Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Movie Review

TL;DR – A pure delight from start to finish in an absolutely stunningly realised world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Gwen and Miles sit upside down looking at the sky line of New York.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review

If there is ever a tough act to follow, it is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A film that shifted an entire film production style that many movies like The Mitchells vs. The Machines and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish have taken onboard since. Indeed, I loved the movie so much that it sits on My Personal Top 10 Animated Films of All Time. There is no way a sequel could like up to that legacy … but hear me out … what if it could.

So to set the scene, It has been one year since the event of the last film, and Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) has been struggling with being all alone again after finding a kindred spirit with Miles (Shameik Moore). However, when a Vulture (Jorma Taccone) from a Renaissance-style universe trashes the Guggenheim Museum, she discovers that the Spider-verse is not closed off. But also her dad George Stacy (Shea Whigham), finds out she is Spider-Woman, and tries to arrest her. This could have ended badly without the rescue from Miguel O’Hara / Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), for a Spider-Society is protecting the Multiverse from all threats, and Gwen is the newest member.

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Ted Lasso: So Long, Farewell and Season 3 – TV Review

TL;DR – Builds upon everything that made the series great by focussing on the character development of every kind  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.

Ted sits alone in the stands

Ted Lasso Review

If there has been one consistent feature over the last few years of that evert the 2020s has been so far, it has been the joy that has come from Ted Lasso. I know this show is stylised, so it could almost be magical realism like The West Wing. But I don’t care. Every moment, every kick of a football, had me on the edge of my chair, and this final season of the show that maybe/probably/we’ll see was no exception. With today’s review, we will first look at the final episode aptly titled So Long, Farewell, and then we will look at the season as a whole.   

So to set the scene, at the end of Season 2, the Richmond Greyhounds fount back from relegation to make it back into the Premier League. This is a triumph for the coaching staff Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). As well as team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham). As the season went on, there were struggles as “The Wonder Kid” Nathan “Nate” Shelley (Nick Mohammed) and his West Ham United team destroyed the team leading to a massive slump. However, as we come into this final episode, things are looking up, but in Mom City, Ted reveals to Rebecca that it is his time to drop a bombshell, and we open this final episode with Rebecca having breakfast in her house and Ted coming out to join her. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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Planet of Lana – Video Game Review

TL;DR – A stunningly beautiful game that pulls at the heartstrings as it reveals the world one puzzle at a time.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Game Pass service that viewed this game.

Alien mothership in the distance

Planet of Lana Review –

One of the things that you are always looking for when you boot up a new game is to experience something that pulls on your emotions. Does it build upon strong mechanics and art design to bring a world alive? Today we are looking at a game that does just that as it charms and uplifts you.

So to set the scene, on a planet off somewhere in the galaxy, we meet Lana (Bianca Zoe Mantelli), who lives in a small but friendly fishing village on the coast of a giant sea. Running through the town with her big sister Elo (Rossmary Petruzzelli), they climb up the nearby hillside to visit a place of sadness and to reflect on their bond. But when they get there, they see objects falling from the sky, and soon grand machines capture Elo and take her up into the sky. The village is in ruins by the time Lana can get back, everyone has been taken, but nothing will stop Lana from trying to save her family, where she meets a little animal friend who may be the hope of her salvation.

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How Ted Lasso Perfected the Nothing/Everything Episode with Sunflowers – Article

TL;DR – This article explores how a show can have an episode focused on nothing, yet still be everything.  

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this show.  

Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

How Ted Lasso Perfected the Nothing/Everything Episode with Sunflowers

One of the significant shifts in the Television landscape was the move from more episodic episodes to more serialised outings. It started taking steam in the 1990s with shows like Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine. But this would explode in the streaming era, with nearly every show you watch having some serialised component. Whether the show works with the serialised content does not matter. With the insertion of boilerplate narrative arcs becoming more of the norm, looking at you Wednesday. In this world, can you have a stand-alone, nothing episode anymore?

There was a time when shows like Seinfeld built themselves around being the show about nothing, where there was no character growth. However, today if you have an episode, let alone a series, where nothing happens, you will get a chorus of comments claiming condensation over there being filler. I have seen a claim championed time after time, whether the show was filler. But can you still have an engaging episode of TV that does not move the plot along in the current landscape? Well, you must trust your audience to come along with you if you want to attempt something like this. Trust which is something that is earned, not given.

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Star Trek: Picard – The Last Generation and Season Three – TV Review

TL;DR – They stuck the landing.   

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

The USS Enterprise-D

Star Trek: Picard Review

The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard has come to an end, and more like any season so far, this felt almost like Star Trek: The Next Generation season 8. There was a little concern coming into the start of the season as to whether they could make it more than just a nostalgia fest. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of nostalgia on offer here. But there is also a lot of heart. In today’s review, we will first look at whether they stuck the landing with the final episode and then at the season and maybe the series as a whole.

So to set the scene, in Võx, we discovered the terrible secret that Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers) had been holding so tight that even he did not know, he is The Borg. Or at least he had inherited some of the DNA changes The Borg made to Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). This made him reach out to the voice in his head … The Borg Queen (Alice Krige/Jane Edwina Seymour) herself. Which sets in motion The Borg’s final plan to trigger the Borg DNA inserted in all the young officers and remotely assimilate them using Jack’s ability, and it works. The fleet is taken over, most of those not assimilated are killed, and only Spacedock stands between The Borg and the extermination of Earth. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode, and season, as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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Star Trek: Picard – Võx – TV Review

TL;DR – This week’s episode was electric, with every reveal, every twist, and every moment landing perfectly  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.

The fleet comes together.

Star Trek: Picard Review

There have been a lot of beautiful episodes of Star Trek that have been aired in its 57-year history. Indeed, back in the year 2020, I made my own list of My Personal Top 25 Episodes out of the 743 episodes that had aired up to that point. I bring this up because, as of today, I know I have to amend this list because I just watched one of the finest hours of Star Trek so far.

So to set the scene, after securing the USS Titan-A from the Dominion invaders in Surrender. The whole old crew of the USS Enterprise D and E came together for the first time in an age. Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner), Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Troi (Marina Sirtis), Crusher (Gates McFadden), Geordi (LeVar Burton), and Worf (Michael Dorn). There are ill omens in the air because while the Dominion elements have been defeated, it is clear that something is set to occur on Frontier Day, and they have still not worked out what that is. But before they can do that, one question that can be answered is what is happening to Jack (Ed Speleers) because Deanna Troi can help him find what is locked away and is causing him such grief. But no one was prepared for what they found. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Aftersun – Movie Review

TL;DR – An emotional whirlwind – Stunning, Beautiful, and Heartbreaking.     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Warning – This film contains a lot of flashing lights.

An image of Sophie pixelated by the old camera

Aftersun Review

If one film has been bubbling away in my subconscious since last October, it was Aftersun. Everyone who had seen it spoke of it almost like a transcendent experience, but it has taken a long time to make it down to my realm and longer for me to make it to the cinema. However, if the saying all good things come to those who wait had a physical manifestation, it would be Aftersun.

So to set the scene, it is sometime in the past [I think the late 1990s before everyone had mobile phones], and Calum (Paul Mescal) goes on a family trip to Turkey with his daughter Sophie (Frankie Corio). Sophie lives with her mother, which is a chance for them to bond, but there is some apparent awkwardness for all. Calum is trying to build a relationship, while Sophie is at the age where she is finding her independence. Is this trip the start of something better or the beginning of the end?

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Creed III – Movie Review

TL;DR Creed III is electric, every punch matters, every emotion hits, and I was captivated from start to finish.   

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Creed III Review

If there was ever a film to remind you not to judge a book by its cover, it is the first Creed film. Creed I was a film that, on the surface, felt like it would not amount to much. A spin-off of a film series that itself had already gone well past its prime. But boy, was I wrong. That first Creed was an emotional punch to the stomach while also being a technical masterclass in how to film boxing for cinema. Then they followed it up with Creed II, which came out swinging just as much as the first. Now, Creed III is one of my most anticipated films this year as we see if they can pull off a hat trick.    

So to set the scene, since winning his rematch with Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been going from strength to strength on and off the ring, especially in his family life with Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson) and their daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). But when he finally retires, his past comes back to haunt him. When Donnie (Thaddeus James Mixson Jr) was young, he had a friend Dame (Spence Moore II). But, unlike Donnie, Dame never got a lifeline and has spent a long time in jail. Now he is out, Dame (Jonathan Majors) is looking to show the world that he deserves to be in the ring, that it was not handed to him, and now former friends find each other on opposite sides.

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The Last of Us: Kin – TV Review

TL;DR – This week, we wallow in the murky grey of a fallen world.  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this show.

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress.

Sunset in the grass.

The Last of Us Review

One of the best tests of a show is how it can capture your attention in both the loud and quiet moments. Yes, you can do a good action scene, but do I believe two characters are family with troubled pasts? Can you pull off tenderness as well as bombast? Well, this week, we get an episode of television that can nail both extremes.

So to set the scene, it has been three months since Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) left Kansas City in Endure and Survive, but the legacy of what happened there still weighs heavily on Joel. They are making their way to Wyoming but being on foot and in a post-apocalyptic world means you can get lost quite easily. This is when they run into the cabin of Marlon (Graham Greene), and Florence (Elaine Miles), who tell them where they are going is past the River of Death, where no one comes back from. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead for the show.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Movie Review

TL;DR – A work of art that hits on every emotional level from start to finish.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Pinocchio but just a puppet.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Review

Some names instantly intrigue you when you hear they are attached to a project. Which is entirely what happened when I heard that Guillermo del Toro was going to make a Pinocchio film. This alone was enough to interest me. Then you discover that it will be an animated film, not just that, a stop-motion animation film, and the masters of puppets, The Jim Henson Company, will produce it. Well, that is a combination that could not be missed, and I am fundamentally glad I watched it.   

 So to set the scene, master craftsman Geppetto (David Bradley) lost his only child Calro (Gregory Mann), during the Great War when he was only ten years old. A stray bomb destroyed the church that they were working in, and it is a loss that he has never recovered from. Sometime later, Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), a travelling cricket, came to live in the tree planted at Carlo’s grave and watched as a drunk Geppetto laments over his lost son. But as that is happening, some old spirits from the forest who typically ignore humanity hear the pleas of the grieving father and when he cuts down the pine tree that was planted at the grave to turn it into a puppet. So The Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) looks over the creation and then brings that puppet Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) to life.   

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