Heartbreaking and tragic. 13 Reasons Why tackles youth bullying and suicide

Probably about once a decade we get a movie or show that completely stands a lone in terms of emotional content. Most series or movies have a few moments that are either gruesome or they leave in a seemingly impossible scenario. Most movies and TV over exaggerate death and even life itself. Very few even try and tackle some darker and deeper themes and when most do it is done incorrectly. One show has now changed the complete way in which stories can be told. Thirteen Reasons Why incorporated life, love, bullying, obession, secrets, lies, sex, partying, rape and even suicide into a little over 14 hours of story telling and it sure was an emotional rollercoaster as can be expected. 

Within minutes of the series starting we already knew the outcome for Hannah Baker and we knew it was not going to be a good one or an easy one to handle. That itself creates a very knowingly emotional season finale while creating a mystery cloud around why. Within minutes of the series we knew that Hannah Baker the main protagonist of a new series we were watching takes her own life and we know that 13 people helped cause that in various forms. Thirteen Reasons Why immediately made us feel sad and that was the purpose but quickly through the flashbacks we learn it was a series of events for Hannah Baker that would either be wrong place wrong time or purely an outsider creating a world of pain for Hannah. 

As we learn with Hannah taking your life is rarely ever a spur of the moment decision. It is a decision made over time when things begin to turn completely inversed to the point that the reality you once knew is now a dark place filling your head with the scenarios you wish you could take back. Suicide is devastaingly permanent and changes the life of everyone around you forever. Suicide is something we collectively need to start taking more seriously. Depression, bullying, secrets, lies, Rape and emotional manipulation are all things we as people need to begin to try and understand by speaking with those affected by it and not judge them. 

Thirteen Reasons Why spends a lot of the series detailing the people and scenarios that are leading to the heartbreaking season finale but even though we know the outcome we still hold onto the hope that somehow Hannah was not dead and the tapes were just a cry for attention. However just like life the show has a very intense way of reminding us that just when we are beginning to accept the things we cannot change we finally have the ability to fully comprehend why they are even happening in the first place. 

It was not until the episode that was centered around Justin for the second time and then Clay Jensen that definitely sealed why Hannah did what she did. Justin held onto a secret to keep his friend safe and Clay was afraid to love someone who had a reputation. Which leads me to the cast. Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette have incredibly chemistry as Hannah and Clay. Minnnete’s Clay was quiet, reserved and introverted. Hannah was always mysterious, confident and definitely quirky. Clay and Hannah were just two people afraid of the world who could have been great together but just did not have the confidence to make it work. Langford and Minnette definitely helped propel the story forward and a long with the rest of the cast helped bring to life a story that perhaps is more culturally relevant than ever. 

As a father of a beautiful 1 year old girl who is my entire world this show was the first show ever in my days of watching TV that actually broke me. It had me balling my eyes out more than once and understandbly so. There were two scenes in particular that broke my heart as a father. Those two scenes were Hannah Bakers rape and suicide. Langford’s look of hopelesness and lonliness during the rape scene was too much. It was never quite clear what to expect from the episode where we see the final moments of Hannahs life. The scene where Hannah steals the razor blades from her parents pharmacy is hard enough but it does not stop there and the show does not shy away from showing it. Again Langfords frantic and lonely look are what create an emotion so overwhelming that the natural reaction is merely to react emotionally. However I knew the scene and the outcome of the season but seeing Katherine Langford act out that scene was too much. When she slips in the tub I still had my eyes on the screen but it is the moment when the blood starts gushing that I could no longer watch. Never in the time that I have been watching movies and shows has any show been so emotionally debilitating that I simply closes my eyes, paused the show and I simply wept uncontrollably at 145 am in my living room. Perhaps it was being a father that made me feel for Hannah Baker. Perhaps it was knowing that people can make others feel that horribly about themselves. Its a shame that women everywhere are made to feel the way Hannah felt in Thirteen Reasons Why. The show is about Hannah Baker and the people that lead her to make that choice but the show is meant to show us that there are people everywhere like Hannah who feel they have lost their mind, spirit and body and the only way out to is to take their own life.

 It’s a message to all of us watching to please be more perceptive of the people who are around us everyday and to acknowledge our feelings even when we are scared to do it. Its a message to all of us watching to be closer to the ones we love and embrace them when they are struggling. We should never shy away from telling someone we love them. We should never take someones soul from them. We are humans and built on emotions much stronger than any other life form can comprehend and yet we choose to use it to manipulate people. I just want to know the world is not capable of the things depicted in Thirteen Reasons Why but I already know they are because of the way the show made me feel.
Netflix you have created the most culturally relevant show in years. I definitely feel this needs to be shown and discussed within schools. This show is scripted but this stuff really happens and until it stops we cannot be afraid to discuss it and help those in need. We need to find a way to stop this in the real world and make sure our loved ones never feel a lone. Lonliness is a hard place to escape from. My daughter is my reason for life. Please find yours. In all seriousness to anyone feeling like taking their own life please reach out. Dont wait. 

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It’s Morphin time! 

Improvement is something we all strive for. We never want to stay at the same level. Progression, change, challenge are three keys to making something that was once viewed as dull and boring exciting again. Most 90’s kids know of the Power Rangers. As I kid I had action figures, posters, pyjamas and everything imaginable. However as every kid does I began to notice the extreme cliches and the downward spiral of a once beloved classic. Power Rangers has not been relevant since the late 90’s and it really is about time that we are once again talking about this series. 

Power Rangers has always been a well designed story about team building and communication. It at times was bogged down by the one dimensional dialogue and absolute cheesefest that were so called action scenes. It became a joke of sorts as the series progressed and it was a damn shame. At the core of the Power Rangers was a sincere message that should have been heard and deserved to be heard. 

Before news of this film entering production the most relevant thing to Power Rangers since 1998 was a fan made film starring Katee Sackhoff. The word relevant is only used because at first it was a Power Rangers related film and then it wasnt because it was not approved by the big wigs. Whatever the final decision was on that it was still for a brief moment something that was cool and refreshing that carried the name of something so nostalgic to many. Flash foward (Still mad ABC) to mid 2016 and we begin seeing casting photos and set pieces and hope rises again that the Power Rangers can once again be household names. 

That brings me to April 2nd, 2017. With a new Power Rangers film in cinemas I decided it would be a cool film to check out for old times sake. The film begins and immediately as the action tone is set and the experience is beginning there is an immediate connection to one element that definitely has been missing from the Power Rangers and that is dimensional and realistic characters. We can always suspend belief and go on a journey with the characters as long as we care about them. Billy Cranston was immediately that character in this film. It was the bold new take on a Power Rangers character, creating him to be openly autistic. That made it seem so much more down to earth and realistic. A kid like Billy Cranston would be the one to come across a 65 million year old alien war ship that allows him to be a superhero. It never felt like a stretch at all and the amounts of humour from Billy are what kept the film moving forward. Jason Scott and Kimberly Hart were the worst characterized of the new Rangers. The golden boy turned bad boy and the mean girl need to find their inner beautiful and redeeming qualities to save the small town they hate so much but obviously love to hate. Its typical teenage character stereotypes and it almost sets the movie back. 

Rita Repulsa was a good villain. I am not sure chomping down on a gold necklace is how I choose to spend my lunch breaks but then again I dont really want to unleash hell on the world either so that makes us different. All jokes aside Elizabeth Banks did a great job. She was menacing especially during the fight scenes and the one v one with Trini in her home. She was creepy enough but not gives the heeby geebies for life creepy and that was because of the campy scenarios of her eating gold. Bryan Cranston as Zordon was a limited role but definitely cool. Bill Hader as Alpha 5 was the obvious comic relief that helped create a light hearted training montage. After all their training it was a mere suplex that can save the world. Who knew?

With all due respect Power Rangers was a fun movie that knew how to balance the books so it featured a little bit of everything. Morphin Time looked dope, as did the Mechs before and during the fight. It started off well and ended well with minor characterization and dialogue issues as mentioned above. However this had an X-Men vibe to it in many ways and hopefully when there is more the writers capitalize on the small issues that may have caused older audience members like myself to be wary of viewing.

That being said there is no doubt in my mind that this film is worth recommending and worth seeing in theatres for any nostalgic 90’s nerd looking for new versions of their beloved Power Rangers. 

Iboy Review

Netflix has launched 2017 in a big way with two big releases of A series of Unfortunate Events and now their latest film iBoy. We all know the streaming film revolution is at an all time high and it is pretty awesome to be able to see a film on its release day without having to see red in your bank account.

iBoy is an interesting film with a very intriguing central premise. 16 year old Tom is given the power to control electronics after a shooting leaves pieces of his smart phone embedded in his head.

This film was just released on Jan 27th but it certainly caught my attention immediately with the premise. Stories are what always draw me when it comes to cinema and streaming from home will not change that. I became skepitcal about the future of Netflix original films when they partnered with Adam Sandler and Kevin James but this has definitely been a step up from any film made by those two in the past five years.

Lead by Bill Milner and Maisie Williams iBoy is a film made for this generation. It deals with a set of dark themes and very little of this film is light in tone. It creates a surreal world after Tom learns of his new abilities but it certainly brings real world issues into this ficitional fantasy ability. Maisie Williams is the real standout in this film showing her complete range of talent while adding layers to her character of Lucy. It is her character’s brutal rape and assault that puts Tom in the posistion to be shot. 

The ability that Tom recieves is the least important part of the film and moreso simply serves as the device that drives the film forward from a writers stand point. Had he merely learned absolute hacking skills the film could have been the exact same. That is why this entire film works so well. The feelings, the characters, the situations are all real world problems that often go unadressed. The writers added Toms ability for a neat touch on modern technology and it just elevated the film from mediocre to the first great film of 2017.

Netflix has proven once again that it is here to be the means for up and coming film makers to reach a wider audience quicker. If iBoy is a sign of things to come then I am most definitely intrigued with the possibilities of what may come next. It really seems like an exciting time to be a writer. Thanks Netflix. We needed to feel rejuvenation within the film industry and you are providing that. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What does it all mean? 

A long time ago…. More like early this morning instead of feeling the doom and despair of yet another work week film fans everywhere were treated to a reveal that has been hotly anticipated. We have the title for the new Star Wars film and boy it sure does come with some major implications.

Episode 8 will officially dawn the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We are still over 300 days away from release so at this point the only real plot point we have is now this name. It was the same way with The Force Awakens. I mean the original trilogy had names that were pretty straight forward and after the Phantom Menace we all stopped caring anyway so the newest two name reveals have generated a lot of buzz. Most the buzz is layer one at best, just fan theory and photo edits, but this is the first big drop from the studio and it comes fresh off of numerous uncertainties for the franchise. 

The Last Jedi has a lot of implications. Is Rey set to become the last Jedi after Luke dies? Are Rey and Luke combining to be the last resisting force known as the Jedi. It seems bold to kill Luke but it seems the recent aim of the Star Wars franchise is to be bolder and darker all around. The shift in tone was much more apparent in Rogue One but certainly evident in The Force Awakens. 

A lot of people have said Force Awakens was too much of a scene for scene reenactment of A New Hope and there was one very valid reason for it appearing this way. Nostalgia. The Last Jedi does not carry the same weight as The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens or even Revenge of the Sith if you need to hold onto hope that prequels didnt almost destroy the franchise. The Last Jedi almost seems like a mute plot point being raised. Almost reminding everyone of something we already know that the Jedi are a scarce bunch now. 

Overall I am still excited for the film. It comes with a heavy heart and anticipating a film almost seems hard knowing Carrie Fisher is gone. Its never an easy time when the world loses a generational icon as passionate and friendly as Carrie was. As a writer this film brings some intriguing story lines that now will need to be readdressed. Can we even consider a recast? That seems unlikely. Can we use CGI like they did in Rogue One? Sure of course, but clearly last time they tried to CGI Fishers face whoever did it failed miserably and should consider taking employment elswhere.

It is hard to say where the Star Wars saga will go in the next few years but I really hope that we get a respectable dose of Carrie Fisher with all of her cast mates, including her on screen brother Mark Hamill who shared a scene with Daisy Ridley last time out and that was it. I believe this was intended to be Mark Hamills last Star Wars film and quite possibly still could be. The Last Jedi if taken in the literal sense means final one so that has huge implications on a series that now has many more answers to give the fans. 

Patriots Day Review

Moments that define a painful point of time through out history usually become the next big screen movie with an American hero at the center. Mark Wahlberg is slowly becoming that man. Patriots Day is so far the best film where Wahlberg is starring in a film which has a core American moment at its center.

It’s not the type of film that shocks you. It’s not the type of film where what happens is full of plot twists and mind tricks. It is a film purely designed to make you feel things. It makes you think about the pain, shock and terror that the people of Boston felt while these two men were on the streets. Beyond how you feel about politics, Hollywood, actors and all of the media hoopla this film really displayed the tension and fear in a manner that made you feel like there has to be a way to end all this violence.

There has been violence and mass panic spread out in this world in alll locations way too much since I have started blogging. There are stories we don’t get to see about how much violence is a big part of certain parts of the world. This was the American perspective told through a medium that Americans love to pass their time engaging in. I’m taking a step back from looking at from a film perspective and looking at it from the perspective of a human being who wishes violence would end. I am sure we all wish this but as we have all laid witness to violence is all to close to home sometimes. The people of Boston felt this, the people of Brussels, Paris, Orlando and Aleppo have all also felt this pain and fear. I am not sure where the wheels fell off of Society and killing became something that we have become numb too. Violence is something we need to work on ending as a society and should never be something that we anticipate or wait for.

Films, television, books and music remind of us of the pain and they can also shed new light on a situation we may have known little about. However it is hard to spread a message with film that resonates world wide as already myself just by reading reviews of this film people even have a negative response to a film that has too much American heroism as the foundation. There are always going to be moments in time when nations come together and unify and usually it is after a moment like what happened in New York in 2001, Boston in 2013 and even now Orlando in 2016. American patrotism despite how you feel about the current state of politics in their country is a huge rallying point. The cities of Boston and New York banded together after moments of tragedy and showed the world how strong you can be together. All I am saying is that we need more of this but not just in moments of violence.

Peter Bergs film made us look at a moment in time and realize there was a lot going on during the near 100 hours it took to catch these two. The film had incredible pacing, character development and of course the acting was amazing. Wahlberg is the films top bill of course but it is the likes of JK Simmons, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Michael Beech and others that helped solidify this as more than just another film about America. What definitely made me feel the most and elevate this film above Bergs other American heroism films is the element of humour that was present. It made the film feel entirely more real and it made everything have that much more impact as a visual story.

One of the best scenes in the movie is the opening scene because it sets the tone for the entire fim and allows you to immediately connect with Tommy Saunders and Ed Davis as characters and integral parts of the film. The rest of the cast followed suit their own scenes of introduction and thus began a weaving narrative of how 100 hours changed everyones lives through out the city.

Patriots Day is most definitely a film worth seeing on the big screen. The films powerful message about love and unity is enough to give just about anyone the chills. A fine film. 

2017’s most anticiapted films

2017’s most anticiapted films

With the new year comes all the talk of what will be the next big thing in Cinema and what date we can expect it by. I get just as excited as everyone about what the 365 calendar days in 2017 can bring from the world of cinema. I am doing a top 10 most anticipated flicks list and then at the end of 2017 we will see how many of those made the list and how much the list changed.

10. King Arthur (May 12 release date)- Charlie Hunnam is due for a cinematic break through now that SoA is over. The dude has serious chops and this is his vehicle and his big chance. It would be nice to see him do it and gets the number 10 spot because I firmly believe Hunnam is a more than capable lead and this will no doubt prove it to anyone currently questioning it.

9. Pitch Perfect 3 (December 25th release date)- Yes I like Pitch Perfect one and two. The reason why is the cast is insanely talented and the movies are just straight up fun and easy to watch. This is probably setting up to become the final film in the franchise and with that comes closure to funny and dynamic characters. I see no issues with thia being a good film come December.

8. Murder on the Orient Express ( November 22nd release date) – A remake of the 1974 film of the same name, this film has a cast that looks phenomenal on paper and one can really only hope that translates well on the big screen. The star power involved includes Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh and Daisy Ridley. Factor in a good murder mystery plot line and this movie cannot find a way to derail (pun intented)

7. The Space Between Us ( February 3rd)- This should be the valentines day date movie, please dont spend your money on the piece of steaming garbage that will be 50 Shades Darker. That film has no plot and is only considered erotic because the male protagonist owns his company and lives in a penthouse. That being said Gary Oldman is in this movie and it has an interesting central premise about finding love and inner peace despite being born on another planet? Thoughtful and poetic right? Dont waste your money on a movie about meaningless sex and pick a movie with an actual plot.

 

6. Star Wars: Episode V III (December 15th release date) Rogue One was a great film as was the Force Awakens when it came out. We all crave more Star Wars but this comes with a heavy heart due to the passing of Carrie Fisher. It is going to be another fine entry into the saga and Carrie Fisher is probably going to be a large part of this film. It no doubt changes the future of Star Wars and leaves us feeling heart broken and lost. Star Wars still has a lot of questions the fans want answers to and this film is sure to raise and probably many more.

5.Patriots Day (January 13th release date)- Mark Wahlberg is the new big moment big movie guy. He is taking on movies with an epicentre grounded in American tragedy and based on American heroism. So far it has been successful for Wahlberg and this film also has Kevin Bacon and John Goodman as supporting cast and that peaks my interest. 

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th release date)- It is the third time in 15 years we are going to be seeing a new Spidey on the big screen but it is the first time he will be apart of the MCU and makes it all the more delightful as a fan of Spiderman. Of course the cast list looks good on paper but so did the cast of Batman Vs Superman and look how big of a mess that became. This film still carries high hopes for me as 2017 is just beginning and I guess we should never judge a book by its cover and we should never let the past change the way we look at future entries into film series.

3. Wonder Woman (June 2nd release date)- DC has a big year ahead of them as well and this is going to head that for them. Gal Gadot was impressive in BVS, one of the films only delights and she has proven she is going to be a strong female lead actress and what better way to give her confidence than to cast her as the most iconic female character of all time. Suicide Squad was the best release yet for DC on screen and Wonder Woman should continue that upward trend for them as well.

2. Live by Night (January 13th release date)- Ben Affleck writing directing and starring in an adaptation of one of my favorite novels of the last decade. This movie has absolute high expectations. I want liquor, guns, drugs, shootouts and for the adapatation to follow the book closely. If there is one person out there who can handle this kind of film it most definitely is Ben Affleck.

1. Dunkirk (July 21st release date)- Christopher Nolan has proven over and over that he holds the title of Hollywoods most ambitious film maker and that should serve him well here. Based on a true story of a rescue that seemed all but impossible because the Germans had allie forces surrounded and cut off; Nolan has chosen to rely on some the regulars from his past films to help bring this amazing true story to the big screen. Nolan films usually do not make me worry at all about how good they will be and this one seems poised to be one of his best yet. 

Two worlds, Two comic book origins. Two very different paths taken.

Every show has to face at some point what their eventual endgame is going to become. From a writers stand point this should be something you already know right from day one. The conclusion is the most important of a three act story. It is understandable that basic premise of story telling becomes a little more difficult when dealing with a tv show as the three act story is done over the course of 22 episodes and not in 2 hours. However finales and final seasons matter in TV. A show that actually gets to end properly is a blessing as many shows are one season and done or are cancelled half way through season 3 when cancellation is announced. If a show says next season is final season and has 22 episodes to wrap up all the burning questions we all enjoy that. We all get behind that and go on one last emotional rollercoaster with our beloved characters. 

Sons of Anarchy did it. The Wire did it. Breaking Bad did it. Game Of Thrones has done it. Walking Dead it is time you did it too. Gotham, I think you should too. That is not to say anything bad about the production values of the show, the merchandising money, the network income or anything financially. This is coming from someone who just loves story. Figure out your end games please. Know that now is the time to go out and end huge. Announce even two more seasons each. Walking Dead ends at 9 and Gotham at 5. That leaves you 2 and a half seasons to figure out what you want to say and the stories you want to tell. 

Walking Dead would benefit the most from doing this. Let the comic book continue beyond the show. It started first, let it continue beyond the show. The show since season 4 has been on a steady decline in quality from a writers perspective. It has become a mess of people talking up the hype and the show simply just not delivering. I’m not one immersed in the hype of needing the show explained afterword or needing to have the cast talk about how the back half is unlike the rest of the series up to this point.

Yes viewership has declined throught out the first half of season 7 but the pacing was much different and actually allowed for character growth in some of the characters who have previously been seen as minor characters. Negans new world has brought feelings forth in all of the characters and it is good to see the writers show how that affects everyone and not just Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Maggie. It was good to see Aaron tag a long with Rick, it was good to see Father Gabriel thinking quickly on his feet and helping the group. It has been most impressive to see the charge toward all out war lead by Rosita who is a strong female presence in the comic series but has been almost forgotten in the show. It has been nice to see Christian Serratos explore her range a bit more as an actress. She is just as talented as the other actresses currently staffed by the Walking Dead and it is good to see them use her for a story arc and not just have her be another pretty face in the background. 

These are all reasons why Walking Dead needs to think about the end game. We now have a core set of characters who are heading towards the biggest fight of their lives. It is now or never in terms of survival and fighting so it should be all out go for broke with story telling. Throw all the emotion you can at us in the next two and a half seasons and end with phenomenal story telling that brings the show back to being one of the greats. Please writers and producers dont let the show become just another popular show that is all about the merchandise and not about story. We have been down this road before with both film and television studios that are willing to sacrifice quality for quantity which ensures profit longer.

Gotham needs to think of an end game because frankly it is creating a scenario in which Bruce Wayne will be a thirty year old Batman fighting villains that are in a nursing home. Gotham is not a show that needs the presence of Bruce Wayne in order to be successful and to tell a great story. It needs to be the story of Gothams rise to the seedy underworld that needs Batman’s light in the sky as a means to holding onto hope in a world that keeps growing darker and darker.

Gotham has plenty of potential story lines that it can explore but the longer Bruce continues to be a part of it the more Batman seems to grow less and less important for the end of the series. Jerome is slated to come back, announce a season 4 and 5 renewal. Have season 4 focus on a young Harleen Quinzel meeting the clown prince of crime but dont have that interact with the main story until the final season when Joker and Harley are the main villains and we see another go around with some of our favorite villains through out the series. 

We have all been told that the final image of Gotham will be some reference to Batman so we know that is inevitable final moments and a show like Gotham cannot sustain itself more than 5 seasons with the current narrative. Gotham has never really had much of a growing fanbase. It has kinda staggered a long at roughly 3.50 million per episode. That is decent numbers for Fox but not great numbers overall compared to shows like Empire, This is Us, NCIS and others.  Gotham does not have the numbers on its side every year when it comes to renewal and I am afraid one of these years Fox execs will merely just pull the plug on a show that they consider no one to be watching anyway. Gotham has never quite enjoyed the numbers Walking Dead has had over the years.

That being said no show has really grown from season to season the way the Walking Dead has. Were the producers and writers never fearful of this moment that people and fans obviously stopped caring about the show and ditch it. The season premiere had just over 17 million and seven episodes later episode 8 the mid season finale had 10.6 million viewers.  A lot of shows are happy averaging the numbers Walking Dead just lost but there must be someone over at AMC who has watched both the Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead struggle with numbers lately.

Let me just be straight for a minute more so regarding Walking Dead. I keep hearing these rumours the show will run forever, they have enough character progression for Rick to last 6 or 7 more seasons. The simple answer I can give right now is that if the show goes beyond season 10 I dont think my viewership will go with it. Yes I am just 1 person in huge fanbase of the show but clearly I am not the only one starting to feel that way about where the show is heading. The show simply does not have 6 seasons left in the creative writing aspect. The show cannot just have big bad after big bad for 6 more years. Walking Dead here me now. I am giving you the chance to figure out what show you want to be, what legacy you want to leave on the landscape of television. I am also warning you now that you have three seasons to figure it out because beyond that I cant take the predictable deaths of fan favorite characters and the non important deaths of side characters who finally get screen time just to die at the end of that episode. 

Shows must face their own inevitable ending but sometimes the hardest thing for a fan to do is give up on a show or shows that just cannot seem to admit that it is time to go which is looking to be the eventual thing I will have to do with Walking Dead a show that I would once not leave my house the next day for until I had seen the new episode. Please Walking Dead dont go down this road. There is still time to end on a high note.