Misfits – Series 5

Misfits_-_Season_5_-_Cast_Promotional_Photos_(2)_FULLMisfits has easily been e4’s best original drama from the past two or three years but this year it was time for the asbo-superhero show to draw to a close. Now with a completely different cast from when the show started out Misfits had become a slightly confused entity. Despite this I thought series four was on of the programmes strongest overall, mainly because it took everything back to basics; the writing had become over-complicated by series three and the upheaval of cast members meant that they had to start again from scratch. With it’s fifth and final series though, Misfits badly fails to deliver.

In the past Misfits has been a eclectic mix of comedy, drama and action, every element being well thought-out and completely fresh and original. Series five however lacks the fresh-faced bite it once had. There aren’t many darker moments and only one episode of the series where we get a flash of the horror element that the show so successfully pulls off in previous seasons. The cast interaction is awkward too, and by this series it becomes impossible to look past the fact that these people actually live in the community centre and the support worker isn’t even bothered by it. The support worker, played by Shaun Dooley, it must be said is the programmes strongest character and the funniest, a dangerously insane man with homosexual tendencies that he doesn’t really know how to express but by episode eight even this joke is wearing thin. I’m also a big fan of Joe Gilgun’s Rudy and think he makes a great central character but what it comes down to in series five is the writing being off the ball. There are too many episodes that just feel like filler with the odd hint at the overall story arc that then is rushed together in the final episode and limply flops to a climax. Not to mention the fact that they kill a character off and then have him come back moments later, it seems too set on having a happy ending to let that happen, never a strong way to end something.

In the past Misfits has provided some of the best TV moments, and was one of the freshest drama ideas that has been produced in recent times so it’s a real shame that it’s final series fails to deliver and cap off what should be remembered as a very important milestone in British drama.

 

Man of Steel

superman-man-of-steel-movie-image-henry-cavill-01

 

The season of summer blockbusters is well under way now and one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year was Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot. Produced by Syncopy, the Nolan company behind the Dark Knight trilogy it was planned that DC’s other big property would get the same treatment Batman did. But it was never going to be easy, Superman is a very different character and one that is much harder to get right since there are so many potential pitfalls. The biggest issue with him is he’s far too over-powered, it’s very hard to care for someone who’s so perfect. He’s also a lot less cool than Batman, he zips about the sky wisping women off their feet, saving the world, caring for his parents, being ridiculously handsome and wearing bright blue tights. On it’s release man of Steel has received one of the most mixed critical receptions in recent memory, leaving the question of whether Snyder did a good job very much up in the air.

I have to say that in retrospect he really did not. As Man of Steel begins we spend the first fifteen minutes or so with his parents as they try defend his home planet of Krypton from Michael Shannon’s General Zod. The opening battle is alright but it leaves you waiting for at least half an hour before any kind of ‘Superman’ antics begin to happen, we spend a lot of time up on Krypton and even more time watching young Clark not retaliate against bullies. It gets pretty frustrating and annoying having to spend so long on his origin story which literally everyone in the world already knows, but then that is the problem with a reboot. A few years ago they were all the rage, this is the first origin we’ve had to deal with in a while so we’ll let it go. But then things don’t get much better. As Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is introduced we flit back and forth through different events in Clark Kent’s life and it’s often not clear what period of time we’re in, not to mention the fact that we see the exact same situation of young Clark getting pushed around and having to try really hard not to hit back. We got the message the first time, he’s perfect, he won’t snap back. There’s not a single scene in the whole movie that isn’t completely over-dramatic. I think Henry Cavill’s eyes must have constantly had some kind of dew producing contraption hidden behind them so he never stops looking like he’s about to cry, in fact every character looks like they’re about to cry all the time. When we finally get through the under-written, hammy plot we are treated to some great action. Michael Shannon is probably the strongest performer of the film although in the end General Zod’s defeat is completely underwhelming. Zod and Superman being flung around Metropolis provide us with the film’s best moment but even that eventually drags on, I thought it had ended about three times before it actually, finally did and by the end of it all it feels like you’ve just been seeing the same thing over and over. Zod throws Superman, he skids along the concrete. Superman throws Zod he collapses a building and repeat.

I did find myself enjoying it for a short while during the final fight but overall this is Snyder all over, looks nice but is completely lacking in anything else. If a different director helms the sequel perhaps Superman may have more life in him but, in my opinion, Snyder is not the man for the job. Chances are if the second ones good Man of Steel will be easily looked over.

Iron Man 3

iron-man-3-tony-stark-robert-downey-jrThe first big blockbuster of the summer arrives in the form of Iron Man 3. Fresh off the back of Avengers Assemble Marvel had quite a challenge following on from their biggest success ever. It was an obvious decision for them to follow up their big team-up with their strongest solo franchise, Iron Man. The first Iron Man movie was a great introduction to the character and one of the better superhero origin films of the last decade or so. It’s sequel, however, didn’t quite reach the same enjoyment, it had a muddled plot and the final battle was extremely anti-climactic. There was every reason to believe that the third instalment would bring things back on track for Stark Industries. It’s the first in the franchise without Jon Favreau directing, instead it’s the turn of Shane Black, it was said that Iron Man 3 would be a much more personal adventure for our hero to contrast with the Avengers and as with all sequels, expect it to be darker than its predecessors.

Iron Man 3 is a very personal adventure for Tony Stark, he spends a large part of the movie without his iron suit and is left to save himself without his gadgetry. It’s an attempt to strip things down and give Downey Jr’s billionaire superhero a chance to make us feel for him again. Unfortunately, it’s only partly successful. While the movie is a good few steps above Iron Man 2 it still lacks the spark that can be fond in the first one. The action is well handled and fun to watch, as are the jokes – Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin is especially funny – but the overall feeling from the movie is one of mediocrity. One that’s happy to skate by without trying too hard. It works, just about, but is ultimately a disappointment and something that Marvel Studios can’t afford to be doing if they want to keep the momentum going. There’s plenty to be enjoyed here but, ultimately, this feels more mass produced than most superhero movies and ends up having less heart than it should do.

While Iron Man 3 is an enjoyable watch, I think, if the franchise carries on in this vain it won’t have too much more time. The box office obviously disagrees with me at the moment but let’s hope that when a fourth instalment gets planned they do something really special.

Inspectah Deck + 7L & Esoteric = CZARFACE

czar304

 

Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck joins forces with underground rappers 7L and Esoteric to create Czarface, probably the most refreshing hip-hop record in years. I stumbled across the album on iTunes and was taken aback by how special it actually was. They combine old school hip hop techniques with more recent styles and the result is a breath of fresh air for the whole of hip hop music, in my opinion.

The record is not littered with samples like a large amount of popular hip hop nowadays, it instead takes the somewhat old fashioned approach of bringing the actual rapping to the fore, the beats being laid underneath in such a way that no limelight is taken off the lyrics. The album has a running theme of superheroes with the likes of Batman, Iron Man, etc. popping up at various points and the trio have created this character the ‘Czarface’ based on these more well known creations, in doing this its given the guys a fresh way of delivering old school raps, where they reference the things that they love and make brash claims about being the greatest in the world. The art work, of course, ties in with this and I think it just looks fucking sick, giving the whole concept of the album a picture that we can all relate to and therefore engage with the record in a much better way. While the rapping is the stand out factor it would be wrong for me to completely discount how good the production is here too, I’m sure if these guys wanted they could’ve used the same beats more prominently and the tracks would still be excellent, making the decision to have them as a bottom layer to each song even more inspired since so much work have obviously gone into them. It is clear here that everyone involved is just out to create the music they were brought up on and bring it back the way it should be. Czarface is coming for you, let’s hope this isn’t the only thing we hear from him.

Dredd

Judge Dredd Still ImageYesterday the mood finally struck me to watch Dredd, the 2012 re-hash of the 2000AD comic book hero. Fortunately, yes, it was better than Stallone’s original incarnation. But the film has been the subject of a lot scrutiny since it basically has the exact same plot as The Raid, which is probably the best action film of the decade leaving Dredd with a rather high standard to reach. It’s unfortunate that Dredd was actually in development before The Raid ever was but its release date came afterwards and therefore doesn’t feel original.

Going in I thought the stories couldn’t be exactly the same, surely. But I was shocked by how few differences there were, they might as well have used the same script just with different actors. Perhaps that’ a slight over exaggeration but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. The differences to be found in Dredd, however, are some of the most interesting parts of the film. In particular the new drug, Slow-Mo which makes the brain see things at 1 per cent their normal speed, it sets up a number of brilliant set pieces and super slow motion shoot-outs. The problem, again, is that the action is nowhere near the level of The Raid and while normally you wouldn’t expect anything be that mind-bogglingly awesome Dredd is fighting a losing battle as it is so similar.

In fact it’s very hard to give it a fair trial, I enjoyed watching but I’d never watch it again because I’d just watch The Raid, if it had come out before it may well have been a much more entertaining watch but I still feel as though even if The Raid did come out after Dredd it would still shit all over it. Let’s be clear Dredd is much better than the Stallone and a much better portrayal of the Judge himself and a well-made action picture but it seems to have been cursed by the worst luck possible, let’s hope it’s not the final nail in the coffin for big screen adaptations though, there’s so much potential in Mega City One.

 

Misfits – Series 4

misfitsseries4trailersFollowing from arguably the weakest series of E4’s superhero’s-with-asbos drama Misfits series four stripped itself back down to basics. Introducing us to two new gang members Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome) both of whom are much more well-rounded personalities than the main cast that preceded them. Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is the only remaining original member and he meets a rather abrupt end only halfway through the series. Joseph Gilgun’s Rudy also returns having joined the gang in series three. The gang are overlooked by the series’ enigmatic, scary and at times laugh-out-load hilarious new probation worker, played by Shaun Dooley.

This series focusses much more on character study than any of the previous ones opting to flesh out all members of the gang into relatable, yet still fucked-up, youths and their super powers take the back seat. Finn, in particular, is an everyman that the show has lacked in the past, one that actually cares about girls and aims to do good generally, he is fantastically portrayed by McMullen too, a great newcomer. Much the same can be said for Jess, she’s a girl with a bite but is much subdued and ultimately more realistic and believable than both Alicia and Kelly who left the show at the end of series three. Rudy is a much more likable centre-piece than his predecessor too and in series four he is given much more of a chance to show his true colours and Gilgun masterfully brings the character real gravitas.

In series four creator and main writer Howard Overman is much more concerned in human drama than the comic book style action we grew used to in previous series. Often looking at the relationships these teenagers have with each other and outsiders and how they deal with boyfriends/girlfriends, parents and people in authority overall giving a very impressively realistic overview of the lost youth of today. That’s not to say, though, that the series has lost it’s action side there are episodes here which flow into the darkly violent, horror movie-style action scenes they’ve done so well in the past, enemies the gang face include the four cyclists of the apocalypse, the return of some zombies and, in perhaps the shows greatest episode of all-time and a perfect example of the absurdity the show can do so well, a golf-club wielding killer rabbit in a suit. If that isn’t enough to make you watch it then what  is?

What series four has done so well is brought things back down to earth, it seemed at times in the past it was all getting a bit too complicated but by losing the majority of the cast it’s given the programme a chance to review what it’s actually about and gives these criminal youths some real personality again. It reminds you of what made you get into Misfits in the first place and with the news that Overman is trying to get funding for a film version and the overwhelming possibility of a fifth series it seems that it could go on to become one of Britain’s most succesful exports in years, and rightly so.