Chernobyl (2019)

In this miniseries, we return to 1986 to when the worst man-made disaster struck Eastern Europe, when the no. 4 reactor exploded from Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant. As a close representation of true history, this show tries to reminisce in the truth of what actually happened back in 1986. Although, as a dramatized version, not everything reflects the truth such as a character representing numerous scientists within one. However, I believe the facts within this dramatized history programme to be pretty damn close to the realities of this tragedy which just makes the episodes that much more distressing and horrifying.

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‘Chernobyl’ is a masterpiece of a programme. The whole execution of this dramatized tragedy has been phenomenal to watch. The cinematography alone was outstanding. The actual look of the programme just brought this disaster to screen in the most horrific honest light. The show really did well to create these iconic shots, such as the horrifying scene that involved the Bridge of Death, or the eerie thrilling scene in which men sacrifice themselves to enter the nuclear plant, or finally the shots of people trying to rescue the land with masks sheltering their faces. Every aspect within lighting, sound and picture came together to add so much effect in one television programme.

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The emotion on screen was also outstanding. As an audience, you watch the first episode as the knowledge of the nuclear reactor explosion becomes to be known by officials. You watch as experts are called in and people higher up try to cover up what has happened. The understatement of this tragedy is astounding. Then you move through the episodes understanding this extreme risk of radiation with scientific excellence mostly executed from two characters on screen: Valery Legasov (Jared Harris) and Ulana Khomyuk (Emily Watson). The episodes are unfolded where these two and Boris Shcherbina (Stellan Skarsgard) try and cope with the effects and minimise more damage to the continent. The audience visualises the true heroes of the disaster and the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of people dedicated to saving the world from nuclear destruction. There is a lot of emotion portrayed on screen executed for every audience to experience the deadly cause of this nuclear explosion.

Chernobyl
Episode 2: Stellan Skarsgård, Jared Harris.
photo: Liam Daniel/HBO

If you haven’t watched ‘Chernobyl’, I would definitely recommend it. All of the actors on screen seem to be so excellently chosen to portray as close as a representation of this true event; the smallest aspects have been taken into consideration to add to the phenomenal effect of this miniseries. Some parts are so hard to watch, particularly as they reflect the truth of the matter – the fatality, the realism, the tragedy. ‘Chernobyl’ is a phenomenal, moving, heart-breaking piece of dramatized history on screen.

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Good Girls (2018 – )

Anyone that reads my reviews will probably know that I watch a lot of television shows… After catching up with ‘Big Little Lies’, ‘The Blacklist’ and ‘iZombie’, I felt a new binge watch needed to be found – so I chose ‘Good Girls’ on Netflix. Starring Christina Hendricks, Retta and Mae Whitman (from ‘The Duff’), it seemed like a strong female lead for a comical crime show and well it is!

‘Good Girls’ follows three suburban mothers, Beth, Annie and Ruby, all in desperate need for money but suffering with everyday family expenses. Beth discovers her husband has lost all the money, Annie gets told her ex wants to challenge her in a custody battle for their child and finally, Ruby’s daughter needs medical help that costs $10,000 per month. In their desperate situations, they turn to the only thing they can think of doing, robbing a grocery store. Although, this doesn’t turn out the way they think, stealing $30,000 and end of, nope instead they steal half a million dollars from a street gang – and this boss is not happy. Instead, an alliance forms, the ‘good girls’ do jobs and get their cut of the money. Simple right?

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Let’s start with Beth (Christina Hendricks). Beth’s character seems to portray the perfect suburban mother, does everything for her children, a housewife etc etc etc. However as the episodes progress, Beth is the one who starts to thrill the most in these crime adventures. She seems to have a much darker side seeking for an excitement in her life. We soon discover her life isn’t as perfect as it seems when her husband is discovered cheating on her. Her husband, Dean, who by the way is played by Shaggy from ‘Scooby-Doo the Movie’ (Matthew Lillard), is a character to dislike. Watching Beth’s character change is exciting in the show as she keeps returning to her loyal friends with a “I did something…”

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Secondly, Beth’s little sister, Annie (Mae Whitman). I think Annie is probably by favourite character. She’s hilarious in her blunt ways, but she has reason for her hate throughout the series. Annie seems to be the character who jumps to the crime solutions to their problems in her feisty ways. Her character is quickly loved by the audience as she is the one caught in the act and she becomes manipulated and used in the most horrible way. Her strength is phenomenal in this programme, you become attached to her character very quickly along with the hate of another. Moreover, her relationship with her daughter, Sadie, is brilliant, both are great characters.

Finally, Ruby (Retta). Ruby’s expressions are the comical genius that make this programme hilarious. If Beth starts a sentence with “I did something”, just watch for Ruby’s expressions, they are phenomenal. Ruby, I think, is probably the character most down to earth, with her heart-warming family of the most-loving father and her great children, one who needs medical help asap. Her story is definitely the one to feel most sympathetic for as Ruby would do anything to save her little girl’s life.

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‘Good Girls’ is a great show and I really hope it goes on to more seasons. It’s got everything in these episodes; comedy, crime. Some moments you are shocked by what has happened, others you are laughing at the response or escalation this one grocery store robbery has come to. It’s extremely cleverly done with the boss of the gang weirdly loved by the audience. The three women’s relationship is adored. How far would you think these mothers could go for their families?

Never Let Me Go (2010)

So I bought this film on a whim, understandable as it starred Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, a great Spider-Man, so it was added to my extensive DVD collection. However, if seen before, I wouldn’t say I would have actually bought it. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film, because it is far from that. My problem was the depressing nature of the storyline, there felt like there was no hope and I didn’t really see the point other than to sadden the audience.

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The film is split among three phases of the main protagonists’ life. We start in the present, in 1994, and we go to childhood, 1978. We stay here for a while, then the middle is possessed in 1985, then back to 1994. Now introducing the National Donor Programme, I told you it was a sad film. In 1978, the main three children, Kathy (Izzy Meikle-Small), Tommy (Charlie Rowe) and Ruth (Ella Purnell), were in an extremely strict school, Hailsham. The children were tracked by bracelets, had to take pills every day, and going past the boundaries spreads horrific scary stories of death. The real reason why there are there becomes abundantly clear when they are finally told the truth: when they grow up they are to give vital organs to people who need them, they do this until they “complete”, or in other words, die. Growing up Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) all know they will die for anyone who needs an organ. It’s a horribly sad film.

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‘Never Let Me Go’ is a film with a lot of deeper meanings, but by the end it’s all about death. You get to know these characters from childhood into adulthood – they are only on this planet to die for others. You explore the memories of drama and romance, of lost love and of hope. You watch as they try and cling on to every emotion and aspect they can before donations start. The three protagonists try and live their lives before their time is over. It is a beautifully well-done film full of drama based on a novel of the same name. Ready for a cry?

Nerve (2016)

The advertisement around this film was screaming excellence, best mystery thriller of the year, so of course I had to watch it and put my own opinion on it. Plus it’s got Dave Franco and Emma Roberts, who’s going to say no to that?

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco as Vee and Ian, find themselves being forced to pair up when it comes to a game of Nerve. “Are you a watcher or a player?” Vee has been a watcher, until Sydney (Emily Meade), her best friend, who is a player, pushed Vee to do something with her life. Taking life through dares, Vee, paired with Ian, seems to be getting the worst dares. Something Sydney becomes quite jealous of. From watching the trailer, to be honest I thought it was going to be a bit more of a thriller from the start than it was, but I felt that it built up characters much more than I thought it would. Not saying this is a bad thing.

Nerve - Vee and Ian

The way tension was built was extreme. There were parts of the film where I couldn’t watch, too much stress all at once. This was all because of the camera angles, they were very clever in creating this tension and making it extremely stressful for the audience. Literally, times in the film where I had to turn away, worried for what might happen. This made the film crazy and a clever thriller. I felt the film was all building up to the ending, and it was a very good ending at that. Mix of shock, unsure what will happen, unsure what just happened. Very clever. I also loved the excellent use of technology in this film. This is what the film is revolved around as Nerve is a game on the internet, the aspect around technology had to be good and it was. There is a constant unknowing of what is going to happen.

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As Vee and Ian start to become more famous with their stunts, the mysterious watchers watch and the game only gets more dangerous, more risky, more deadly. They had no idea what it would build up to but now they have to win.

The Lion King (2019)

As Disney are doing remakes, I think everyone was excited to find that Disney’s next project was the classic ‘The Lion King’ from 1994. Everyone must know the story of ‘The Lion King’ – it contains one of the most distressing moments in Disney films, the death of a beloved lion king. This film only makes this moment seem more real, more heart-breaking in Simba’s pleas for help and Mufasa’s stillness in the gorge.

The Lion King 2019 - Simba and Zazu

This film is so visually pleasing, it’s a beautiful film in its special effects. It follows the 1994 version extremely accurately. Except there are a few differences, which are happily welcomed. There seems to be more of a context, a background story, between Scar and Mufasa. Additionally, there are a few new songs. The songs are taken a little more realistically, rather than animals standing upon each other like in ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ – where in the animation this was a fantastic spectacle, the new film takes a turn in adding to this realistic feel of these Pride Lands. ‘In the Jungle’ was a brilliant scene, with the animals dancing, the immense jungle in which the “outcasts” have been left with is stunning and explored during this song amongst other scenes. I cannot forget to mention the little snap of a beloved song from another Disney film, which I loved!

Now with the songs, as it is a musical, I can’t say all the songs were better than the original, however all were enjoyable. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Beyoncé (I know unpopular opinion), and she seemed to make the songs a lot more flowery than the classic originals. For example, I definitely prefer the original of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’. Although saying this, it didn’t take anything away from the film as obviously the songs have to be sung again for a remake!

Pumbaa and Timon are excellent as usual! They hold so much comical spirit. With Seth Rogen voicing Pumbaa I wasn’t certain if I would like the outcome, but I was so wrong with this one! He was excellent. I loved the new twist to ‘Hakuna Matata’ with it’s added comical moments. Also, Pumbaa’s brilliant line of “I may run away from Hyenas, but I stand up to bullies” was fabulous. Pumbaa and Timon seem to have more to say in this film and hold a lot more as characters than just the friends Simba found when he ran away. They are brilliant characters in both the 1994 and 2019 versions.

The Lion King 2019 - Simba and Scar

The whole movie seemed to hold a lot of modern elements in its meanings. Which should be loved by the audience in the strength of the female characters not just male on screen. Scar still creeps me out, he has to be one of the darkest villains on Disney screen. There does seem to be more violent in this film, compared the first original, which is probably why it’s actually a PG rather than a U. I really did enjoy this new remake. Loved that they kept the voice actor of Mufasa as James Earl Jones the same as the original too! ‘The Lion King’ (2019) is a visually beautiful film which holds the best elements of the original and adds some new great additions too. I don’t know whether it would beat the original classic version, because that will always hold as one of the best Disney Classics in nostalgia and perfect songs. I do prefer Rowan Atkinson as Zazu too. Nevertheless, both are enjoyable and still an emotional rollercoaster whenever Mufasa is on screen.

Big Little Lies (2017 – )

What an excellent explosive series! From episode one so much was going on, but I couldn’t really understand anything. Although, as episodes progress you slowly learn more and more about the characters of the show. How all the characters have a different plotline, mostly haunting and dark. The upper-class parents that seem perfect are far from the front that they all put up. Drama kicks off in the first episode with accusations and the new single mother and son of Monterey being the centre of hate and protection.

First of all, the actresses of this show are phenomenal. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern. Second season also brings Meryl Streep – which has to be mentioned, she’s outstanding. The women of the show are truly great, they all execute the drama of the show brilliantly as you’re drawn into their lives so quickly. The season jumps from future to present day as your intrigued from the get-go. There’s been a murder and we have no idea who has died or who killed them…

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The show has a clever narration to the film, opinions from teachers and other parents, as the police interview in the future which reflects as we watch the present day. I also have to mention the brilliance of the music throughout the programme, which just adds to the enjoyment of the episodes. Furthermore, the camera and cinematography are fabulous. These are just a few unique elements of the show that just add to the excellence of the show and the understanding of its Emmy Award winning status.

I would definitely recommend this programme, if you’re looking for a new scandal, lies and drama-filled show. All the female stars are fantastic and so empowering to watch on show as you feel all the emotions of every single moment from them. Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) is a superb character, flawed but also funny. Nicole Kidman’s performance as Celeste is also outstanding, heart-breaking to the point where it feels so realistic. Then there’s Jane (Shailene Woodley), who is a character haunted, there is so much to this character, that when you uncover more you still feel there is so much left unsaid. Finally, I don’t really understand the hate that Laura Dern’s character seemed to get, Renata is a mother in agony, desperate for the safety of her child. The children are also brilliant in the show, particularly the role of Chloe (Darby Camp) who brings her own comedy to a drama show. ‘Big Little Lies’ does tackle some real issues to the point where it is hard to watch. It probably is inappropriate for younger ages with sex, nudity and swearing.

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‘Big Little Lies’ becomes a show to quickly draw you in as you become desperate to uncover everything that has happened, past, present and future. I raced through the first season of only seven episodes in an evening and a morning. It becomes very addictive to watch, where there are shocks and surprises the whole way. There are a lot of lies and secrets in this show: no one is what they seem to the public eye.

 

If you’re a fan of this show, you will also like ‘Dead to Me’ review here.

New Amsterdam (2018 – )

‘New Amsterdam’ is a drama set in a hospital of the same name as the title. At New Amsterdam, there’s a new change from day one – there’s a new medical director in town. And he’s not one to make the small changes, but rather firing a whole department in the first meeting. This new medical director of New Amsterdam is ready to make the changes needed to break the system to put the patients first; money means nothing, the patients are always at the centre. But quickly you find out this medical director is also a patient of New Amsterdam.

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You quickly discover the key protagonists of the show. The new medical director, Dr Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold). The man behind all of the changes, the disruptions of the hospital, reinventing the term understood as public health care. Head of oncology, Dr Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman). Who returns to the hospital after a long break away from treating cancer to advertising the hospital; she returns to her doctorate taking hold of the head of oncology once again. Head a neurology, Dr Vijay Kapoor (Anupam Kher). This man is the strong believer in understanding his patients through talk. Head of cardiology, Dr Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims). Reynolds is given the large task of no cardiology department and building his own after the others are fired. Head of psychiatry, Dr Iggy Frome (Tyler Labine). Iggy has to be my favourite character, his dedication to his patients shows no bounds. Head of the Emergency Department, Dr Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery). Bloom’s character takes a large journey through season one as she starts to lose the grips of her job taken over by addiction of a different sort. All of the protagonists are flawed and feel so realistic, believable. It really is what makes this show brilliant. They are all so different, all characters are quick to be loved by their audience.

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The show is constantly busy with new patients and emergencies left, right and centre. There are many plot lines to each episode, but they come easy to follow. I was hooked from the first episode. Not going to lie, I have probably cried in the majority of the episodes. The story lines feel very realistic, therefore they become very emotional. You feel for every character that crosses the screen. ‘New Amsterdam’ became a show I wanted to pay all my attention to and not be on my phone while watching, it took all my attention and I was hooked into the show. A brilliant drama that I can’t wait for season two of. There are twists and turns, drama to not be able to predict – anything can happen in a hospital.