September and October’s cinema viewing consists of Thor: Ragnarok. TV has reigned supreme recently, having watched: Mindhunter, Cold Feet, Tin Star, Stranger Things and The Defenders.
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Anthony Hopkins
Best: The characters and Waititi’s humour. Korg (you gem), Skurge’s intro, Loki is back and better than ever and Thor is, finally, the shining star of his own films. Hemsworth shows his comedic chops to great effect and its a shame its taken this long to discover his, and Thor’s, full potential.
Worst: While not quite falling into the “bad villain problem” of the MCU, Hela is the least interesting of the characters; however, she does have a few standout moments. The Warriors Three are also, annoyingly, overlooked.
Verdict: No Thor film should ever be made again without Waititi at the helm. His humour and quirkiness is the perfect fit for the silliest of Avengers. Beautifully directed and refusing to take itself too seriously; Thor: Ragnarok is a fun-filled, colourful and offbeat love letter to Jack Kirby. One of the best Marvel films ever.
Created by: Joe Penhall
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv, Cotter Smith, Cameron Britton
Best: Groff and McCallany. Brilliant separately but even better together. Their chemistry and differing ideals make for an odd, yet somehow perfectly suited duo. The show’s standout, however, is Cameron Britton as serial killer, Edmund Kemper. He is truly terrifying, fascinating and can’t-look-away brilliant. A performance so captivating it will, of course, be ignored come awards seasons.
Worst: Hannah Gross as Holden Ford’s girlfriend, Debbie. Unnecessary, at times irritating, and ultimately a distraction from the main story.
Verdict: Proving to be incredibly Fincheresque, Mindhunter is a brilliant portrait of the two founders of the Behavioural Analyst Unit and an insightful and horrifying look into a killer’s mind. One of the best shows of the year.
Stranger Things (S2)
Created by: The Duffer Brothers
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser, Brett Gelman
Best: Oh, where to start? The Steve and Dustin bromance. Newcomers: Gelman, Reiser and Astin, especially, are wonderful. The Snow Ball. Lucas’ sister, Erica. Hopper is still greatest.
Worst: Billy Hargrove. Sadly a one-dimensional “villain” and, while I did enjoy episode 7 for Eleven’s character development, it did disrupt the pacing of the show.
Verdict: The show has resisted the temptation of turning Hopper into a flawless hero; he’s still cantankerous and kinda sucks as a father figure but, in Harbour’s very capable hands, he remains the show’s best and most lovable character. The acting is still superior to most shows on television and Schnapp greatly impresses as the increasingly distressed Will Byers. Excellent pacing, humour, pop culture references and character development confirms the magic of Stranger Things has yet to wear off.
Cold Feet (S7)
Created by: Mike Bullen
Starring: James Nesbitt, Robert Bathurst, Hermione Norris, John Thomson, Fay Ripley, Leanne Best
Best: Nesbitt, Bathurst, Thomson, Ripley, Best and Norris, especially. Also, the handling of the teenage pregnancy.
Worst: Pete and Jen’s marriage troubles. Felt very repetitive as we’ve seen it before between the two.
Verdict: Season 7 has been an emotional rollercoaster, dealing with teenage pregnancies, sex tapes, marriage woes and adultery. After having doubts about the return of the show, I’m happy to say the warmth and heart of Cold Feet is still there. There is such nostalgia at seeing the gang back together again and the line between comedy and drama is, as always, deftly walked. Striking a perfect balance, this season has been an absolute joy to watch.
Tiin Star (S1)
Created by: Rowan Joffe
Starring: Tim Roth, Genevieve O’Reilly, Abigail Lawrie, Christina Hendricks, Christopher Heyerdahl, Ryan Kennedy, Sarah Podemski
Best: Tim Roth. Roth is an actor who can elevate any material and Tin Star is no exception. He portrays the brooding and tortured detective Jim Worth perfectly. Also, the Canadian Rockies looks stunning.
Worst: There are certain aspects of the plot that scream “we’ve seen this a million times before.”
Verdict: A slightly uneven cat-and-mouse thriller which attempts to echo Fargo; however, Roth’s presence and Hendricks’ wonderfully icy performance raise Tin Star to an intensely enjoyable and twisted melodrama.
The Defenders (S1)
Created by: Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez
Starring: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, Eka Darville, Elden Henson, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Ramón Rodríguez, Rachael Taylor, Deborah Ann Woll, Élodie Yung, Rosario Dawson, Scott Glenn, Sigourney Weaver
Best: The Defenders coming together, Episode 3 and 4 specifically. Their chemistry and banter is wonderful and generates much excitement. The show is at its best when they’re together on-screen. Sigourney Weaver is also fantastic as the mysterious Alexandra.
Worst: The Hand are still dull. It also takes too long for the team to form. Even at eight episodes, there is still a slight narrative drag.
Verdict: It’s far from perfect but there is so much thrill and excitement at seeing these characters finally share the screen.
– Lorna C.