Impressions: Marvel’s Runaways

I was more than excited when I heard that Runaways was being adapted for Hulu. Ever since the Marvel shows started airing on Netflix I have wanted something that was a little bit less, how do I put it, predictable. With Daredevil all the motives were clear from the beginning. Fisk was a bad guy doing bad things and Murdock was a good guy doing questionably good things. This trend flows through Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Ironfist, and into the Defenders. All through all of these properties, we know who to root for and who not to root for. More or less. But in Runaways airing on Hulu, the lines are a little bit blurred.

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Here we have a bunch of teenagers doing what teens do best, rebelling against their parents. The only difference is that the kids witness their parents doing something truly awful. While snooping around Alex’s father’s study during one of their parent’s PRIDE, an organization that is supposed to better the community, meetings Alex along with the other kids stumble upon a ritual that their parents are doing. In it, they sacrifice a kid for an unknown reason. This kid just so happens to be a runaway, someone no one would miss, or so they thought. This event forces the kids to band together in order to find out why their parents would do something so horrible. 

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And there it is. The “why”. You see, William Fisk had a hard childhood an grew into a cold man. Kilgrave had a hard childhood and grew into a cold man. Same for Ward Meachum. And Willis Stryker. It’s always the same story. Life sucks so I’m going to be mean. However, with the parents in Runaways, this is simply not the case. They are being forced into their current actions by an entity that they really don’t understand. That coupled with the fact that they actually care for the safety of their kids makes me want to root for them just as much as I root for the kids. 

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It’s this reasoning that makes Runaways stand out from all the rest. Is it a little slow, yes. Does it sometimes dabble a little too hard in the teenage drama? You bet your buttocks. In the end, it is this interesting portrayal of a double narrative that will make me tune in every week in order to see how this situation pans out. Until then, keep running Runaways. 

 

10 Reasons: The Magicians

Have you heard about The Magicians? That new show on SyFy that is frickin amazing? If not, shame, shame on you and everything you stand for as a person. The Magicians, another show that is based on a novel, can only really be described as a mixture of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. Quentin Coldwater has just been accepted into Brakebills, a school that trains magicians. He feels like his real life is about to begin, but knowing about magic is only the beginning of this crazy ride. So let me give you 10 reasons why you should watch this show.

One: Magic! Duh

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What would a show about magicians be without magic? Well, a show about crappy magicians but that is beside the point. The visuals in The Magicians are simply stunning. The show seems to capture the wonder and excitement of doing magic. Not just something you can see, but something you can feel.

Two: Hogwarts For Adults

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Magic isn’t for the lucky, it belongs to the incredibly disturbed. The sad and the longing. Magic is born out of pain. Brakebills isn’t a happy place filled with mystical wonder. It’s work.

Three: No Good Guys

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It would be hard to find the “good” side in The Magicians. Every character has their own selfish goal that they are trying to build to. No overwhelming moral compasses here. No one is trying to fight the greater evil, (I mean they are but not really) most of them are following a path that becomes visible with time. In fact, the main bad guy only brings them together in the end.

Four: Interesting Secondary Characters

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Most tv shows are broken up into acts. They follow both what the main characters and what the side characters are doing. In some cases, this leaves us with an interesting and a less interesting storyline. That is simply not the case here. We are getting to know the entire magical world as all the characters figure out what magic means to them.

Five: Brakebills

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No one is holding your hand here and spellwork is known to kill. If you are attending Brakebills then you are proceeding at your own risk. No one is holding your hand here, which only makes the situation even more intense. Plus, look at that beautiful campus.

Six: Bad Ass Women

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If you were looking for strong female characters kicking ass then look no further. Most of the girls on this show are running things, with the best magician being Alice of course.  I wouldn’t want to be on the bad side of any of these women.

Seven: A Beautiful Adaptation

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Nothing will ever follow the original source material to the letter. That being said, The Magicians is actually a pretty good TV adaption. There are some choices that made me scratch my head a little, (why the hell is Josh only in a few episodes), but for the most part, the path that they follow works. So much so that the two could possibly be in the same timeline. So to speak.

Eight: Real Consequences

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For the most part, no one is swooping in to help. You won’t see an older magician come in the nick of time to save the day and if you do it won’t go the way you think it will go. This has managed to always keep me on my toes. For the most part, everyone is fair game. Everyone isn’t getting a happy ending here, but that might not be a bad thing after all.

Nine: The Feels

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The show manages to make you feel for a different character each episode. Whether it is bad ass Penny, neurotic Quentin, lonely Alice, elegant Eliot, or smart mouth Margo, each character brings something to the table that makes you want to just give them a hug. Magic is pain remember.

Ten: It’s A Great Guilt Pleasure

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You will laugh. You will cry. You will cry again. You will cry a third time. You will curse yourself for laughing in the first place. You will forget what laughter felt like. What it sounded like in your hollow voice. How it made you feel. Then, you will slumber. It’s a great time.

How Netflix’s 3% Could Become A Reality

In the last year, Netflix’s original programming has introduced me to some of the best shows I have ever seen. From Love Sick (formally Scrotal Recall) to The OA, The Marvel Series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage), Stranger Things, and last but not least,  Black Mirror. The point is, our trust pal Netflix tends to do no wrong on the show side. Enter 3%, a series involving a world that has been split into a very noticeable hierarchy. Every year the youth of the world take a group of test called The Process. You are only allowed to take the test once, and if you pass you are allowed to join the best of the best in a place called The Offshore. If you fail, you are to forever live in poverty.

Sounds like a great binge watch right? However, as fun to watch as the Brazilian dystopian future show 3% is, it is also a very dangerous warning. While watching the events unfold on-screen I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarities to the world around me. It wasn’t like in Hunger Games where children were being taken away to die. These children all had a fighting chance. They had time to prepare and most of them wanted to pass the trials ahead of them.

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The first thing that threw me off about The Process was how fair it was. These kids aren’t geniuses. Nobody is being forced to fight anyone else. The tests are mostly psychological. The kids are put into a situation and have to figure out how to get out of it or how to solve a certain problem. Success is rewarded with praise and treats. Failure gets you eliminated. Even as the world gets darker it never spirals out of control. It always seems to be based in reality, and that is why it scares me.

See, if it was based on violence I wouldn’t be concerned. For the most part, I believe that something like The Hunger Games would never happen, or at least it would never be televised. However, we already go through The Process. Every year kids prepare to go to school for the first time. Attendance is mandatory. If you succeed, you move on. If you fail, you face the consequences. As schooling goes on it gets increasingly competitive. By the end you are fighting to get into a college you like. You have lost friends. Some have dropped out. Failed. Died. And yet here you are, fighting for something that someone else made you believe was the right choice from a young age.

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This is all normal right? Is it just the way the world works? Well, that is exactly how the world of The 3% got to where it is today. The 3% look down on the other 97%. They control them through militant actions and constant surveillance. They torture and dispose of anyone who is against their Process. Their way of life. Because they passed, why can’t you? It’s all fair, right? Everyone gets a chance. People murder, cheat and steal in order to pass The Process. They are willing to let their families rot in poverty just so that they can have a better life. The test takers are constantly forced to choose between what is right and what is for the good of the 3%.

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Now, I’m not saying that our society is going to change overnight, the seeds of a 3% future have already been planted. And as we all know, reality and art tend to mimic each other. I don’t know if Netflix is going to give this show a second season, or where it would go even if it got one, but I am curious to see what they do with it. A lot of storylines were left unresolved and the viewers never actually got to see the Offshore. I’m curious to see what happens to the characters who failed the test. It seemed as if a civil unrest was brewing in the 97%. If you didn’t catch this one in your suggestions that I would fully recommend seeking it out and giving it a good old fashion binge.

Review: The Young Kieslowski

Another weekend alone. Another random movie on Netflix. I figured I would keep with the tradition of picking at random so I selected the first movie that look visually appealing. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover but is it ok for movies? By the way, this review will have some spoilers. You have been warned.

With that being said, I give you “The Young Kieslowski”

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For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. That is the theme of this wonderful film. We open the movie on Brian Kieslowski, (Ryan Malgarini), who is having an American Pie style awkward conversation with his mother about sex. That is until she throws out the fact that she has cancer and that she only wants him to know what he is doing. How she feels she should be able to say anything she needs to say on the subject because she might not be around much longer. This is when I stopped laughing.

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Brian is a virgin, but he isn’t actively trying to get laid. It isn’t a game to him. He seems to know that sex is a serious responsibility. So when he meets Leslie Mallard (Haley Lu Richardson) I didn’t quite know where it was going to go. Leslie seemed sure of herself, for a drunk person, and proudly declares herself to be a virgin waiting for marriage. That was the moment I knew this was going to go downhill fast.

Growing up in a church I knew girls like Leslie. I knew the type. I also knew what would eventually happen to them. Most of them had kids, at around the age of 17-20. One is a lesbian. Turns out she didn’t want to have sex with guys anyway. Beside the point. I said all that to say, I know where this is going.

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When I was younger the thought of having children stopped me from having sex. The thought of having a smaller version of me running around halted me in my tracks. That amount of stress isn’t good on someone growing up. Brian doesn’t want to be a father in college, but he doesn’t know how to tell Leslie that he wants her to get an abortion.

This sort of divide will destroy a couple before they even get started. If you don’t have a level of friendship that starts your relationship at least have a level of honesty.

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Brian is the young Kieslowski, but he isn’t a child anymore. He threw that life away when he got Leslie pregnant. Now, he doesn’t have time to be a child. He doesn’t have time to watch his life unfold in front of him because he has to take care of someone else. The crushing wave of reality is drowning him. He has to deal with what Leslie wants. What his parents want for him. What Leslie’s father wants for them. But, no matter how nosey or opinionated everyone seems to be, they all have a point. Kids become your life. Think about this choice before you act because you have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.

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What gets me about this movie is that no one is acting weirdly, or out of character. Sadly, that is how life works. Everyone has an opinion about how life should work out and sometimes everyone has a point. Sometimes, even if the action seem ridiculous, if you put yourself in another person’s shoes they are easier to understand.

The ending was one I saw coming, but the journey was well worth it. Life becomes easier when we stand together then when we are divided. However, what will stick with me is a line Brian’s mother said. “I think, whats really bothering you is if your with her it feels like you never had a choice. But you do have a choice.” And thats just it. I have sabotaged multiple of my relationships because of that feeling. The feeling of being trapped. It also applies to life. No matter what the situation is, you always have a choice.

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Review: AFK Season 1

What is “AFK” About? What would you do if you woke up in the body of a video game character? It would be an amazing feeling to physically enter a world you have already spent so much time in, right? Well, for the players in AFK, the video game world is far from the fantasy they were previously living. Everywhere they turn, chaos is in full effect. What of your parents? The people you left behind? Would you ever be able to return to the real world?

Enter Q, a tough as nails girl/elf who finds herself in the body of the character she was playing in an MMO. After being “saved” by Jack, a power gamer who is all to excited to be in this situation, the two venture off with the hopes of staying alive. Several other characters enter the fray like Steven, a guy stuck playing a girl, Maybel, a girl stuck playing a guy Gnome, Brendon, a 15 year old stuck in the body of a grown wizard, and V’Rugga, a enemy faction character who can’t speak english.

The mission is simple, ban together to survive their new reality or die trying.

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The Good? The characters in the world of AFK have this overall feeling of being lost. This feeling is then translated throughout everything they say or do. You have to keep in mind, these kids have no clue what they are doing. It would be weird it they were all upbeat about the situation.

The costume and character design are amazing. You can tell that the creators took inspiration from The World of Warcraft. The way the characters interact with one another is both realistic and hilarious. Q doesn’t want to be apart of this world and just wants to find a way out. She doesn’t find this fun or amusing. She knows how dangerous this world is. She also knows that acts of heroism will get you killed more often then not.

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The Bad? AFK can seem a little bit slow. Much like the first half of the new Stars Wars movie, the characters are stumbling around this new environment while trying to survive. It can seem like a jumbled mess of storylines that don’t seem to be working together at all at times, and the can be disheartening to people looking for “heroes” to step up and take action. This isn’t that story, not at first.

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Why You Should Watch It? AFK is a beautiful experience set it a magical land that feels familiar. There are several characters to root for, and against, and it never feels like anyone is acting out of character. The costumes are fantastic, the character design is amazing, and the story comes to a conclusion you might not have saw coming. All in all I am looking forward to this getting another season, hopefully with a better sense of direction. 4/5

Where Is It? AFK is available on youtube.

Review: LARPs

What Is LARPs About? Have you ever wanted to be someone that you are not? Have you ever thought about what it would be like to role-play? If so, then LARPs is the series for you. In its first season, we are introduced to five wildly different characters who all share the same hobby of Larping, or Live Action Role-Playing. Arthur plays the ninja assassin Noctus. Will play the carefree archer Biff. Shane plays the fire loving Astra. Brittany plays the magical elf Corillia. And Evan is there ever so prepared Dungeon Master. (Kat joins the team in season two as the healer Ellowyn.)

Our story picks up with Shane joining a LARP ran by Evan. Brittany, Evan’s sister, has a crush on Will but doesn’t know how to go about it. Arthur doesn’t want anything to mess up the game. Meanwhile, Shane is trying her best to mesh with the group. Inside the LARP, the band of heroes is tasked with protecting an artifact of immense power called the Eleventh Eye from falling into the wrong hands. Each episode starts with a word that is used in Role-playing, and that word is the central idea of the episode. This started a fun little side game of trying to see how each term would fit into each episode.

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The Good? LARPs is an expertly crafted experience. Right off the bat, I was getting “The Guild” flashbacks. Watching the way the game interacted with each of the character’s lives and watching how they, in turn, changed because of the characters they were playing was awesome. Being a tabletop gamer myself, I was able to relate to each of the characters. From Noctis’s self-preservation to Biff’s nonchalant additive I have seen it all.

The combat in LARPs is sharp and at some times brutal. These players are really getting tossed around and knocked off their feet. That just goes to show how committed they were to make this feel as authentic as possible. The outfits also look spectacular, and the music choices fit the mood perfectly. I actually added some of the tracks from the show to my personal playlist on Spotify.

Most importantly, these actors have amazing chemistry. From the verbal back and forth of Arthur and Evan to every Will one-liner, it feels like this group has known each other for a long time. It doesn’t feel overacted or blown out of proportion, it feels like your pals all hanging around and gaming on a Saturday night.

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The Bad? Because we are thrown into the middle of this world that is already in motion you kinda have to hit the ground running. In the first season, I had a harder than usual time trying to figure out how the characters knew each other. And certain guesses I had were only fully confirmed in the second season of the show.

Also, the main problem of the show doesn’t get reviled to the very end of the last episode of the first season, which kinda made it less impactful. Since you are able to jump right into season two right after watching season one it isn’t that bad anymore but at the time it just threw me off. Because of the way the show was going, it just felt shoehorned in at the end instead of getting the proper attention it deserved. It would have had a greater effect if it would have been hinted at a little better earlier.

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Why You Should Watch It? All in all, LARPs in an amazing series.The onscreen combat between the characters is fantastic and a welcome treat. LARPs is well written, well acted, and contains a storyline that can be enjoyed by all. 4.5/5

Review: Lovesick (Scrotal Recall)

What Is “Scrotal Recall” About? I know, i know, it sounds worst than it actually is. Netflix has the weird habit of having amazing television hidden in plain sight. On this instance i was laying in bed when I got the email from Netflix. “New Shows You Might Like: Scrotal Recall…”. Scrotal Recall? You mean the Recall of your Scrotum? Who the hell made this show? Naturally, I had to find out.

Dylan is diagnosed with chlamydia and must then contact all of his previous sexual partners to inform them that he has the disease. Dylan’s best friends are Luke, the womanizer, playboy who thinks with the wrong head, and Evie, who for years has harbored a secret crush on Dylan but has now moved on and has become recently engaged. The majority of each episode of the show is told through a flashback, showing Dylan’s generally unsuccessful encounters with a number of women. Right off of the bat this show surprised me with its wit. Yes, it has the sexual jokes and innuendos but the plot lines tend to take a turn in fresh and interesting ways.

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The Good? Surprisingly, this show isn’t all that bad. In fact, for a romantic comedy, it is extremely well acted and though out. for the most part these types of show like to rest on certain tropes and character types but this show blows all of them out of the water. Because of the situation Dylan is in he is forced to reexamine the relationships of his past and see how they are doing in the future. This brings a certain dual layer to the show because we get to see how far all the characters have come.

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The Bad? Because the show is only 6 episodes long the plot doesn’t really get taken care of. He only gets to 6 of the more than 20 women on his list of calls he has to make and he never finds out who gave him the STD in the first place. The show kinda ignores that plot to favor the Dylan/Evie will they won’t they angle and I wish it would have kept to the prior. It was very interesting meeting all of the different woman and seeing the effect they had on Dylan’s life. Given 6-12 more episodes this show could have really shined.

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Why You Should Watch It? “Scrotal Recall” is interesting, fresh, and a great take on the romantic comedy genre. Because the show is mostly out of order it provides and abstract view into the line of a 20 something who is just trying to figure out who he wants to be with.

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What Would You Rate It? 4.5/5

Review: Vixen

What Is “Vixen” About? When Mari McCabe returns to Detroit after searching for information on her birth parents, she ends up in jail for stabbing a potential employer in the hand with a pen. Her foster father Chuck posts her bail, and the two are confronted in an alley by some thugs looking to take Mari’s Tantu Totem, which she inherited from her birth parents at a young age. Using the Totems magical abilities Mari defeats the thugs and saves herself and her stepdad, which puts her on the radar of The Arrow and The Flash.

This series takes place some time in season three of Arrow and Season 1 of Flash so there is not spoilage here. In fact, those characters take a back burner to the real plot, finding out who Mari really is.

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The Good? The action is fast paced and the character references are both welcomed and enjoyable. It was good to see our heroes play off each other like in the comic books. Mari is a believable character whose actions most of the time mimic my own. There was even one scene where she did exactly what I was thinking as I thought it, which is refreshing considering they could have made her stale and boring.

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The Bad? The plot was kinda meh. I understand that they had to do the whole backstory approach because she isn’t a well know character but it just seemed really slow. The story doesn’t really pick up until episode 5, and ends promptly on episode 6. Speaking of episodes, the length was ridiculously short. I would have liked to see Vixen in action a little bit more, maybe even teaming up with The Arrow and The Flash.

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Why You Should Watch It? “Vixen” is an enjoyable story about a character who really isn’t touched on a lot. If you were looking for some variety in you superhero shows than look no further. Its a personal story, and its short, but the experience is worth it.

What Would You Rate It? 5/5