My Most Anticipated TV series’ of 2019

I’ve done Games, I’ve done movies, now for the series that will take up hours of my time throughout the year. Last year had some excellent shows, Killing Eve, Bodyguard, and Daredevil sticking out in my head, but 2019 has some real treats in store (hopefully) and these are a few of the ones I am most excited to binge watch. 

Game Of Thrones – April

Where better to start than with arguably the most anticipated TV series in history. I watched every episode of Game of Thrones in August 2017, having never seen a single episode before. I knew about it of course, but I missed the start and felt I was too late to jump in. Once I decided to go from Episode one, it hooked me within the first hour. Sixty-seven episodes later, and I am a massive fan of the show.

With so many memorable characters over the seven seasons to date, and so many of them having met horrific ends, this season has the unenviable task of finishing the story. There are so many fan predictions and videos online about the upcoming season, but honestly I am avoiding all spoilers and going in just hoping that they can stick this landing. This is as ambitious a project as I have ever seen on TV, and if they pull it off and finish this series well, it will almost certainly cement itself at the top of TV shows for me. I loved Breaking Bad so much because of its excellent ending (in my opinion), so I really hope Game of Thrones can get it right.

Netflix’s The Punisher – January 18th

Netflix last year released a lot of series, all 4 of the defenders has a series released and to me the only success was Daredevil season 3. The next, and possibly the last Netflix Marvel series after the cancellation of Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil, is The Punisher Season 2. The first Punisher series surprised me, because it didn’t go for the over the top action I expected. It told a real story about a flawed character, and is the only series without Daredevil that has worked really well for me in this Netflix Marvel world.

Jon Bernthal returns as the title character, and his portrayal of Frank Castle is probably the best single performance in the Marvel series aside from Vincent D’onofrio’s Wilson Fisk. This season I am hoping for a bit more of the action I expected last time. The villain this time round, Jigsaw, was set up brilliantly in the last episodes we saw, so I am expecting big things from him trying to get revenge on Frank.

Stranger Things – 4th July

Halloween last year didn’t feel right without Stranger Things to binge all weekend, and I for one am glad its back this year. Wait its coming out in July? What the f….

In all seriousness, this show has been excellent for most people who have seen it,  for me its been a good show with some great moments, and I really hope the next season expands the property into new areas. The random episode last season (Season 2, Episode 7) felt very out of place for everyone, but I think this next season will do a lot to make sense of that episode. I expect a bit a change of tone for Stranger things, mainly due to the moved release date. Halloween was perfect for the pervious 2 seasons, so I am hoping for even more of a Goonies vibe this time round.

American Gods – March 10th in US – UK Unconfirmed.

American Gods was one of the weirdest series of tv I have ever watched. To be honest I am not sure whether i liked it or not, such is the level of weirdness. It was certainly interesting, and Ian McShane is absolutely brilliant in his role. The world it’s set in really does intrigue me a lot, combining the mythology of every real world religion is a really cool idea, and i have been tempted to read the book myself.

I am keen to see how the story plays out with the characters I know, and I think this next season could be a real surprise. Hopefully I am right, but honestly this series could be terrible, and at times in the first season it teetered on the edge of being nonsensical madness.

Of course there are several other series I will watch, Brooklyn 99, Lucifer and hopefully Archer all have new seasons coming out, along with Rick and Morty. Thanks for reading this week, and I am going to keep the posts coming this year. Again please share if you think someone else might like to waste 5 minutes reading my ramblings. Til tomorrow.

ChAzJS

These are a few of my favourite things (2018)

It’s a new year, so what else to do but write a post about my favourite film, TV show and game of the last year. These aren’t necessarily what I think is the best in terms of technical skills involved or even story, but they’re the pieces of entertainment that I enjoyed the most personally.  I have 4 picks, one for each of the 3 formats, I mentioned above, and then the one thing that I really enjoyed the most.

Favourite TV Show of 2018 – Killing Eve

I had no idea what this show was, right up until the minute I started watching it. A quick read of the synopsis told me it was about a female assassin, but beyond that I was blind going in. The shows brilliant leads Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh are equally fantastic in the show, and the dynamic that is developed between the them and the rest of the cast really make this show tick.

It has a little bit of everything I like in a show, and crucially for me, it doesn’t take itself too seriously which is what didn’t work for me in another good show from last year The Bodyguard. The only contender to Killing Eve’s crown was Netflix’s Daredevil season 3, but honestly even that didn’t come close. If you haven’t got round to Killing Eve yet, it’s on BBC iPlayer and im sure its streaming worldwide somewhere, it really is too good to miss out on.

Favourite Game of 2018 – Assassins Creed Odyssey

I have shocked myself with this choice and I am kind of cheating, but I know what my favourite piece of entertainment of the year is and I don’t want to give something 2 spots on this list, so Assassins creed has found its way here. I loved Spiderman, I appreciate the masterful work in Red Dead Redemption 2, I have played more of Fifa and Destiny 2 this year, and Fortnite is a endlessly enjoyable experience, but no game captured my imagination quite like AC: Odyssey did. I chose to play as Kassandra, and within the first hour of the game i was absolutely in on her story and what she was trying to do.

From the first moments on the island of Cephalonia, to the last minutes of the game I was hooked and this game does that by giving you a lot of fun tools, a massive, busy open world with lots of quests, and letting you play your way in it. I had largely given up on Assassins Creed after not enjoying the new style of play in the previous entry AC Origins, but this has brought me back and I still play this occasionally now, after completing the 3 huge main Quests. This was a very tight choice between AC and Spiderman on PS4, but today, I’m picking AC when tomorrow I might pick Spiderman, they’re both that great.

Favourite Film of 2018 – Avengers Infinity War (SHOCKING) 

This is a very tough category for me, with so many great films in 2018 i had a real hard time decidi…. LOL JK it just had to be Infinity War. Yes Spiderverse was amazing, and there are a lot of brilliant drama’s around, but nothing compares to the event that was Infinity War for me. It may require 22 films of homework before you watch it, but the payoff is sublime. A movie of this scale and encompassing so many characters is an achievement never attempted before in cinema history and somehow the Russo Brothers, Marvel and everyone who worked on this film managed to pull it off.

There are moments in this film that make me smile, laugh, well up, and gasp in disbelief. I remember the thought in my head in the final act of “Are they actually going to do it, end it at that iconic point from the comics”. I thought that, and then they went ahead and did exactly that. No spoilers here, but by now everyone has seen it, that moment is one of my favourite movie scenes of 2018.

Favourite Piece of Entertainment in 2018 – GOD OF WAR (PS4)

Sony Santa Monica’s God of War is the single greatest piece of entertainment I have ever consumed. Not just 2018, but in my 25 years on earth. Nothing in video games compares to the feeling of calling the Leviathan Axe back to your hand after throwing it through an enemy. No game I have played looks better than this game, and No game, film or TV show has ever produced a 10-15 hour experience all capture in one, long, uninterrupted camera take.

God of War can be compared to a stage show with its small cast of engaging characters and easy to understand plot, at the same time as being compared to the biggest blockbuster games and movies of all time with its spectacular set pieces and bombastic action. I know a lot of people, older generations in particular, will never see anything part of God of War, and I wish I could change that. God of War for me goes beyond just being a game, it is entertainment and storytelling at its very best.

Thanks for reading my rubbish! Please share if you think anyone else you know might want to waste some of their time reading my thoughts.

ChAzJS

Daredevil Season 3 Review

Daredevil may be the only series left in the disappointing Netflix Marvel universe that I care about at this point. However, knowing the basis for the story and loving these characters from the previous seasons, my expectations were sky high for Daredevils return on Netflix.

Those lofty expectations come from the brilliant comic story arc ‘Born Again’ by Frank Miller. No spoilers, but the events and tests puts Matt Murdoch through are engrossing and a chance to see that translated into live action in this series is tantalising.

All the cast we know return, with Charlie Cox crushing it in the role of Matt Murdoch once again. Deborah Anne Woll and Elden Henson return as Karen Page and Foggy Nelson, and the former gives their best performance as the reporter with a dark history. Foggy is the best he’s been, with less cheesiness than in previous seasons.

As er, there is some new supporting characters introduced this season, and Ray Nadeem played by Jay Ali really added an interesting dynamic to the story unfolding. Ben Poindexter, played by Wilson Bethel, is solid, but I felt a little over the top at times. It’s hard to discuss those characters much without spoilers.

One character who I do have to write a lot about though, and it’ll come as no surprise to fans of the previous seasons, is Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. He is now, in my opinion at least, the 2nd best villain marvel have ever done. Only Thanos in Infinity War can top him, and that’s a close race. Fisk is always 4 steps ahead, plotting from the very first scene to the end of the season. You’re constantly intrigued, intimidated, and captivated by the character. D’Onofrio perfectly captures the lethal gentleman, and the determined rage bubbling away behind his eyes.

All these solid performances would mean nothing without an engrossing story, and this twist on the Born Again arc provides just that. This series manages to avoid the filler episodes, a regular flaw that most Marvel Netflix series have. Each episode has a point to it, whether it’s immediately obvious or not, everything sewn early on comes back to pay dividends later in the series.

The seasons biggest flaw for me was a grindingly slow start. It starts off at a snails pace, but around episode 3-4 things start picking up pace. One of the most memorable and brilliantly executed prices of filmmaking this year for me is in one of these episodes. Taking inspiration from the one shot hallway scenes in the previous two seasons of the show, this season kicks things up another and i was genuinely amazed when I realised what was happening from a technical point of view.

Daredevil season three might well be one of the last in the Marvel Netflix run, with Luke Cage and Iron Fist being cancelled, but its taken the peices crafted over the last 26 episodes of Daredevil, a the 8 episodes of The Defenders, and crafted a truly brilliant series I loved. It’s rare a TV show gets its hooks in me now, with games, movies, and YouTube competing for limited time, I’m happy this series paid off.

Good: Performances, Fisk, Action Scenes, character interactions enthralling to watch.

Bad: Slow start, Poindexter a little over the top.

9/10 – The Man Without Fear delivers

Marvel’s Punisher – Netflix Review

Frank Castle / The Punisher was introduced to our screens in season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil. Such was the popularity of the character that he was given his own series which came out a few weeks ago. Led by the perfectly cast Jon Bernthal, I was excited to see an action packed series that focused on Marvel’s most brutal character. 

What we actually got wasn’t the over the top action series we may have expected or even hoped for. Instead this series, based on an insane comic book character with a big white skull on his chest, gives us one of the most realistic accounts of just what military veterans go through when returning from war and how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder really affects people’s lives. 

I didn’t expect that, and at first it threw me off. I went in expecting a basic plot, around some kind of drug ring that Frank had to take down with a hail of bullets, but this isn’t that simple. The decision to delve into this sensitive area and pull no punches about how tough it can be was a very brave call, and one that I think has paid off massively. The Punisher is one of the best dramatic TV shows I’ve watched in recent years, and it’s broken up by the visceral violence that you would expect in a Punisher series. 

Of course the main characters story is front and centre, featuring regular flashbacks to his families murder and his time in Afghanistan. This all gives so much for Jon Bernthal to work with and he grabs it with both hands. He is so good as this character, from the grunts and growls in combat scenes to the quiet looks and the rage bubbling away beneath his eyes. He is immense and carries the series on his shoulders. 
Backing him up is Amber Rose Revah as Homeland Security Agent Dinah Madani, Ben Barnes as Franks ex military friend Billy Russo (if you know comics that name might mean something), and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Leiberman / Micro. All 3 are really excellent, with each character fleshed out over the series and all go through an arc of some kind. Frank Castle is the main character, but these three all are key parts of what makes The Punisher a great series. 

The rest of the cast are good, even the child actors weren’t distracting and Marvels Netflix shows continue to cast good, talented actors in all the roles they have, the only misstep perhaps being Iron Fist. 

This is a Punisher series, so despite all the dramatic tension and excellent character building, we do need to see some action. I can imagine some people feeling frustrated by the lack of a minigun welding Punisher that nerds like me would love to see, as there are a few episodes where there’s not much action. However the action that is spread throughout the series is very hard hitting, even if the Punisher himself seems to soak up bullets like a sponge in water and not think much of it. 

There is a couple of scenes in the final episodes of the series that are really not for the queezy among you, but overall I think the action was well done. It lacks anything as memorable as the Daredevil hallway scene fights, and many of the firefights blend into one another in my memory, but they’re still entertaining enough to watch. 

I found the Punisher to be a much more thought provoking and harrowing series than I expected it to be. The quality of the performances and the way it paints a picture of what war vets go through is 100% worth watching. It might not be the Punisher series you expected, but it’s one that you’ll be glad you watched.

Good For: Shows PTSD in a very real, moving way. Great performances and doesn’t drag like most 13 episode marvel series have for me.

Bad for: if you are hoping for non stop action, this isn’t for you. Also Bernthals permanent batman impression from the Nolan trilogy might grate on you. 

9/10 – Great, clever series that surprised me! 

Star Trek: Discovery –  First 9 Review

Star Trek has never grabbed me. I’m not sure why, it’s always sounded on paper like something I would love. It has really deep science fiction roots, diverse story lines and beloved characters which all appeal to me. Perhaps it’s the older look of the series which feels dated to me that’s kept me away. Star Trek Discovery was released onto Netflix and looked shiny and new, so I decided to jump in. 

In the first episode the world is set up and the characters of Michael (a girl) and Saru are set up. We are introduced to the discovery, a space ship with more to it than first meets the eye, and from their things take off into an exciting story that I have found myself quite invested in.

The characters are introduced quickly, and then given more meat to them over the course of the series making each storyline feel important in its own way. The star of the show is Sonequa Martin, playing Michael Burnham, who is divided between her human nature and her Vulcan logic based upbringing. This inner conflict is a regular theme in the early part of the show and builds her character well.

The whole cast is solid, in particular Jason Isaacs as driven Captain Lorca, and Doug Jones as the cautious alien Saru. Isaacs commands every scene he is in, as you’d expect from a leader of a ship and has a dark history that’s delved into throughout the series. Doug Jones, in full make up which somehow still lets him emote, is in many ways the opposite of the main character but with the same goals, and their dynamic is a really intriguing part of Discovery.

The make up effects used on Saru is exceptional, and the same goes for the make up and practical effects throughout the entire show. The Klingons are realised in a way I’ve never seen before, with full make up on every one of them, no CG, and it’s really effective. They look like real aliens, and the hours of time spent on them pays off.  On top of the practical effects, the special effects and space battles are stunning, and wouldn’t be out-of-place in the Star Trek cinematic efforts. This series looks incredible, everything from the effects above to the costumes to the screens and displays on the ships is made to look futuristic and yet practical.

I imagine some star trek fans may have problems with the series due to the incredible production values, it does make the old series, that are set years after this one, feel extremely dated. I don’t have this connection so I’m just happy to have a series that has got me into the series more than I ever thought possible.

Like most Netflix produced shows, there are a couple of odd, throwaway episodes/story lines that go nowhere. I think these episodes may mean more than I’m grasping being a Star Trek novice, as a few times I’ve been left questioning what is happening with no explanation given. This is a Star Trek series, and it doesn’t walk you into the world. It tells its story and if you don’t understand something, googling it will normally reveal something that links back to a previous series.

The only real problem I have with Discovery is the love interest for the character, which seems a bit forced and in the context of the show and where the love interest has been, doesn’t seem to make much sense. It’s a minor gripe, and one that may be explained away like a lot of my minor issues from the early episodes have been.

Star Trek Discovery is a really good Sci-fi series with strong production values, interesting characters and clever story lines. It might have a lot of references I am missing that star trek fans would love, but I am thoroughly enjoying it without any of that. We are only 9 episodes in, as the series has a mid season break, and returns on January 8th, but so far so good.

Good for: Anyone who is a Sci-fi fan. I’d have thought Trekkies will love it even more than the average sci-fi fan, but I’ve found it to be a great introduction into the TV universe if you’ve just seen the recent movies like me.

Bad for: Those of you who aren’t into sci-fi, obviously. People who get weirded out by girls with men’s names.