Darcy Kelly, Charlie Maris and Gareth David
As a slight twist on last year’s ‘New Releases Roundup’ column, the Reviews section are running a series of articles reviewing new seasons that have been released of established TV shows and film series. Darcy Kelly, Charlie Maris and Gareth David have reviewed highly popular releases – we hope you enjoy!
The Crown – Season Five
Great anticipation was built for the new season of The Crown, set to cover the most controversial recent years for the House of Windsor. However, the fifth season is boring and disappointing, showing a drastic drop in quality compared to the show’s earlier seasons.
Most obviously, the casting of Dominic West as Prince Charles and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip does not work. West is simply too handsome and naturally charismatic to play Charles, and Pryce fails to capture the cheeky, sarcastic Philip the UK is familiar with. This creates the feeling that Netflix went for a famous cast over one that fit.
This season rarely strays from the War of the Wales’
Also, the metaphors of the Gunpowder Plot as Diana’s Panorama interview, and the aging Royal Britannia as the Queen, are shoved down watchers’ throats to the point it is irritating. Moreover, what made the earlier seasons of The Crown so interesting was their focus on the social issues of the UK, and the struggle of lesser-known royals, whereas this season rarely strays from the War of the Wales’. And, like many high budget shows, it falls into the trap of having better cinematography than writing. Darcy Kelly
The White Lotus – Season Two
Following on from the comedic brilliance of Season One, The White Lotus has travelled to Sicily, and has only grown stronger with a new set of characters.
While it’s premise of ‘murder mystery in attractive location’ may sound well-worn, this is more a vehicle for Mike White’s brilliant writing, than the plot’s driving force. Mike White, the creator and writer of the show, has managed to develop characters who are both complex and stimulating, but who you can instantly get a grasp of.
You soak into this luxuriously shot location
The White Lotus is a five-star resort for the super-rich, who expect all their wants and needs to be met. The inventive joy this show brings is in simply watching these so-called ‘elite’ individuals with all their particular neuroses and personality archetypes, reacting off each other. While watching, you soak into this luxuriously shot location, while the characters neediness and social difficulties ensure they never can.
Two couples in Season Two, particularly Aubrey Plaza and Theo James, masterfully represent the two disparate strands of the American elite. Watching The White Lotus feels like a satisfying and sumptuous meal, where you can laugh for once at the flaws of the upper class. Charlie Maris
Black Pantha: Wakanda Forever
The heart of Marvel’s movie success comes down to having characters on screen that audiences can empathise with. This was epitomised by Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’challa: The Black Panther and his role in, arguably, Marvel’s most culturally important film. Sadly, Boseman lost his battle with cancer, and the grief felt for such a genuinely loved person endures still.
Wakanda Forever faced the monumental struggle to create a story where T’challa has died, in a universe where gods and monsters frequently ignore the rules of reality, and death is never really an end. However, director/co-writer Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole chose the only route really open to them, and opted to recognise the grief and loss we were all experiencing, and this is one of the films greatest strengths.
Easter eggs, new characters, and referencing the wider cinematic universe
Bookended by two beautiful tributes to Boseman, the film shows how grief affects the characters, and Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Ramonda (Angela Bassett) give some of the film’s most powerful performances when they are dealing with their loss. The villain Namor (an intense Tenoch Huerta) is an amazing adaption from the comic book, having a legitimate sense of history with the Mesoamerican style. The film does feel very busy, having to fill in the standard Marvel tick list of easter eggs, new characters, and referencing the wider cinematic universe. Much of the padding with S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives feels jarring and forced, rather than a natural part of the story.
The film does an amazing job of presenting real grief in an unreal world. A little slow at times with some unnecessary padding, Wakanda Forever is still a strong film, and a fitting love letter to Chadwick Boseman. Gareth David
Darcy Kelly, Charlie Maris and Gareth David
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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