Derry Girls (2018) – TV Review

Some people originally tried to pin this as just a ‘female Inbetweeners’ but as soon as it was aired, we saw it was much more. While it does contain some of the brilliant aspects of that show, it is also incredibly unique to its focus on a group of young (predominantly) girls growing up during ‘The Troubles’ in Derry.

This adds a historical and emotional backbone to the story, but the show is also non-stop laughs, with every character in the main cast being incredibly singular and hilarious in their own right.

The whole cast is superb, with particular stand outs for me being the live wire performance of Saoirse-Monica Jackson, the hilariously uptight Nicola Coughlan and the hilarious supporting turn from Ian McElhinney.

Writer Lisa McGee is detailing some of her own experiences and mixing them with fictional, and in doing so, she has created one of the finest comedy shows of the past decade.

Rating = 4.5/5

Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II (2020) – TV Review

This six part documentary looks at the behind the scenes making of the biggest animated film of all time, ‘Frozen II’.

However, unlike Disney Plus’ other behind the scenes series ‘Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian’ this is a proper documentary that tracks all the members of cast and crew from start to end of this project, as opposed a retrospective talk, and even though that was interesting, this is much better.

The unprecedented access to the process and input from all the different members of the crew gives us a brilliant idea of all the wide ranging aspects that go into the making of an animated film of this scale, and it gives people the respect they deserve.

It’s also fascinating to see how kind and warm an environment Jennifer Lee has built at Disney Animation and how even the biggest starts treat the lower level staff with such respect, that it makes everyone feel valued and therefore create a better product.

There were some unexpectedly emotional aspects too, including co-director Chris Buck discussing the loss of his son and how he is incorporated into ‘Frozen II’ and Jennifer Lee discussing her life as a working single mother.

Overall, I just really found this illuminating and now I am able to understand the process even better than I did before, I respect the movie even more.

This should be a way forward for Disney Plus and series’ like this should be made for all there major projects, including the future Marvel and Star Wars entries.

Rating = 4/5

About Time (2013) – Review

A Universal Picture, Written and Directed By Richard Curtis.

Richard Curtis, the legendary writer behind hits like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘Love Actually’, brings us another romance, this time with a time travelling twist.

It’s worth noting up front that I do find it problematic how Gleeson’s character goes back in time whenever (for most of the film) to make his relationship with McAdams’ character better, without her ever knowing. They clearly love and are great for each other anyway, but her lack of knowledge of the situation is an issue.

However, all the character are well meaning and kind people that we root for, and that’s mainly due to the lead performances.

Gleeson is a very strong screen presence but I didn’t think he shone particularly here, but he does a decent job. McAdams on the other hand is a delight and is so effortlessly charming, with great comedic timing and emotion bubbling under the surface. She’s a gem.

The supporting cast all round is so strong here, with great work from the likes of Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander, Lindsay Duncan, Vanessa Kirby, Lydia Wilson, Richard E. Grant, and Richard Griffiths, and all their contributions, big or small, really help the film rise above any shortcomings.

The film is also Margot Robbie’s first major movie appearance, in a supporting role where she is essentially only used as a distraction to the lead due to her stunning looks, but thankfully her career took off later this year in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and we were all able to see what an incredible talent she is.

The film has little interesting in the sci-fi elements or exploring butterfly effects of time travel, and is much more focused on the emotional impact it can have on the individual, and while I would’ve liked to see the concept explored a bit more, this is never what this film was about.

‘About Time’ is such a sincere and heartwarming movie that you are mostly able to put the problems to aside and enjoy it on its own merits, especially with such a strong Rachel McAdams performance.

Rating = 3/5

The Salisbury Poisonings (2020) – TV Review

Based on the shocking true events, this three part mini-series has proved a ratings sensation for the BBC (partly due to more people being home) and it is fully deserved. It takes fascinating and complex events in Salisbury in 2018 and turns it into really compelling TV.

It’s something I still struggle to understand why it isn’t a bigger deal to the general public (maybe because little is actually known about what happened) but only two year ago Russia deployed a weapon of mass destruction on British soil, resulting in the death of a British citizen, and little happened as a consequence.

The cast is really good, with Anne-Marie Duff in particular shining as a very normal person put into a very un-normal situation, and being responsible for the lives of thousands.

The actions the authorities took to quickly lock the situation down and save thousands of lives is slightly sad to watch now we know just two years later the utter incompetence that the government would deal with the Corona Virus pandemic, but the local authorities of Salisbury are undoubted heroes.

I feel like there’s more to this story but the show is firmly focused on the town and it’s ordinary people, and it really effectively tells all the sides of that story.

Rating = 4/5

Unprecedented (2020) – TV Review

Now we are over 3 months in to the ‘lockdown’ due to Covid-19, a few more shows filmed in that period are popping up, and this is one of them.

This is multiple short stories filmed over zoom, with an array of famous British actors taking on the roles and I have to applaud everyone involved for the ting their best to provide the public with content during this time.

However, unlike ‘Staged’ or ‘Talking Heads’, this isn’t a comedic look at the situation or filmed in lockdown content that doesn’t relate to the current situation, it is multiple dramas about the very real struggles we are all going through right now.

While it doesn’t accurately portray those emotions, it’s too raw and too current to people’s pain for us to want to see a depressing show about it, and that’s why it fails.

I give everyone involved credit for trying but it’s simply too soon.

Rating = 3/5

Royalties (2020) – TV Review

This is the last show I have to watch before my 3 month Quibi subscription ends, and while I won’t be renewing to the paid option, I don’t dislike the service quite as much as many others.

I simply don’t think the format works or is the way forward that we want to forge, and while the content they have made is far from top quality, it is mostly enjoyable light entertainment, and this is the same.

It doesn’t reach the heights of ‘Dummy’ or ‘The Stranger’ and it’s certainly not the low point that ‘Kirby Jenner’ was, but it’s simply Darren Criss getting some famous friends along for the ride to make some funny songs and parody the song writing industry.

There’s not much more to say about the show really. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but if you’re looking for a light show to kill some time and leave you with some catchy tunes in your head, this could be the one.

Rating = 2.5/5

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