Ranking American Horror Storys’ season so far

American Horror Story season 4, Freak show just ended a few days ago and the show has been one of the most widely watched and well received dramas in recent years, I’ve been watching since season one, avidly I suppose, though I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. Anyway I wanted to rank the seasons thus far

1) Murder House

One of the more memorable seasons, Murder House was a great introduction to the style and tone of the show, it still has some of the most disturbing and creepy scenes/themes in the show to date. The characters were great and the breaking apart of the family dynamic in the season was compelling to watch, the feeling that everything was inevitable at the end was a bit predictable but it was still good watch. Plus that cast, all seasons have great casts but Murder House had a great cast list.

2) Coven

One of the wackier seasons so far but probably the most entertaining, I loved the story for Coven, using real people from history as characters and the premise of young witches joining and competing in a coven was a great idea. Also featured some of the best character feuds and playing off each of other in Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates, as well as Bassett – Lange as leaders of opposing covens. The writing was great, Coven has some of the funniest dialogues and best character interaction in the series, okay the ending was ridiculous but one of the most entertaining and more well done conclusions to a season from the show in my opinion.

3) Asylum 

Asylum was such a great idea for Horror Story on a basic level, an insane asylum, it sort of writes the stories itself in terms of a horror show but Asylum suffered from a lack of direction, a shoddy and inconclusive ending and random elements thrown in here and there (aliens?) for no apparent reason. You can either praise or berate this side of American Horror Story in general, for being unashamedly wacky and creative, or for being random and intermittent with its’ ideas but for Asylum it didn’t really work. That being said, Asylum did have the great Lily Rabe and her stint in the season as the devil incarnate was fantastic and proved for some great episoes, Zachary Quinto was also great as a sinister, sadistic killer.

4) Freak Show

Freak show, the most recent season just lacked that sense of terror and the initial tension with what we thought was the main villain in Twisty quickly faded the way, the premise is interesting the season felt a bit directionless and characters actions felt inconsequential. But it wasn’t all bad Jessica Lange again stole the show and was great throughout the season and Dandy was a joy to watch (as annoying as he was) for just being so over the top, pretty spirited performance from Finn Wittrock as Dandy.

And there you have it, my ranking of AHS so far, season 5 will hopefully be a return to the shows’ better season and it’ll be interesting to see how the show fares without the central figure of Jessica Lange.

We need to talk about Johnny Depp

Ah Johnny Depp, one of the most accomplished, beloved and mostly respected actors out there with a long, colourful acting career, but now more so than ever, he remains a bit of a conundrum, he’s a fantastic actor but can’t seem to catch a break.

Catch a break in the sense that he seems to either be type cast or simply chooses bad films to star in, though said films are often quite a lot of fun The Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows and now the recently panned Mortdecai. If I had to sum up Depps’ last 5 years or so in one word, that word would be “Well…”, I just find it bizarre for such a great actor to have been in such widely panned and commercially unsuccessful films.

I am deliberately not pointing to Depp (because I think he’s awesome) for his recent movie flops but I don’t think it’s fair to singularly point to him as the reason. I get that for one Depp isn’t to everyones’ tastes and while he’s a fantastic character actor, some people just don’t find him entertaining which is fair enough but part of the blame has to go to the filmmakers themselves. Depp could as enthusiastic and expressive as he wanted to be but with a poor script, wooden characters and so on, the film simply wouldn’t do well, as was with the case with The Lone Ranger in my opinion, Depp was great in the role but the film, not so much.

Of course for any great film, you need a nice marriage of the two, the cast fitting into their roles well (which Depp pretty much always does) and the film being up to par in being well structured. I think it’s just a shame that the blame seems to be being put on Depp more specifically recently, sure he chooses the roles he does and all but he can’t carry the weight of a whole film, he is a star name that can bring audiences that may be part of the problem. Maybe it’s the level of expectation from audiences on one side, people being drawn to see a fun looking movie because of Depp may be left a bit cold if the rest of the film isn’t up to scratch, that and perhaps audiences have a bit of dare I say, Depp fatigue.

But getting tired of Johnny Depp? Surely not! Alright it’s possible but still, this recent lull in Depps’ career is hopefully temporary and with a few great film choices, I’m sure he can get back to the ‘top’ as it were, he doesn’t have to ditch his quirky characters or anything drastic. But he could mix up his roles a bit more and importantly just choose better films because it is Depp after all, he’s such a talented and devoted actor that I personally want to see him always be successful, that may not always work out for him but I think he deserves it.

2015, year of the franchise

A wise man once said that 2014 was the year of the geek, I am that man. And 2015 looks set to be the year of the franchise, we’ll be seeing 5 new additions to franchises that are at least 20 years old or older this year. In James Bond, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Terminator and Mission Impossible.

While there are a host of other brand new films of various types, 2015 is one of the biggest for existing franchises in recent memory. You could attribute this to a recent trend in Hollywood of reviving old franchises, re-booting them or remaking them completely for TV e.g. Scream, Evil Dead, it’s interesting to see some old and worldwide known franchises alive and well. And it just goes to show the power of familiarity with relation to franchises and audience expectations, hell people would go see another Indiana Jones if it was done well enough or even if it was bad, people would see it anyway.

Does so many studios greenlighting new movies in long running franchises mean that movie going audiences are wary or not fond of new ideas and new films? Not exactly, it just means that people love seeing what they’re familiar with, their favourite characters, settings and worlds and studios are aware of that. That and there’s some serious money to make off of long running franchises, TV show tie ins, merchandise, clothes, toys etc.

If you had to summarise the 2010s’ in films so far, it would be the decade of re-makes and re-boots for sure and in an age of sequels, increasingly frequent re-makes of films, the franchise reigns king and so do comic book movies which are seriously raking in the cash these days. And the trend seems to be set to continue, 2016 will have a plethora of comic book movies and some continuations in existing franchises, Captain America, X-Men, as well as some new ones established in Suicide Squad, Batman Vs Superman.

Trailers this week: Straight Outta Compton, Hitman Agent 47, Insurgent

So the trailer for Straight Outta Compton, from Universal Pictures dropped yesterday, charting the origins, rise and popularity of the hip hop group NWA in what many see as the golden age of Hip Hop in the 80s. The members of the NWA included Ice Cube, Dr Yella, Eazy E, MC Ren and Dr Dre, some of whom are hugely respected and influential members of hip hop even today, the film as you can see from the trailer is fairly action packed.

Set against the backdrop of a turbulent, angry L.A in the mid 80s’, awash with the L.A. riots and un-easy tension between some of the populace and the police. I have to say it actually looks pretty good, with Dr Dre and Ice Cube themselves having worked on the film, we should get an interesting insight into the origins of the NWA and see things from the perspective of the group. A group known for its’ controversial lyrics and open hatred of the police, it’s an interesting time for this film to be coming out with so much tension and controversy with civilians and the police in recent months in America.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say the NWA were influential for rap and the 80s’ in general was a hugely iconic and memorable era for music, rap especially, so a film looking back at that pivotal time in the history of hip hop should be pretty cool.

Straight Outta Compton is set for release on the 1st of August.

The Hitman Agent 47 trailer also dropped recently, another imagining of the Hitman game franchise on the big screen, starring Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware.

Everyones’ favourite bald headed, barcoded assassin is back and looking slick and cold as usual, the film looks very action packed as is to be expected and Rupert Friend seems to have nailed Agent 47s’ tone and speech and he wields dual desert eagles in one scene, the image that has come to be associated with Agent 47. Also cool was seeing the Agent disguise as one of the prison guards after he broke out of his holding cell, as cool as all the fighting and shootouts are, being an assassin does require stealth, intelligence and an occasional disguise as you’ll know if you’ve played Hitman. But that being said, Rupert Friends’ Agent 47 doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with stealth and the action set pieces in the trailer look quite lively.

The synopsis details Agent 47, identified by the two digits on the barcode on his neck – going on a mission to stop a corporation from exploiting the technology it used to engineer him, to go on to make an army of super killers, meanwhile Zachary Quintos’ character seems set on stopping him.

The trailer ends with a pretty insane crashing a helicopter into a skyscraper scene and yeah, the film looks pretty cool and may be one of the better action films out this year.

Set for release on the 28th of August.

Pitch Perfect 2 also dropped a trailer this week, follow up to the first successful musical comedy/drama, following an aspiring group of female performers aiming to be singing champions. Pitch Perfect was something of a runaway hit and it’s sort of like a cool, un-cheesy High School Musical but in college and with more believable characters, anyway the sequel looks fairly entertaining so far

As the Bellas are together and set to take on more talented singing groups to try and become world champion, starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow and set for release on the 15th of May.

Also out recently was a new trailer for Insurgent, sequel to Divergent in the Divergent trilogy, featuring Tris continuing to conquer her fear and become a symbol of hope and freedom, as she and Four stay on the run from Jeanine Matthews, who is hunting them down as they’re now Divergents (not belonging to any faction).

The film looks great visually and already quite a bit better than Divergent in my opinion as Tris will uncover more secrets about the seemingly perfect society she lives in and faces new, dangerous challenges along the way. I’ve also not read the books in any real capacity, I have Divergent but not the other 2, so I like the idea of going into the next 2 films not knowing what happens.

Insurgent is released on the 20th of March.

Spiderman coming back to Marvel

Just swingin into the MCU

 

*Round of applause* We did it people… well we didn’t really do anything apart from willing it to happen but wow it’s just happened, Spiderman is back for Marvel in a deal struck between Sony Pictures and Marvel, Sony keeps the rights to the character but will loan him out to Marvel. Which of course means he’s open to appearing in the MCU, which is great news for Marvel fans everywhere with one of its’ most prominent and popular characters now free to appear in some of its’ movies.

Another thing interesting to note is that the deal could provide a way for MCU characters to star in future Spiderman films as well, something potentially very cool.

Also Andrew Garfield has been confirmed to not be reprising his rather good portrayal as Spidey/Peter Parker which is a shame but all the same this news is pretty huge, something many people thought wouldn’t happen for a while but it has finally. In immediate effect of this, Spiderman can star in Captain America 3: Civil War, playing a role he was pretty key in, in the comics and further on, maybe Marvel try and feature him in another movie of theirs? And now will Sony move on with their current Spiderman established universe with a different actor playing Peter Parker? Rather than giving us all a new origin story that we don’t really need.

So many questions and so many further questions, who will play Spidey in said Marvel cameo, will that same actor play Spidey in Captain America 3 and the next Spiderman film (slated for a July 2017 release)? Does this news affect Sonys’ plans for the Sinister Six and Venom movies? What finally pushed Sony and Marvel to agree to a deal?

While it’s good news, it’s odd to think that Marvel has to get a deal to use one of its’ own characters in its’ films, but legal issues, film rights and other complications, what can you do.