Author Archives: Denis Barbov

Rajan might become a villain on Sense8

sense8

The cast of Sense8

After the gathering somewhat of a cult following, Sense8 got a second season, which is set to premiere in the summer of 2016, some rumours started floating around as production has started. The main two of which are that Rajan might become a villain and that there will be another cluster.

Sense8 is my favourite TV show, I have clearly stated it in my review, as well as on both Facebook and Twitter. I watched all episodes about 5 times each, forced my friends and family to watch it (most of them loved it), I consumed all the information there is about how it was made. This news, that Rajan might become a villain, is a bit worrisome for me. This might come back to bite me, but I don’t see how such a spoiled person can be a villain — I just can’t picture it. Sure, in his shoes I would also be angry if the girl I am supposed to be in love with fell for a guy only in her mind (not completely… you get what I mean), but I won’t have much do to. If she loves him — good for her, it’s her loss. Now, the Wachowski and Michael might surprise me and create a great villain, however, as of now, I can’t see how.

The creators of Sense8 -- Lara Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Michael Straczynski

The creators of Sense8 — Lara Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Michael Straczynski

“Not all Sense8s will be naturally good people. Some people with that ability might not be the best people. So there’s a whole range of them. Some of them will be more attuned to the commonality of being in a cluster, some will say, ‘I’m hiding out, don’t reveal me’ – the value of not being seen.”

The other news that has been verified by the creators themselves is that there will be a new cluster. This I am all for. More than once did I ask myself whether people born on dates other than August 8th could have a connection, it’s only logical they are, and my suspicions are proven correct. I am also interested in exploring people who are not “naturally good” as writer/producer Michael Straczynski said. It will be riveting to explore people with not-so-genuine mindsets that are not all that excited about world peace or saving innocents.

I have some predictions about the release date. With most shows, Netflix stays true to the original release date. It’s done so with House of Cards, Orange is The New Black and many others. My guess is June 10th. With the former, each season started a week after the previous one, so this pattern seems all but fitting.

What do you think about Rajan as a villain? Do you think the new cluster is a good thing? Do you agree with my guess on the release date? Make sure to let me know in the comments.

Book Review: The Indian by Jon Gnarr

the indian jon gnarr

Written by the ex-mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr, The Indian follows his early life, studies the way he has lived and shows how hard it is to be different. He has never known what most people define as normal, and that’s good.

The book opens with a little introduction to the Icelandic alphabet, so one does not wonder how to pronounce some names and words. This is good to have as the book includes quite a few, at first, tricky names that are initially hard to read but as the book progresses, it gets just as if you read names like Stefan, Sam, Sarah etc.

When you first look into Gnarr’s history, it’s beguiling to think he does not care about people’s opinion and his career seems as an example of this. However, in The Indian Jon shows a vivid, and unsettling, portrayal of a person who is like a fish out of water, diverging from what others perceive as ‘normal’. His childhood is not what would usually be considered as troubled, not really, but it is hard to feel this as it is grim and yet relentlessly fun and relatable. The inability to fit amongst the others, both his classmates and his family, is easy to read about but hard to get through if you have ever been a misfit. The situations that occur are somewhat similar though distinctive in its own way.

“What they thought ‘normal’ was a mystery to me; I don’t see it until someone else tells me.”

The novel is not fiction, but it is not completely non-fiction either. The author himself states it in the beginning. What the book is a recollection of what he remembers and what others have told him. Reading it, I could say I thought everything happening in the book is credible and not far-fetched. Exactly what may seem as an exaggeration, I feel, is the complete, unbeautified and utter truth. The decision to include notes from psychotherapists is clever and enhances the realistic feel of The Indian. Many of these notes say what you feel and think explicitly as you read the novel.

The Indian by Jon Gnarr is a novel about self-discovery in a world where being different is of no good. It is an ingenious and bleak book, cleverly exploring the life of a ginger misfit, with writing that seamlessly blends Jon Gnarr’s comedic abilities with an emotional connection that results in a need to learn everything there is to know about the boy who didn’t fit in his surroundings and wanted to become an Indian.

Movie Review: Everest

everest

Everyone has thought about what it would be like to climb the highest point of the planet Earth. Everyone. However, not everybody has the ability to do so. Instead of risking your life, catch a glimpse of the experience on the biggest screen possible, preferably in IMAX.

Everest follows the story of a small group of people who go on an expedition to climb the highest mount, but as an unexpected storm hits, the crew has to face the worst of conditions.

Baltasar Kormákur, an Icelander who is doing a film of such scale for the first time, is the person behind the camera. He has done a tremendous job at directing Everest—the cinematography, pacing and character development are fantastic.

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Where the movie is at its best—that being the realistic touch that Kormákur has added, you are digging your nails into your palms, literally (at least that’s what I did). I strongly disagree with other reviewers who say the first act is slow. For me it was perfect as we get to know the characters, where and how they take up on this endeavour, who is who.

The realism is unprecedented; never did I think the film would be nearly as close to reality as it actually is. The fact that we see the bodies of the dead climbers being passed by, the ambiguity of it—it’s both selfish and yet understandable.

In a way, the spine-chilling storms, the roaming thunders shattering the ground, the unearthing of the mountaineers who may have survived, and the frozen faces and limbs—they all contribute to truly immersing the viewer to the horrible reality some hikers go through when climbing up the peaks. The strongest theme in Everest is the idea that human nature will be responsible for any occurring death, not due to severe conditions.

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As far as acting goes, it’s stellar across the board–Jason Clarke, Thomas Wright, Ang Phula Sherpa, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Goodman-Hill, Josh Brolin and everyone else do a fine job at portraying the struggles of the characters.

Everest is a film centred around the ambience, harshness, physical impact, and sound of the extreme weather and magnificence of the Himalaya. With powerful character moments, fantastic scenery and visual effects, the film shows how small and insignificant we, the humans are, in comparison to the Mother Nature. To be fully immersed, Everest must be seen in 3D on the largest screen possible.

Overall Score: 8

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See it!

Movie Review: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

maze runner the scorch trialsLast year, The Maze Runner came out and was refreshing and therefore received great by both critics and audiences. The movie grossed almost $350 million, paying back its production budget more than 10 times. Now, a year later, its sequel — The Scorch Trials is out and is every ounce as good as its predecessor, even better.

The Scorch Trials picks up moments after The Maze Runner ended with our characters out of the maze. They are now far and away from WCKD, safe. They are brought to a base where there find out there has been more than one maze. We are quickly introduced to Aris, the kid who has been in the base for the longest(read: one week). From there many twists and turns, fighting, running, betrayal and many more shocking revelations follow.

Wes Ball, the director, has done a fantastic job with this film. Even better than what he did with the previous one. The horror elements are here, even scarier than before. At first, I thought the handheld approach was not well-used, however, later I realized it was brilliant — you get to feel the same discomfort, disorientation and general feel of the scene, as if you are one of the characters. In addition, Ball manages to build tension in such a way that leaves you even more satisfied with the end result, which is an expanded world and richer characters. He also gives us seconds of black screen a couple of times in order for us to mull over what’s happened.

Another thing The Scorch Trials is exceptional at is incorporating the visual effects with the real world in a seamless manner. The budget of the film is yet to be released, but I doubt that Fox would spend much more when the director can make do such great visuals with low budget swimmingly. I really can’t understand how movies with budgets north of the century mark have such flimsy CGI. Sure, the effects are not always perfect, but most of the time — they are.

Acting was top-notch all around, from the main characters we already know to the new ones we see for the first time. Everyone does a great job. There a couple of slow moments, to balance the action, some of which include deaths and the reactions and emotions could certainly be felt by the viewers.

One of the things worth noticing is that the film does not end where you think it would At one point I was sure it will end, but the movie went on for a solid 20 minutes longer. And that was my only little problem with the film — the ending. What I mean is that it kind of feels done before, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly.

In The Maze Runner a world was created and now, in The Scorch Trials, it is expanded and built upon. With intelligent storytelling, beautiful cinematography and great acting, the film is not to be missed under any circumstances.

The Scorch Trials hits theatres on September 18 in the US and is already playing in many overseas markets.

The ‘Divergent’ final instalments have new names

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We are just few months away from the second to last film in the Divergent series and now the studio has decided to axe the good old Part 1 and Part 2 in the titles.

After an okay run at the box office, Insurgent’s sequels will be called The Divergent Series: Allegiant and the fourth and final one — Ascendant. As expected, both films will follow Veronica Roth’s bestseller novel Allegiant. What’s more, the films have new taglines:

The Divergent Series: Allegiant — Break the boundaries of your world

The Divergent Series: Ascendant — The end is never what you expect

Out of nowhere, MTV News was the website which broke the news about the young adult series. Strategically, dropping the Part 1 and Part 2 from the title is a great move. If what the creators of the adaptations do their job right, which is debatable after Insurgent, we might get to see a better version the book with the expanded world.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant hits theaters on March 18, 2016.

What do you think about this title change? Was it a good idea? Are you excited about Allegiant?

Jessica Jones Air Date Revealed

Jessica_Jones_Official_LogoAfter this spring’s Netflix and Marvel co-created, successful show — Daredevil, the two studios will release another one based on another comic book. This one is Jessica Jones.

After months of speculation and rumors, it was finally announced that the psychological thriller show will premiere all its 13 one-hour episode on November 20th.

If you haven’t yet heard about Jessica Jones, here is a description:

Jessica Jones (Ritter) is a former super-heroine who decides to start her life anew as a private investigator. This is the second of Marvel’s Netflix series and is a part of the Defenders line-up set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The show is written by Brian Michael Bendis and Melissa Rosenberg. It stars Carrie-Anne Moss, David Tennant, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor and others.

Jessica Jones will be out on November 20th, 2015.

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabbledon

Kindle-7-book-coverWritten in the early nineties, Outlander by Diana Gabbledon is older than I am. With the television show which premiered on Starz last summer, the series spiked my interest. After seeing the first episode I was hooked, but decided to read the book first. As months went by I finally picked it up a few days ago.

Outlander, or Cross-Stitch as it was originally published, centers around Claire Randall — a nurse during World War II who, after the war ends, goes on a honeymoon with her husband(Jack Randall) to Scotland. There, after a series of events, she falls through time and goes back about 200 years and is forced to make the best out of a situation I would never survive. What follows is an incredible adventure involving history, romance, action and sex. All the spices needed for a gripping read.

The author puts the main character though tough situations like attempted rape, murder, suspicion of being a spy. Although having a slow start, the first book in the series picks up pace really fast and thus becoming a page-turner. Some chapters are slower than others but that’s due to fantastic build-up and beguiling character development. At almost 900 pages, Outlander is quite hard not to be intimidating knowing there are seven more books in the series. But then again, same goes for Game of Thrones.

Though marketed as a romance in the beginning because the publisher did not know how to do it otherwise, the novel is much more than simple romance. Being historical fiction, there are many things one could learn from reading it about England, Scotland and France. Of course, it is not perfectly accurate though if that was the case, it wouldn’t be nowhere near as thrilling and suspenseful. Outlander jumps into deep lengths, exploring some very mature themes and is quite dark and gritty at times. It is not recommended for people who can’t stand graphic depictions of violence and sex.

Diana Gabbledon’s writing is so addicting and beautiful, you can hardly stop reading. In addition, the many twists and turns make Outlander much more than a simple time-travel romance. With complex and powerful storylines, terrific character development and exceptional world-building, it is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.

‘Under the Dome’ is coming to an end this season

"Redux" --  Pictured Alexander Koch as Junior Rennie,  star in UNDER THE DOME that begins its third season Thursday, June 25 on the CBS Television Network.  Photo Brownie Harris/CBS©2015CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Under the Dome… This show is so weird to me. Sometimes, I watch it and I am completely sucked in, but other times — it’s painful to watch. THe 11th episode I hated. It was as ridiculous as it gets. Regardless, I and most of the people who stuck with it for these past three years will have another show taken away.

Yes, today, CBS announced that with Under the Dome‘s 13 episode this season, the 39 for all three years, the show will conclude. The show loosely based on Stephen King’s novel has not been ordered by the network. It’s official, Under the Dome is done. It will not come back next summer for a fourth season.

“Two years ago, Under the Dome broke new ground in the summer and became an instant hit on CBS, as well as with viewers around the world,” said Nina Tassler, chairman. “Dome’s event storytelling and multi-platform business model paved the way for more original summer programming with the successful rollouts of Extant and Zoo. We’re excited to present the final chapter in Chester’s Mill as the story comes full circle, with the Dome coming down as dramatically as it went up.”

 

Book Review: Another Day by David Levithan, or Another attempt to make money off a successful book

another day

Thee years ago, David Levithan, author of numerous contemporary novels, put out  a book called Every Day. It was met with criticism; some loved it, others hated it, I didn’t care. The book was not enjoyable, but not worthy of being loathed — it had shortcomings, but they were not that many.

Today the sequel/companion that was never supposed to materialise in flesh is out. And it’s bad. Desultory and tedious, Another Day tells the pretty much same story of Every Day, however, this time through another character’s eyes — Rhiannon’s.

Never have I been a fan of alternate point-of-view stories, but as the publisher sent this to me I decided to give it a try. Pushed myself to like it, but it was hard to get through this one. The writing is good, but it, alone, cannot save the book. The emotional pull that Every Day conveyed is gone and, maybe because I know how the story unravels, Rhiannon is not a riveting center of attention.The book ends on a cliffhanger, which makes me dread the worst — that an actual sequel may come out in the future.

On the whole, Another Day is a book with great writing, but barely has any other redeeming qualities, which can make me recommend this one. Nevertheless, if you have yet to read Every Day, you might enjoy this one. It will probably have some gravitas if you do not already know the story.

Rating:
2.5/5 stars

Review: Continuum season 4 premiere

It’s here. After months of uncertainty around Continuum‘s faith, in December it was revealed that the show would come back for a final, shortened, fourth season. Now it has returned and what it offers is the great, complicated and sophisticated look at what the future holds.

The show is not really back until September 4th, but there is a pre-release for the first episode for all three of Showcase’s shows coming out in September — Continuum, Lost Girl, and Mr. Robot. Once I found out about this I jumped the ceiling with my heart beating in my chest harder than it does when I work out.

The Simon Barry show picks up where we left off last summer with Kiera and Brad cutting off Vancouver’s electricity and bringing Iron Man reminiscent robocops to this timeline. To add more fuel to the fire of intensity, Kellog has taken over Piron by tricking the other Alec into signing the documents which makes Kellog the CEO of Piron.

Throughout the episode, there is one moment where you might think is a cheap way for the writers to do something, which they are not actually doing. Sounds convoluted, but once you see the episode, you will know what this is all about. It is a smart move in order to speed up Kiera’s personal need — to get back home, to her family, to Sam.

“The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.”

However, do not take it that this episode is mostly drama; it’s not. It is one of the few shows, whose action scenes are indeed nail-bitingly intense. In addition, we learn more about the robocops, who they are and why they are here. The episode is well-paced and filled with a lot of action and drama. The show returns with a bang, bringing back the great acting and masterful storytelling we have come to expect from it.

I have always been the person who supported the theory of time travel that you cannot change the past, regardless of what you do, because it is bound to happen. For example, you kill someone who is crossing the street with your car unintentionally; you want to fix this. You find a way to get back in time and you stop yourself from doing this (if the other you believes it) and you turn left. However, then you take left, instead of right, and that same person is there, because he has also decided to take a left turn. You kill him. Or you might kill him some other day, it has to happen. That’s how it works — you can’t change the past… or at least that’s how I thought things worked before I watched this show.

“Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense.”

Continuum has changed my perspective on time travel with its multi-timeline concept, which actually makes sense. Every action in the past creates another timeline in which you don’t kill the person crossing the street (you are a really bad driver). In the other one — you do. This is thoroughly explained in the premiere of the third season.

You can watch the premiere early on one of the many platforms it has been released: Shaw Media digital properties: Action-tv.ca, ETCanada.com, MyLifetimeTV.ca, Slice.ca, Showcase.ca, GlobalTV.com, and the Global Go App; on iTunes, YouTube, set-top box with most major television providers through Global On Demand and Showcase On Demand, the accompanying online portal for Showcase On Demand, and with Canadian streaming service, Shomi (available August 25).

What did you think of the premiere? Is it good? Did you love it as much as me? Also, what’s your take on the time travel concept?

Also, for all of you fans out there, I am giving away this poster of the show:

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