s almost impossible not to like him. Like all the best villains, his evil nature is deliriously enjoyable, even if you hate him for everything that he’s doing. He’s already the best villain the show has ever had, which isn’t easy when facing up to The Governor and cannibal Gareth, who only served a three episode run but still managed to be an incredible villain. It’s just a shame that this show never gets nominated for Emmys because Jeffrey Dean Morgan deserves like seven of them for this episode alone. And as always, Andrew Lincoln is just as electrifying. These two actors were born to share the screen.

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Now, it’s about time we get to the meat of this episode, the one thing that’s been our mind since April: Who does Negan kill? In the comics, it was our faithful Glenn Rhee, but there was a little uncertainty about whether the show would follow the same path. For a second, it looked like it wouldn’t; the man on the receiving end of Lucille was revealed to be Abraham Ford, and it was a crushing blow. Now I predicted Abraham would be the one to die months ago, and was rather sad since he was my favourite character, but then, after an outburst from Daryl, Negan kills Glenn too. This is where I take issue with the scene. The writers put themselves in a tight spot when it came to this twist; they knew that fans would be annoyed if they didn’t follow the comic storyline, but they also knew it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking for Glenn to die because everybody knows by now that he dies in the comic. That interfered with the cliffhanger of season six, that was purposely draped in mystery, so Abraham’s death was used to fulfill that problem.

This probably doesn’t sound like an issue with the way I’m describing it, so let me bring up another TV show that did the same thing: How I Met Your Mother (spoilers – if you haven’t seen the ending of this show). So for eight seasons, Ted tells his kids the story of how he met their mother, and along the way, his on and off relationship with Robin. In season nine, they finally introduced the mother, only to then kill her off, and have Ted go back to Robin. This felt like the mother was introduced simply to fulfil the promise made by the show’s title and previous eight seasons, so that technically, you did meet the mother and you can’t say the show didn’t give you that, and then they threw it away for the easy route of having him end up with Robin.

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This is how it feels in The Walking Dead; Abraham’s death (bearing in my mind actually was a really great character) was really nothing more than a cheap distraction, a way of closing the cliffhanger and then carrying on with the story they wanted. It’s not like I can’t see why they did it, but they really wrote themselves into a corner with that cliffhangers, and as a result, the pay off is a huge waste, because once Glenn gets hit with that bat, the impact of Abraham’s death is gone, and then Glenn’s death doesn’t feel all that impactful either, even when his eye is popping out of his skull and he utters his last words to Maggie. I might be alone on that whole ordeal, but really they should’ve killed Glenn last season, when we thought he got ripped apart by Walkers and it was actually ridiculously harrowing and brutal. Saying all that though, the make up team deserve an Emmy for their work in this episode, for Glenn’s terrifying disfigured face, and we must say a sad farewell to Steven Yeun and Michael Cudlitz. Yeun was a regular since season one, and a huge fan favourite. His performances on the show were consistently brilliant, and he contributed a lot to making Glenn the captivating character that he was. Cudlitz wasn’t around as long, but he most definitely made his mark on the show with his badass moments and hilarious Abraham-isms (“Mother dick, bitch nuts, loose ends make my ass itch” etc.).

So whilst it’s core scene may have been a let down, the rest of this episode was utter perfection, further proof that the show is nothing close to the garbage fire some would make it out to be. Let’s hope the rest of Season 7 lives up to this unbearable opener.

The Walking Dead shuffles on Fox this Autumn