Black Mirror: Season 1 Review/Thoughts

black-mirror-logoI love short stories. Because it tells stories in small, quick bursts that allow a person to quickly get a hold of what a story wants to confront. Be it a romance, a story about two quarreling lovers, or a future dystopia – short stories can create a premise and quickly fill it in, confronting a major social or political issue, or to reach out and pull some heart strings.

However, personally, I’ve (poorly) written some of my own short stories, dealing with darker premises and so, it delighted me quickly when I finally started watching Black Mirror on Netflix. After hearing a lot of good things about it, I dug out some free time and got to watching. And I instantly fell in love with it for its almost r/writingprompts style of storytelling.

So, without further ado, let’s just talk about it for a while and review the entire first season without spoiling anything much.

Season 1, Episode 1: The National Anthem

Rating 7.5/10. This was very interesting when I first saw it as it was a political-ish episode. The premise being the prime minister of the state (akin to the power held by the president in the USA) has to commit a lewd sexual act on live TV to appease the kidnapper of the beloved princess of the Royal Family so she’d be returned unharmed.

The whole issue is wondering whether the prime minister would concede to the request and actually do it to save the princess or let her die. Although there were many issues being addressed, I think the important message was to the people within the governments of our current society. A lot of power dynamics are also explored within the story, especially when the deadline was to be met.

In the end, it was a strong start for a series that hoped to deal with this kind of smaller, hour-long or so episodes and this first episode caught my attention for sure.

Season 1: Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits

Rating: 8.5/10. This story was, truth be told, confusing to me at first. Initially, the synopsis told me it was about a girl who enters a singing competition to escape a slave-like existence but when I watched it through, it became much clearer.

I applaud this episode for using its technological dystopian future to tell a story where humans are akin to mere batteries at the lower half of society, cycling on a ‘exercise bike’ like machine to power the technology for others in the upper half, where they are mostly celebrities. And after the main character heard the aforementioned girl in the synopsis did the story come to light… and it was somewhat hard to watch.

A story about the deconstruction of society and how we consume media and how much we are shaped by it is truly discomforting really, reflecting on how much of it IS already permeating through our own pop culture and mainstream media. It provoked a lot more thought than the previous episode because it really confronted the viewer and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

It was the longest of the 3 episodes in the first season, but I enjoyed the use of the technology premise in telling a story.

Season 1: Episode 3: The Entire History of You

Rating: 10/10. This story hit me a lot harder than it should have. It’s a story in which the premise is just ‘society but in the near future’, where everyone is now implanted with a chip that can record all memories that you experience and allow you to relive them like a video at any time.

The story focuses on a man and his wife and a house party they attended. The guy sees a man his wife talks to during the party and it became a story about the suspicious husband and affairs.

It hit me like a truck after watching it for 2 distinct reasons:

  1. Anyone can relate to how much they’d focus on the great memories in their life by recording them on cameras, their phones, and more. That is the result of our social media-centric times and it is horrifying because this technology feels like the one that could most likely happen in the not-so-distant future.
  2. The story of the couple between the husband and his wife is something happening now and it is very sad when two lovers have to confront one another about possible affairs. And yet, anyone can watch this and relate to it very very well.

And once again, the episode really made great use of its technology introduced in the story and uses it as a reflection for our society and it really tugged at my heart uncomfortably but in a good way.

Conclusion

I merely shared a lot of my thoughts/first impressions because a lot of Black Mirror’s strength lies in getting the audience to relate to the story so opinions will differ. Of course, this is all just the first season yet it has gripped by interest so I’ll be here and continuing to watch.

So, I won’t dress my review up but instead ask for you to watch it and judge it for yourselves and to let this be less like a review and more of a recommendation for a wonderful series on Netflix. Until next time!

 

Sherman

Images taken from: https://www.horrornewsnetwork.net/netflix-announces-black-mirror-season-four-episodes-cast-teaser-trailer/

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Circle: A Film Review

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Indie films have always taken a weird spot in my heart, always appears with great concepts for the film but lacking in its budget and sometimes failing in its execution. The last time I talked about an indie film on this blog was actually a few months back when I reviewed Personal Shopper. And that was a prime example of this perception of mine.

But when executed well, where the filmmaker is able to grasp the core idea of its concept using the limited budget an indie film usually is stuck with, it creates a beautiful story that can be excellent and refreshing to see.

Unfortunately, Circle is a film that tried but just comes up short and we can take a look into why.

Disclaimer: SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Death Note (2017): A Film Review

I should have heeded the warnings of reviews that were out at the time. But I decided to ignore them, and see for myself if it was as bad as they say it is. I thought that no matter how bad the reviews claim Death Note (2017) was, it would have some redeemable parts.

I was horribly wrong.

That video is probably close enough to describe how I felt towards the Netflix film. It is neither a good adaptation of the manga or anime of the same name nor a good movie on its own merits. If you want a more in-depth review, then read on, brave reader.

DISCLAIMER: SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Thelma & Louise – Feminism in Film done right?: An Opinion Piece

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This past week, I’d gotten the honor to catch the cult classic road trip film, Thelma & Louise at the recent Films At The Fort event (which BTW is an awesome annual event at Fort Canning) and the idea of writing a review came about.

However, that idea was canned almost immediately. Why? Because the film’s writing helped develop our lead characters so well in an environment where we are screaming for stronger female leads. The movie gives us strong justifications for their actions, explain their surprisingly human motivations, and *gasp* create strong female characters the audience could get behind.

And in a world where Ghostbusters (2017) exists, let’s take the time to discuss why I feel Hollywood can take a page out of Thelma & Louise‘s playbook in creating strong female characters. Let’s take a look!

Spoilers Ahead!!

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Okja: A Film Review

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There’s a fear among the people of the world. It started from our ever-growing population and the needs that comes with it. We started to ask: “how do we feed all of the people?” and “is there enough food in the world?”. Scientists stepped up and gave us food enhanced with the power of science.

Then we all started to question: “is this food safe?”, “does it harm the natural environment that it grows in?”, “does it have side effects?” and much more. Soon, we all wanted to eat naturally grown food again. But today, we’re not here to discuss the idea of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) but the movie that is based on a concept on that idea of consumption of GMOs.

Okja is a film that takes the idea of a GM pig and the story of a farm girl who hasn’t seen much outside of her own backyard (a huge one, btw!) and creates a bittersweet tale about the two and the trials they go through. Is it any good? Let’s dive in and find out.

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Wu Kong 悟空传 (2017): A Movie Review

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Journey to the West, or 西游记 in Mandarin, is an extremely popular folktale. It has a long history of being adapted for both TV and movies and has even been an inspiration for several video games such as 2003’s Between Good and Evil and 2010’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. And since it has stayed within the public domain for such a long time, the character Sun Wukong, the Great Sage That Equals Heaven, has also been appearing in video games unrelated to the stories such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and even in Warriors Orochi, a spin-off series that mixes the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchises.

The point is that the story has seen so many remakes that it’s pretty much ‘remade’ every few years or so due to its popularity and Sun Wukong has appeared all over popular media. Is Wu Kong (2017) a good retelling of the well-known story? Let’s find out.

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Spider-Man VS Spider-Man vs Spider-Man: An Opinion Piece

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I was contemplating writing a review for Spider-Man: Homecoming just days after watching the film but it’s already garnered the praise that it deserves (awesome movie BTW!).

But there’s a battle that’s not being shown that is actually going on for a while now, and while that fight does include Spider-Man, it’s not him facing off anyone from his rogue gallery but instead, it’s a fight between Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland. And in this opinion piece, it’s time to share my pick and justify why!

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Midde-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – A Game Review

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This will be my first foray into reviewing games. I have covered video games in one of my older opinion pieces but it was barely scratching the surface and revolved around the storytelling tools that video games could have through its gameplay mechanics.

For this review, I’ll be covering a game I recently played a full play-through of in light of its sequel being announced, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, and is the first in its series, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. So let’s dive right in.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead!

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The Mummy (2017): A Film Review

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And so it begins… the first film in Universal Studio’s Dark Universe franchise, the 2017’s The Mummy, a remake of the 1999 film that starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. While the original was a strange but somewhat effective mix of horror, comedy, adventure and corny one-liners, the 2017 remake kind of tries to do the same but takes its own twists.

It’s been a while since I last saw Tom Cruise star in a bad film, but I guess no actor or actress will be able to escape from having a few bad films under his or her belt. Remakes tend to do much more poorly than its original and it did not help that it was released during the week Wonder Woman was also released. But let’s dive in to see what it’s about, shall we?

Disclaimer: SPOILERS AHEAD!!

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Resident Evil: Damnation: A Film Review

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Ahh.. Resident Evil aka RE. One of the most beloved franchises in gaming history that revolutionized the Survival Horror genre hasn’t done as well when we look at its film counterparts (arguably, the games have also sucked since RE4 but hey, that’s not what this article wants to discuss). The live-action films were… mediocre at best, mostly action films that took inspiration from the source material and left me always desiring for more.

But the live-actions lacked one very important thing: character. And that’s where the story from the games deliver well (once again, let’s focus on RE 1-4 for discussion’s sake).

Then I met this gem of an animated film: Resident Evil: Damnation.

And I fell in love. It was like watching a cutscene compilation of whatever the characters from the games would do, such as crazy feats of slaying zombies and saving the world from B.O.W.s (Bio-Organic Weapons) once more, along with the campiness the series was known to have from the original games. So what did it do well? Let’s take a look.

DISCLAIMER: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!

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