Westworld: Full Trailer

Westworld is an upcoming HBO television series based upon the 1973 film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton. Crichton was an acclaimed writer, director, film producer, science-fiction novelist and physician best known for authoring the 1990 novel Jurassic Parkupon which the 1997 film was based. Crichton was also the creator of the hit medical drama ER, and served as the show’s executive producer. The works of the diversely talented and extremely intelligent Dr. Crichton usually dealt with humanity’s obsession with technology and tampering with the natural order, showing what happens when humanity’s potential with technology exceeds what it is able to firmly grasp.

Crichton’s 1973 film directorial debut, Westworld told the story of a theme park in the near future called Delos. Delos is populated by lifelike, high-tech androids. There are three worlds in this park, West World, styled as the American Old West, Medieval World, and Roman World. The lifelike environment and the countless androids that populate the parks exist to allow visitors to role-play as whatever they would like. James Brolin and Richard Benjamin starred as two visitors to West World. One of the attractions, The Gunslinger, is meant to instigate duels for the visitors to participate in. The weapons issued to the guests have temperature sensors to prevent them from shooting other humans, but permit them to “kill” the androids. The Gunfighter is programmed to let the humans win and kill him, and return back the next day for new guests.

The technicians at Delos begin to notice systemic failures and malfunctions in the androids accross all three parks, spreading like an infectious disease: a robotic snake bites Benjamin’s character, an android refuses sexual advances in Medieval World and a knight kills a guest in a swordfight. This goes against the androids’ programming The frantic tehnicians are told by the Chief Supervisor:

“We aren’t dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment, almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they’ve been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.”

Eventually, the androids begin to run amok and the Gunslinger kills nearly every patron in West World and lock the engineers out of the system. The movie follows Brolin’s character’s desperate attempt to evade The Gunslinger and escape with his life.

The film recieved critical acclaim and is considered by many to be a cult classsic film; it was the first film in history to use digital image processing to pixilate film to show an android’s point of view. The film recieved praise for its storytelling, with Variety calling the film excellent, explaining that it “combines solid entertainment, chilling topicality, and superbly intelligent serio-comic story values.”

Westworld was followed by a failed sequel and a failed television series, neither of which had any involvement with Crichton, who passed away in 2008 at 66. In 2013, HBO announced plans to revive Westworld as a television series. Despite having yet to see the original 1973 film, Westworld immediately grabbed my attention due to the very interesting ideas presented.

Westworld is brimming with potential. The idea was pitched by none other than Jonathan Nolan. Jonathan is the younger brother of acclaimmed filmmaker Christopher Nolan. He has co-written several of the screenplays for his brother’s films, including The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar. Jonathan wrote a short story inspired by his general psychology class at Georgetown University entitled Momento Mori. Jonathan pitched the story to his older brother on a cross-country road trip. Though the final screenplay was drastically different than Johnathan’s original story, the basic premise served as inspiration for Christopher’s critically acclaimed debut, the mind-bending psychological thriller MomentoThe original story was published by Esquire Magazine in 2001. In addition to assisting his brother, Johnathon has also been noted for serving as the creator, executive producer, and head showrunner of the CBS technothriller series Person of InterestHe directed and co-wrote several individual episodes of the critically acclaimmed series. Though it started out as a crime procedural with a very interesting premise, the series eventually evolved into a more serialized show around its third season, and broadened it’s exploration of deeper themes and the nature of artifical intelligence, which is when audiences and critics truly began to take note. Nolan is serving as head showrunner alongside Lisa Joy, his wife and former head writer for USA Network’s critically acclaimmed and well-known spy series Burn Notice.  Also serving as showrunner is the Prince of Nerds himself, J.J. Abrams. I am very doubtful his name needs any sort of introduction.

The 88-minute film managed to pack in a lot of philosophical discussion about the nature of technology and servitude in a relatively short amount of time, but that will understandably pale in comparison to what the right crew can do with a 10-hour serial. Indeed, it already seems as though the Westworld series will go much deeper than the film ever could. Headed up by Nolan, who’s entire previous project revolved around the nature of A.I, self-sentience resulting from that A.I, and humanity’s responsibilities when it comes to use of technology, and J.J. Abrams, Westworld very much so has the potential to become one of the best, if not the best, science-fiction television series.

The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.

The series will star an ensemble cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Jeffery Wright, Thandie Newton, Jimmi Simpson, Ben Barnes, Luke Hemsworth, and Clifton Collins, Jr. With so much talent and star power evident on this project, I would be suprised and a little disappointed if Westworld doesn’t end up being another HBO staple that no one can shut up about.

The pilot episode of Westworld, which was written and directed by Jonathan Nolan, will premiere on HBO Sunday October 2nd at 9PM.


Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 2

Season 2 of Daredevil premiered on March 18th, 2016 on Netflix. It is the third overall installment in Marvel Studios’ Defenders franchise following the series’ stellar first season and the also stellar first season of Jessica Jones. Season 1 showrunner Stephen S. DeKnight left the series to work on other projects. Showrunning duties for this season were taken over by Doug Petrie, known for his work on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. The cast once again includes Charlie Cox as the eponymous hero, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, and Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, with Jon Bernthal, Elodie Yung, and Stephen Rider joining the cast as Frank Castle, Elektra Natchios, and Blake Tower, respectively. Other featured cast members include Vincent D’Onoforio as Season 1’s main antagonist Wilson Fisk and Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple, who serves as connective tissue for each individual Netflix series, having a one episode appearance in Jessica Jones and soon to have what seems to be a much larger appearance in the upcoming Luke Cage.

This season picks up some time after the previous season left off. Nelson and Murdock are barely scraping by due to taking on several cases pro bono, and the Avocados at Law are in very dire financial straits. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock’s vigilante career as Daredevil is now in full swing. Aspects of both of Murdock’s lives are thrown into utter chaos following the emergence of a murderous vigilante taking the fight to the criminals of Hell’s Kitchen, with little to no regard for collateral damage and the return of a group of people profoundly important in shaping Matt Murdock into the man he is today. Granted, Matt hoped never to cross paths with them ever again, and for very good reason.

The majority of Season 1 was, logically, a set up and introduction to the characters of the series and their lives. As such, Matt Murdock’s two lives were neatly separated and the conflict mainly laid in Daredevil’s battle with the Fisk. With almost all introductory character arcs now firmly and neatly behind us, Season 2 proceeds to throw Matt’s life directly in the toilet in every way possible. Much of Season 2 deals with Matt’s attempts to juggle his duties as a lawyer and a hero. Most of the time, he fails this juggling act miserably, and much of the season is spent watching this extremely empathetic character struggle with the seemingly never-ending downward spiral occurring in his life. As before, the writers do an excellent job of making you feel for and care about everyone in the season, especially a very notable new character.

Frank Castle is a former U.S. Marine, and a very good one. Frank spent three tours in Iraq, and at some points was seconded to Special Forces and conducted covert operations. The highly decorated Castle returns home to his wife and two children after his third tour. Frank is shot in the head and his family tragically killed in a gang related shooting. Surviving on nothing but sheer force of will, Castle, who should be dead, declares war on crime, dispatching anyone who dares get in his way. Law enforcement has taken to calling this mysterious and deadly vigilante “The Punisher.”

The Punisher is a looming force of doom and dread for the first four episodes of the season. Bernthal, with minimal dialogue, is effectively intimidating, terrifying, and awesome throughout the season. His introduction in the final moments of the season premiere is a major highlight of the entire series, and a highlight of all the Defenders series so far.

The Punisher continues his reign of abject terror against crime unabated without a single shred of remorse, expertly dispatching anyone he pleases, from a pawn shop clerk to Daredevil himself. The Punisher is a menace to society, murdering, torturing, dispatching, and assassinating remorselessly without a second thought. He is a monster. These are things Matt Murdock and Company, so the viewer by extension, believe. That is, up until the severely wounded Punisher has a heart to heart with the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen.

With one eight minute monologue, one of the major antagonists for the season goes from The Punisher, a brutal, violent force so unstoppable he is nearly the personification of Death, to Frank Castle, a war veteran who had the rug pulled out from under him; a man who lost everything and is just doing something he spent years doing for his country, something he happens to be very good at. This is not the first time the character switches emotional gears, so to speak, and it will not be the last. Make no mistake, as brutal, violent, and unrepentant of a character as he is, Frank Castle is, without a doubt, the most relatable and empathetic characters in the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, end of the discussion. This is entirely due to the acting skills of Jon Bernthal. He is certainly going places. Bernthal is the perfect Punisher. No man before has done the character justice, and I doubt any man after will, either. Sometimes dismissed as “Batman with guns,” the seemingly one-dimensional Castle is probably one of the most difficult fictional characters for anyone to work with in any medium. Antiheroes aren’t villians. They are characters that walk the line between good and evil, sometimes in service of a greater goodor of a greater greed. Frank, though, is a man in service of no one, sometimes it seems as though he is not even in control of himself, and he probably isn’t. Frank is a truly unstoppable force of nature, and that is extremely difficult to effectively convey. Ultimately, it comes down to the man portraying him, and Jon Bernthal does so effortlessly. I doubt any other actor would have done anywhere near as good. Berenthal’s performance is right up there with Heath Ledger’s Joker or Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man. The former Walking Dead star will have you weeping sympathy tears right before you gasp in absolute horror and amazement. The Punisher is the standout highlight of the season.

Bernthal isn’t carrying this season alone, though, don’t worry. Series protagonist Charlie Cox plays both the personalities of Matt Murdock and Daredevil to such an effective degree that I’m suprised and perplexed I had no idea who he was until last year. He and Bernthal have such a commanding screen presence, both together and individually, you darn well better not miss any time either of them are onscreen. Deborah Ann Woll, yet another name I am not familiar with, continues to impress me, acing the sweet and innocent (but not at all) character of Karen Page. Her continuing love triangle between Matt and Foggy seems like it would feel forced and manufactured, but it doesn’t, and, get this, actually has me invested! If you know me, getting me to care about a love story… it doesn’t normally happen.

The action sequences this season are phenomenal. As I said in my review of the first season, Daredevil features the best fight sequences of any television series, and can at times surpass some feature film fight sequences. I went into this season thinking there’s no way they can top the now-famous one take hallway fight, but they did…

Unlike Jessica Jones, which featured some lackluster action that was made up for by a great story and well-crafted character drama, you will hear of no such complaints from me concerning Season 2 of Daredevil. Every fight scene is excellently crafted and simply breathtaking. You know, because of the countless collapsed lungs.

All this well-deserved gushing isn’t to say the season is entirely without fault. This season clearly suffers from too much ambition. Nearly every TV show suffers from this at some point. Season 1 set the bar unbelievably high. This makes everyone think that, in order to be successful, they have to raise the bar for subsequent seasons. Daredevil attempts to raise the bar by adding multiple story arcs and multiple brand new characters, which are meant to be equally as important and impactful as the arcs and characters already set up.

Halfway through the season, while dealing with the Frank Castle crisis, we are introduced to Matt’s old flame, the Greek sophisticate and femme fatale Elektra. It turns out that Elektra is a part of an evil clan of terrorist ninjas called The Hand. She half-seduces, half-coerces Matt into assisting in her endevors, leading to a plot on top of the Frank Castle stuff. It isn’t a bad subplot, and is actually very engaging. The problem is that this newly added subplot (Elektra is introduced at the end of Episode 4) completely derails the pacing for the show, turning it into a race to the finish, leading to somewhat underdeveloped plot points and very little time for the viewer to digest what is actually happening. The writing isn’t bad, there’s just way too much there to unpack in 13 episodes. The season finale, in particular, was very disappointing in comparison to Season 1 because, with the breakneck pace at which this season ended up running, the conclusion approaches way too fast and is filled with way too much stuff to be satisfying. Another caveat for me was Elodie Yung’s performance. The French actress and martial artist is inconsistant in her performance as Elektra. There are points at which she is very good, and other points where she isn’t. Also, Elden Henson’s Foggy is given much more of a role this season, and the way his character was written made him seem, at certain points, like Matt Murdock’s overbearing mother rather than his best friend and partner.

In some cases, Season 2 of Daredevil does live up to, and at some points even surpasses, the phenomenal first season. There are more flaws evident in this season than the previous one, flaws that can easily be improved come the third season. These flaws are also dwarfed by epic performances, most notably by Jon Bernthal, and even more epic fight sequences. Though I will admit it could have been better, season 2 certainly left me desperately wanting more. Thankfully, as it turns out, I will actually be getting more than I asked for.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Spoilers)

Marvel’s Jessica Jones premiered on Netflix on November 20th, 2015 with thirteen episodes. It is the second installment in Marvel Studios’ partnership with Netflix to create a Defenders franchise alongside the studios’ big screen ventures. This partnership was the reason behind the stellar first season of Daredevil, which to this day remains one of my favorite Marvel Studios creations. Jessica Jones stars Kristen Ritter as the titular character, David Tennant as Kilgrave, Mike Coulter as Luke Cage, Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker, Wil Traval as Will Simpson, Carrie Anne-Moss as Jeri Hogarth, and Erin Moriarty as Hope Schlottman.

The series follows superpowered and foul-mouthed private eye Jessica Jones as she is roped into battle with the terrifying Kilgrave. Jones must navigate a dense web of lies, corruption, violence, and deceit while also struggling with PTSD brought about by her last encounter with Kilgrave.

It is very important to note that Jessica Jones and Daredevil are two entirely different beasts. Daredevil was a somewhat grounded mystery action thriller whereas Jessica Jones is a much more subdued interpersonal drama with much more focus on relationships and much more fantastical science fiction elements. The action elements, though certainly there and certainly impressive at times, take a back seat to Jessica’s personal battles and her management of personal relationships in the midst of her horrifying struggle.

Jessica Jones is yet another win for Marvel Studios, who just can’t seem to make anything that can subjectively be qualified as “bad.” I will agree that both the Thor movies leave something to be desired, but they were still ultimately enjoyable. Regardless, that is an entirelt different conversation for another day. The major highlight of the series is undoubtedly the writing. The action is very good and certainly intense, but ttue moments of tension can be found when the punches are not flying.

David Tennant’s Kilgrave is Marvel Studios’ single most intimidating villian yet.He has the power of mind control. That’s his only power, otherwise he is just a normal sociopath. But he is also really friggin’ creepy. He doesn’t want to rule the world, although that could be easily achieved, he doesn’t need money, all he wants is the one thing he cannot have: Jessica Jones, and he will do whatever it takes to get her. He murders, manipulates, and schemes his way back into Jessica’s life, even forcing an innocent teenage girl whom he abducted earlier to kill her own parents in the elevator of Jessica’s apartment building in order to send her a chilling message, and that was just the first episode. Kilgrave formerly had complete and utter control over Jessica, she was forced to do whatever he wanted her to do, including commiting a various number of crimes…. and even nearly making her sever her own ear as punishment. The series is noted for dealing with sensitive subjects like sexual assault, abusive relationships, and domestic violence in such a way that it isn’t using something horrible like sexual assault as a cheap shock value plot point, but through allegory and metaphor, is able to have a genuine conversation about it without trivializing it.

Kilgrave, who is incapable of understanding true human emotion, really believes himself to be in love with Jessica. He sees himself as a hopeless romantic, the good boy after the good girl; his thoughts of what he thinks love really is just makes him that much more skeevy.

Kilgrave, despite being a reprehensible, immature, almost child-like sociopath, ends up being a sympathetic character in his own right.

Jessica Jones is not all doom and gloom, however, as David Tennant and Kristen Ritter also bring a healthy dose of humor and hilarity to the table without comprimising the serious nature of the narrative or the nature of their characters in the slightest.

Daredevil is great and a landmark achievement for both Netlix and Marvel Studios, with action sequences that rival that of big budget films. Jessica Jones opts to tell a tight, gut-wrenching, heart-twisting, in some ways terrifying, personal story about the right and wrong ways to deal with trauma. Impressively written and suprisingly not very preachy, in some ways, Jessica Jones does certain things better than any similar TV show ever will, which is both unexpected and welcome, seeing as it is wrapped up in a primarily superhero/science-fiction narrative. I cannot wait for the next season and am excited to see the character reappear in The Defenders in 2018.

Stranger Things

Stramger Things is a period piece science-fiction horror thriller television series created by The Duffer Brothers. The eight-episode first season premiered on Netflix in July 2016 to near-universal acclaim. The series stars Winnona Ryder, David Harbor, and Matthew Modine. Set in late 1983, Stranger Things revolves around the mysterious sudden disappearance of young tween Will Byers and the sudden appearence of a young girl with a mysterious past and strange powers.

Stranger Things seems to be somewhat of a spiritual successor to JJ Abrams’ 2011 film Super 8, which tells the story of three tween friends who stumble upon the supernatural in 1979 Ohio. Super 8 has developed a cult following for creating a viable and interesting science-fiction story enhanced with period-accurate nostalgia. Stranger Things does exactly that. It is an engrossing story with a very catchy synth soundtrack.

The story is actually a very interesting fusion of genres. While primarily a science-fiction story, the mystery of Will Byers is approached by several different characters or groups of characters in several different ways. Will’s friends and Eleven are in E.T. and The Breakfast Club, as the social pressures of being a nerdy outcast play a large role in the story, Will’s mom attempts to communicate with him through a variety of strange ways such as blinking lights, giving off a Poltergiest vibe, Will’s brother Johnathon and his romantic interest discover a monster connected to Will’s disappearence and end up having to battle it, similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Chief John Hopper becomes embroiled in a government conspiracy involving MK Ultra. It is a mismash of popular 80’s film genres and is extremely well-done and provides interest and insight into various characters. While pulling from various popular films of the time, Stranger Things also flips various tropes of the genres on their head.

As you can see, Stranger Things makes quite the point of being nostalgic. I was not a child of the 80’s, but my uncle did seem to appreciate the attention to detail in a show billed as “a love letter to the eighties.” This aspect is very interesting and impressive. I continue to mention the addictive synth score, because it’s awesome.

The cinematography of the show is brilliantly done by one Tim Ives. Ives effectively uses lightinng in addition to the pulse-pounding and earworm-inducing synth heavy soundtrack to create a level of atmospheric tension that makes the show supremely addicting. Ives is able to use long shots and pan shots in certain scenes to amp up the creep factor and uses jump cuts and rapid editing to hype the action and keep the pacing. I binged watched this show in one day with my uncle and my friend Adam. As much as I like TV and movies, this was the first time I watched a show in one day. It is a great show that is very much worthy of a weekend binge-watch.

The Newsroom

The Newsroom is a television series aired on HBO from 2012 to 2014. The series stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher, Jr., Allison Pill, Olivia Munn, Thomas Sadowski, Dev Patel, and Sam Waterston. The series was created by Aaron Sorkin. The Newsroom follows Will McAvoy’s attempts to return to the cable news business after a two week leave following a very public meltdown of sorts at a university speaking engagement, which is where the show begins. It is extremely likely you have seen this before, because the supremely well-written rant became a mild viral sensation, and deservedly so.

What is cut out from the clips that pop up on Facebook is the fact that McAvoy begins ranting because he sees his old flame, Mackenzie “Mac” McHale, in the audience. McAvoy assumes he is hallucinating, but takes the advice Mac had. Will returns after two weeks to find most of his staff left. Don, his executive producer, decides to leave News Night for a new time slot. His new EP is none other than Mackenzie McHale. He is furious for reasons I will leave ambiguous for now. Charlie Skinner, played by Waterston (the Law and Order mainstay is uncharacteristically funny and endearing here), hired McHale over Will’s break because he knew their history would spark something inside of Will. Will made a reputation as an anchor that refuses to offend anyone. News Night had sagging ratings, so something needed to be done. Mac does exactly what she should have, and News Night returns triumphant. The series follows the day to day lives of those working in the Newsroom with Will.

Aaron Sorkin is probably the best screenwriter in the business, period. He is the creator of the award-winning play A Few Good Men and wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation. Yes, he is the man you can thank for one of the most famous lines (and hands down the best rant) in film history.

Sorkin is also the writer of great films such as Moneyball, The Social Network, and Steve Jobs (Fassbender, not Kutcher). Sorkin’s crowning and arguably most well-known achievement, though, the NBC series The West WingThe West Wing aired from 1999 from 2oo6. While The Newsroom follows those working in the newsroom, The West Wing follows a colorful cast of staffers working under President Jeb Bartlet in the West Wing of The White House. Notable cast members included Martin Sheen as Bartlet, Dule Hill (Gus from Psych), Rob Lowe, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford, and Queen Allison Janey. (Obscure Key and Peele reference FTW) Over it’s run, The West Wing received 118 awards, including 26 Emmy Awards.It is still to this very day the best written TV show to air, in terms of dialogue.

I don’t think I can talk about The Newsroom without a quick tangent about The West Wing. Sorkin is known for poignant, cutting, intricate and well-crafted dialogue. Nowhere else is the dialogue more poignant in The West Wing than the season two finale. President Bartlet was forced to admit to the public that he has MS. The American people’s faith in him plummeted and he and his staff are facing prosecution concerning this information. His beloved secretary, Mrs. Landingham, died in a car accident after purchasing her first new car. What follows is a meltdown of Biblical proportions.

The show ended its run after seven seasons and did not falter once, in my opinion.

The Newsroom has more great Sorkin moments, and at times exceeds the peak of West Wing. This next clip is from the third episode of the series. As a somewhat disgruntled journalism major, this one really resonated with me.

The Newsroom came under a lot of fire over its three-year run for being “too preachy.” Sorkin actually apologized. He shouldn’t have. Yes, The Newsroom as an entity is overt about its views and political standings, ironically, moreso than The West Wing was. That isn’t a bad thing. Will McAvoy’s initial problem is that “he’s popular because he refuses to offend anyone.” By Sorkin, and by proxy, the character of Will, picking a side, doesn’t that make him a better anchor? I certainly believe so. I can only imagine the outcry led to the show’s downfall. In case nobody realizes this, entertainment is made by people. People have thoughts, opinions, and feelings. Some of these feelings… people may not agree with. Every piece of fiction, whether it be books, television, movies, whatever, they all have a message. The message may be political, or it may be personal. It may be overt and obvious, or it might be subtle. It’s there, though. It’s always there. You should not fault a piece of entertainment for expressing the opinions of the person who made it. In other words, if stuff in The Newsroom disagrees with you, GET OVER IT BECAUSE IT’S DARN GOOD TELEVISION! And guess what, when Will gets off the air, Sorkin gets off his soapbox. Deal with it and you get great TV scenes like this…

You can leave if you don’t like my opinion that you can’t blame someone for expressing their opinions via something they created…

Here’s something I never thought I would say. Jeff Daniels is brilliant. His acting is top notch and he really gets into character. He embodies the Sorkin dialogue so perfectly it’s awesome.

The Newsroom is not all full of serious stuff. One thing Sorkin does excellently in both this series and The West Wing is a good measure of truly hilarious humor.

The Newsroom is an excellent spirtual successor to The West Wing. It’s a show about a man with opinions that was unfairly criticized and brought down for having an opinion. I watched all three of the really short seasons in one week. I recommend this show for anyone looking for an engaging, intelligent, and thought-provoking piece of television.

Peaky Blinders, Series 3

Peaky Blinders is a British crime drama series that originally premiered on September 12th, 2013 on BBC Two. It was picked up for US distribution by Netflix the following year and has since developed a sizable cult following. The series follows the Peaky Blinders, a British street gang operated by the Shelby family, spearheaded by the charismatic, intelligent Tommy Shelby, played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy. Murphy is widely known for portraying Johnathon Crane/Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Murphy also starred in the horror thriller 28 Days Later, the science-fiction thriller Inception, the cult hit Sunshine, and Red Eye. The series was created by Steven Knight, who wrote the screenplay for the brilliant thriller Eastern Promises.

This review is supposed to specifically cover the third series, but seeing as the plot is the most important part of the show and I would rather not spoil it, and the scripting, acting, cinematography, and other effects are right in line with the other series (as they should be) this has simply morphed into an analysis of the series as a whole.

I’ve heard some of my fellow Americans make comparison to Sons of AnarchySons of Anarchy doesn’t have jack on Peaky Blinders. I admittedly was not a big fan of SOA. I watched the first season and found the acting melodramatic, the production value cheesy, and the pacing inconsistent.  Here, everything is clockwork. The cinematography, directed by George Steel, is the main aspect that provides the series with a slick look that is more appealing than some major Hollywood films. Also interesting is the anachronistic, yet fitting alternative rock soundtrack that keeps pace with the more violent sequences of the series. The cast is impeccable and Cillian Murphy balances the three conflicting parts of Tommy Shelby (the strategic thinking decorated World War I veteran who always thinks ten steps ahead, the charming Bondian ladies man/diplomat who refuses to let emotions effect his business,  and the traditional Shelby traits of rash, violent, short-term, brainless, impulses, which usually end with some poor guy viciously attacked) so perfectly he is one of the most interesting protagonists on television. The friggin’ awesome haircut helps a lot, too. Dude can also pull off a suit and cap better than Daniel Craig did in Spectre Cillian Murphy is a brilliant actor who I hope to see in more mainstream work due to the overseas impact and success of this series.

One of the core aspects that makes Tommy, despite being a ruthless gangster, such an empathetic character is his wholehearted devotion to his family. He’s Michael Corleone with a better stylist and a cooler accent. The three elder Shelby brothers all struggle with some form of PTSD from their time in the war. Tommy is plagued by nightmares and chronic bouts of anxiety and mood swings. His older brother Arthur struggles with alcoholism, depression, mood swings of quite an extreme nature, as well as suicide attempts, and is the most disturbed, but also the most sympathetic, of the entire organization. John Shelby is the youngest leader of the Blinders, and also the most impulsive, disrespectful and outright stupid of the three. Helen McCrory stands out as the blunt, ruthless, and intelligent Aunt Polly, the de facto matriarch of the Shelby family and second-in-command of the organization. Polly is Tommy’s intellectual equal; she was in charge of the organization while the boys were fighting the war, and at points will override Tommy’s decisions, even though he is in command, and nobody dare cross her. She is the most intimidating character on the show, and for being set in the early 20th century, that is impressive.


Peaky Blinders does something right that makes it a great show. It’s a small thing, but an important thing. Shows like 24, (I have a poster of Jack Bauer in my bedroom) which was amazing for the first five seasons (and the special event season Live Another Day in 2015), fall apart because they continued to raise the stakes season after season until Season 6, wherein the plot of that season (in a series with an already unrealistic basic premise) was completely laughable to the point of utter stupidity. While 24 is admittedly now a major part of the pop culture landscape and was once a truly great example of the capabilities of American television, there’s no denying that the series (which is being rebooted) eventually turned into a mere shadow of its former self. Shows like Peaky Blinders, Breaking Bad, and Boardwalk Empire, in addition to being crime dramas, all share another common aspect. The stakes are never raised. Walter White never stormed into the DEA office with a minigun, took hostages, and demanded to speak with the President about a flight to an uncharted island. That would be stupid, and everyone knew this. Peaky Blinders, like these other shows, is on a set path. It does not deviate, and even though it’s sleek, stylish, and violent, it is never explosive, it’s never a spectacle. It’s never “something you’ve never seen before.” In fact, Series 3 is extremely similar and in line with the rest of the show. It’s not more of the same, but it is naturally a continuation of the story without any gimmicks or stupid plot devices. And that is awesome. Peaky Blinders, like Breaking Bad, is made for a binge watch. I don’t know if it was on purpose, but it certainly is binge worthy. Like most good shows, I think, it doesn’t feel like a show, it feels like one big long continuous movie, and it should be treated as such.

The series is not without its flaws, nothing is without flaws, but none are so glaring as to effect the viewing experience. Peaky Blinders is, in a somewhat strange comparison, a three course meal at your favorite restaurant. Course one, course two, and course three may not be drastically different and might actually be very similar, but they were both absolutely friggin’ delicious. Already renewed for both a fourth and fifth series because of its immense popularity in its native Britain and its growing popularity overseas, I recommend this series to anyone, even those not a fan of the crime genre, because there is enough style, flair, and sophistication to this series that you will be drawn to it in spite of the fact it’s a show about a bunch of unstable brothers with razor blades in their caps. Go watch it now…


The Eyes of Cillian compel you.