Medici: Masters of Florence (2016)

I’m a firm believer in the fact that you have to give historical TV shows time to grow on you. They are about real people and despite their extraordinariness, they will never be able to provide as much suspense and action as films and shows which are purely fictional. Hence, I will give Medici: Masters of Florence another chance to fill the void left in my life by The Tudors. 

The show is very promising. Medici was a powerful dynasty, so a lot of drama should be involved – meaning that the writers hopefully won’t need to think of any unnecessary means to advance the plot. Also, the casting is quite a pleasant surprise including, for instance, Richard Madden.

What I didn’t like about the first episode were flashbacks (again!). The show takes time in the present days (that is – the 15th century present days) and 20 years in the past. And it’s terribly confusing! For me it’s quite hard to distinguish the male cast members in historical shows; add a few flashbacks and it becomes almost impossible – they all look the same! Secondly, the actors do not seem to age. Madden’s character looks the same in the present and those 20 years ago except for a shorter haircut and his wife looks exactly the same. It’s all nice and believable in the 21st cetury with the army of plastic surgeons we’re having, but, come on (!), people did age back in the 15th century.

However, as I already said – I will try to watch a couple more episodes before deciding whether I like this show or not. Historical and period dramas are my kryptonite and Medici has a huge potential to become an amazing show. Fingers crossed!

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The Light Between Oceans (2016)

I have been waiting for The Light Between Oceans for what seemed like forever. Was the film worth the wait? Yes, it was. It didn’t take my breath away, but it was a beautiful screen adaptation of an extremely emotional novel.

Firstly, the film had an amazing soundtrack that was present throughout the film. You know, dramas usually tend to be quite quiet – you can hear your neighbours munching on their popcorn or your stomach rumbling. Not with this film. Really, really well-chosen score! Secondly, the shots were gorgeous. Everything – the scenery, the angle of the camera, the colours – it was a pleasure to watch. You can say that this was a work of art, not just some blockbuster. Thirdly, at least for me, Vikander was the star of this film. Fassbender was handsome (without the moustache, of course) and their level of chemistry was over the roof (no wonder they became a couple in real life). However, Vikander’s acting was the one that made me feel as if someone had punched me in the gut. Oh, the emotions! And I want to mention the little girl who played their daughter – what an adorable child! I understand how hard it is to work with small children, but she was perfect. A new celebrity in the making, most probably.

To sum up, the film will give you all the feels. I have to admit that it is a bit slow, but it might be due to the fact that I had already read the book, so there were no surprises left for me. All in all, a beautiful film with a beautiful cast – it’s impossible to dislike it.

Westworld (2016)

Westworld is very confusing, but also very very interesting. It’s definitely not a show that you can put on in the background while doing other things, you have to follow it carefully; otherwise, you’ll get lost.

I’m not a fan of science fiction, there are only a few science fiction stories that I have enjoyed and also those have only had a few elements of sci-fi. What I look for in films and TV shows are human relations – what makes us tick and act the way we do, and these are rarely the main points of science fiction. However, Westworld surprised me. Its main focus is people (real or not real – that’s a different question), their action and behaviour.

Westworld also makes us think, at least it did that to me. For instance, about our reality – perhaps we are like these hosts – only here for the pleasure of some other civilization. Or, perhaps, in a few years the science will be able to provide these kinds of alternative realities for us. A fancier version of The Sims. So if you have a spare moment, find a quiet place and put on Westworld – even if the show won’t be to your taste, it will make you think and that’s a lot to ask of television.

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows is an entertaining film that doesn’t seem to have any ambition of being something else. Which is good.

Blake Lively is gorgeous, as always. However, I cannot avoid mentioning the fact that she could have probably worn a little less revealing bikini, but, hey, you have to attract the male audience in some way, right? And it wasn’t so annoying as in other action films where the main female character runs around scantily dressed – she was a surfer, so it can be forgiven. Actually, Blake did a nice job here. It was so easy to feel what she was feeling – fear, pain, hunger, thirst and also anger. The Shallows was a one (wo)man show and it managed to pull it off.

What I didn’t like was the ending. There were a few times when the film crossed the line into the ridiculous and unbelievable section, but the ending got the most of it. I simply didn’t and couldn’t believe it.

Nevertheless, it didn’t spoil the film. It was the perfect popcorn-crunching thriller that is engaging, but doesn’t leave a long-lasting impression. In short – a fun distraction.

 

Conviction (2016)

What I like about Conviction is the fact that it has a potential. The show doesn’t seem to have the most original concept and there’s no wow moment during the first episode (which is quite meek, to be honest), but it gives a few reasons to at least take a peek into the next episodes.

Firstly, the supporting characters are an interesting bunch. Each of them has a backstory and a drive for their future actions. Secondly, the main protagonist – Hayes, is perhaps the strongest female protagonist I have seen in the new shows this autumn. She has many flaws, but still appears a badass (reminded me a lot of Olivia Pope, but without the constant love torment). Thirdly,  finally (finally!) there’s a sexual tension between the characters. And I hope they will develop it into a good plotline. Do you hear me, writers? I’m counting on that! And, lastly, the soundtrack seems promising, which is important.

All in all, I have high hopes for Conviction. It has everything to become a great show – the cast, the plot, the characters and the music. I guess now we just have to wait and see where the show leads. Fingers crossed!

Designated Survivor (2016)

Designated Survivor started off with a bang – quite literally, but wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

It just seemed like a mix of various clichés we can expect from political dramas and thrillers. The ordinary guy becomes the leader. What a way to get a promotion, huh? He doesn’t really have any experience, but when the time comes to make an important speech or a decision, he nails it. He has the perfect family. Even though America has suffered a terrible attack, it will never be pushed down on its knees, since it is the greatest nation in the world, the eagle will be replaced, the flag will fly, the ruins will be rebuilt, etc.,etc., etc. I have nothing against the depiction of patriotism in art, but sometimes enough is enough. Or perhaps you have to be an American to be touched by it. And I don’t even want to speak about the fact that it’s Kiefer Sutherland who saves the day. Again! Why don’t we give the poor guy a break and put him in a comedy or something?

Despite my rant, the show isn’t that bad. If you like these kinds of shows (or Kiefer Sutherland) then you should give it a try. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Inferno (2016)

Even though this definitely is one of Brown’s weakest novels, Inferno seems to translate remarkably well on the big screen. It’s a rare case when the screen adaptation is better than the written work, so it comes as a pleasant surprise.

It might be due to the acting – Tom Hanks is wonderful and I couldn’t possibly imagine another Robert Langdon. There were numerous scenes where Langdon is physically unwell and they were portrayed in such a way that almost made me feel the same symptoms. A sign of how invested I was in the main character – I wasn’t simply viewing it from afar, I cared for him – and this, in my opinion, depends heavily on the acting. These films as such are mostly a one-man show (except the young and beautiful female sidekick Robert usually gets), so it’s up to Tom. Luckily this time there was no romance involved, I don’t view it as a spoiler, it just simply common sense on the part of the writers – enough is enough, he’s a professor, not some kind of a sugar daddy, for god’s sake!

The plot was a bit chaotic, especially the first half an hour – it was extremely nightmarish. However, I still blame the novel for this, the film tried its best to clean up the mess and deliver a fairly logical story.

All in all, Inferno is really enjoyable. It’s the same Dan Brown – so don’t expect many surprises, he still uses the same template for all of his works. But the end result is an entertaining action film, the kind that makes you forget yourself for a while and live only inside the film (which is rare as well) with good actors and lovely scenery of historical and cultural places. Certainly worth checking out.