‘Phil’s Quick Capsule Review’ (a nod to legendary comedian Bill Hicks who coined the phrase when he reviewed ‘Piece Of Shit’ movie Basic Instinct)… where a perfect 10 is rarer than a rain free British summer!
Written by Phil Hobden – UK based podcaster, writer and former filmmaker. Part of the All Things Film network…
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Here Alone is a tense post apocalyptic thriller with some seriously dark twists and turns that manages to side step its obvious budget limitations for some incurably tense and atmospheric moments. Yes it’s a bit overlong and repetitive but it mostly manages to be predictable and that goes a long way to helping you overlook some of the weaker elements. Well worth checking out.
Best Bit: Into the house
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream (Netflix)
If You Liked this Try: 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, Maggie
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Day of the Dead: Bloodline isn’t quite as bad as I expected. A “remake” of sorts of Romero’s superior Day Of The Dead, Bloodline suffers from a bad script, poor technical elements and weak acting. It feels low budget. That said where the money has gone shows – the effects are very good and actually at times even better than those on The Walking Dead (itself a rotting corpse of the show it used to be). Those not precious about seeing Romero’s films remade may get a little out of this but at the same time theres very little new here.
Best Bit: The Effects
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream
If You Liked this Try: Day Of The Dead, Dawn of The Dead, 28 Days Later
2017 continued TV’s dominance over film. With new shows launching almost weekly on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime it was hit after hit with shows like Glow breaking new ground (well kinda) and the old guard like The Leftovers and Game Of Thrones hitting to put the park. Here’s my lost and the 5 best and The Worst TV shows of 2017…
(Yet to watch Narcos Season 3 or Punisher)
TV Show of The Year: Billions In Brief: Season 1 of Billions was good but didn’t hit “great” for me. Yet Season 2, playing like a suped up cross between Wolf Of Wall Street and Boiler Room just knocked it out the park and then some. Pacier, sharper and rounded, Billions just threw out great episode after great episode and did something really special – made an unlikeable lead character into someone you DIDN’T want to lose.
2. Game Of Thrones In Brief: It’s second to last season Game Of Thrones upped the pace, threw in some major events and introduced the theory of “jet packing”. In truth it didn’t matter. Whilst the storytelling has diminished the action, pace and fun has increased making for a breathtaking run. Oh and THAT ending. Just wow.
3. Stranger Things In Brief: Season 2 fell SLIGHTLY short of Season 1. But that still makes it one of the best shows on TV. With more characters, more back story and more episodes Stranger Things suffered a little from not being as tight as it was last year but by upping the horror it was for sure scarier than ever.
4. The Leftovers In Brief: For a show I quit in Series 1, it’s pretty amazing to have the show end as one of my favourites of the year. But on the back of a knockout season 2, Season 3 pulled it all together in a surreal, confusing and often oblique way. No clear answers were given but there was enough threads to draw conclusions. Beautiful, clever and frustrating.
5. Silicon Valley In Brief: Into its fourth year, Mike Judge’s tech comedy continued it’s impressive recent run with another constant and entertaining season. Whether it can maintain next year with the loss of TJ Miller is another question but for now it’s still one of the best shows on TV.
Bubbling under: Veep (funny as ever), Better Call Saul (captivating stuff) Fear The Walking Dead (now MUCH stronger than The Walking Dead), Mindhunter (Top Notch stuff from David Fincher), House Of Cards (Bloody good, even with all the issues), Line Of Duty (Proving the UK can still smash it out the park), GLOW (brilliant fun), American Gods (Insane), Star Trek Discovery (the makings of something special), American Horror Story Cult (One of the strongest season yet)
Miss of the year: The Walking Dead
In Brief: Second year running! Falling from one of the best shows on TV at its height, The Walking Dead has been on a massive decline the past two seasons which culminated with a recent run of episodes that took on and then royally botched the All out War Arc from the graphic novels. Add to that the recent ‘death’ of a major character (which would have meant MUCH more if it had been earnt), some terrible editing and increasingly poor production values (save for the VFX) and you have a show so far from it’s good days that it mostly now exists to be ‘hate’ watched.
Shame because in the right hands this show could have been unstoppable.
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Shot Caller is a genuinely great direct to DVD thriller that happily dispenses with a lot of prison and DTV action cliches, instead utilising it’s impressive cast (including The Walking Dead Star Jon Bernthal, Lake Bell and Jeffery Donovan to name but three) to deliver a taught, tense thriller that delivers some hardcore violence and some brutal story choices. This is a top notch direct to DVD effort that, if there was any justice in the world, would be playing on a big screen over some of the tat thats been out over the past year. A must see.
Best Bit: Showdown
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream
If You Liked this Try: Walking Tall, Felon, Universal Solider: Day Of Reckoning
As death continues it’s relentless march through the gifted and talented of TV and film, My Favourite… celebrates those we have lost by taking a look at a slice of their best work. Well sometimes best, sometimes just the one I like the most.
This time out: My Favourite…. George A. Romero (1940-2017) Film
DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)
Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments; much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker.
Whilst Night of The Living Dead created the sub genre and Dawn Of The Dead cemented Romero’s subversive world view, for me it was always Day of The Dead that showed me what society would become should the apocalypse ever break out. It’s a brutal, nihilistic film with little hope or joy. People die, the zombies win, humanity falls apart. It was obsessed with this film. Mix in some of the best practice effects i’d ever seen in a horror movie (Tom Savini take a bow) and a quotable script and you have one of the boldest, darkest films of the 80’s. In later years Romero failed to come even close to this trilogy but even all these years later they and their influence hold up.
See also: Dawn Of The Dead, Night of The Living Dead
So 2016 continued the golden age of television, outstripping it’s movie counterparts and delivering more essential must see content than any other medium: even with so many great shows either ended or in their twilight years. So here’s my run down of my 5 favourite TV show for 2016… with a few nearly rans for good measure.
(Yet to watch Narcos Season 2 or Luke Cage)
TV Show of The Year: Westworld In Brief: With a Nolan attached, THAT Cast and all the money HBO could throw at it Westworld could still have been a catastrophic flop BUT it wasn’t. In fact it was revolutionary. Yes Westworld is THAT good. From it’s complex plotting to it’s cinematic visuals, Westworld was a remake done right. It’s just a sham we have to wait until 2018 to get the next part of the story…
2. Stranger Things In Brief: Every so often a show or film comes from nowhere and captures the imagination of a generation, becoming a cultural phenomena along the way. Stranger Things was THAT show. The Spielberg/ Carpenter influenced style reminded everyone who lived through the 80’s how good the decade was (and how ripe it is for material like this), whilst the narrative, effects and performances kept people coming back for more. With Season 2 production started, the Duffer’s have a mountain to climb to reach these heights again.
3. Game Of Thrones In Brief: Once again hitting the Top 5, Thrones continues to be one of the best things on TV and season 6 was a real highlight. From the reuniting of certain siblings, to the death of one of the most hated characters in the show Thrones stepped outside the constraints of its source material, picked up the pace, delivered several WFT moments and gave us a view on the future to come. In short: Winter is coming. And so are Dragons
4. The People Vs OJ Simpson: American Crime Story In Brief:Who saw that coming? A TV recreation of one of America’s most infamous trials starring a forgotten DTV Oscar winner alongside John Travolta and Ross from Friends, from the guy who made American Horror Story? It couldn’t work. But it did. In spades. And man was it good, delivering one of the best episodes of TV in 2016. Gooding Jnr delivered as the narcissistic OJ but it was Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark that stole the show. If you missed it then you missed out for sure.
5. Silicon Valley In Brief: Into it’s third year, Mike Judge’s tech comedy delivered it’s most constant and entertaining year to date. Yes it’s throw away stuff but it’s damn funny with it. It’s also sharp as a tack satire on the stupidity and excess of the Tech hub of the world with a convincing cast and cracking scripts.
Bubbling under: Jessica Jones (another high quality Netflix/ Marvel TV show), High Maintenance (as surreal as comedy gets), Vice Principals (biting dark comedy), Veep (continued to graft another strong year), The Night Of (Started well, dropped of a bit by the end), Better Call Saul (even stronger than last year), The Flash (ended season 2 strong and began Season 3 with a bang), Ash Vs The Evil Dead (still delivering)
Miss of the year: The Walking Dead
In Brief: It wasn’t a BIG miss but the let down of Season 6’s ending (yes THAT cliff-hanger) after the Glenn fake out followed by a mostly lacklustre Season 7 so far has, for the first time, left me loosing a little interest in Rick and his crew. The show is far from done for sure and there are still some great ideas and moments (Negan when used correctly is awesome) in it but overall it’s lost something this year and could be the sign that the shows lack of end game is starting to bite them.
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Wow. So that delivered.
Okay so like most I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending of season 6. The cliffhanger worked but just wasn’t needed. They could have easily ended on Abraham buying it then opened on Glenn’s death. The surprise would have been FAR more effective, BUT that said man this episode was tense. Negan is just as chilling on screen as he is on the page and Glenn’s death was a massive surprise coming after the much more predictable death of Abraham (and delivered even with popping eyeball as per the comic).
Stylistically it may not be to everyone’s taste how the deaths were presented (we ended up waiting near 20 mins to find out who died in the end) BUT for me the focus on Rick and Negan’s desire to break him like a wild dog was FAR more important than a (well than TWO) gimmick deaths. Part of me kind of wished they went through with the hand (a nice echo to the comics) but by that point it would have just been over kill.
So superb effects, a tense as hell episode with a major surprise… this was a damn fine episode. Let’s hope the rest of the season delivers…
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: The Ford Brothers The Dead was most interesting for it’s African setting. Taking a ‘If It ‘Aint Broke…’ approach, The Dead 2 is essentially the same film but in India with a better lead but less appealing support cast and a pace that, at best, could be described as pedestrian. In fact, in a post Walking Dead world, it’s hard to see what a slow paced, mostly gore less film that struggles to have more than a handful of Zombies onscreen at once offers as it’s USP other than it’s setting. Sadly other than lead Millson, the cast are forgettable and lack chemistry. It’s not all bad – the film looks beautiful and the visual FX punch above their weight but other than that I can’t find much to recommend this.
Best Bit: The film is well shot
Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Borrow
If You Liked this Try: The Dead, Dawn of The Dead, The Walking Dead