Ranking Black Mirror (season 3)

So I only recently realised I’d never actually finished watching season 3, missing out on episode 6, well I watched it and can now make my definitive ranking. This was the first season that was more widely available to audiences worldwide as it aired on Netflix exclusively as opposed to Channel 4 like previous seasons.

Hated In The Nation (episode 6)

One of the more recent episodes I’ve seen and at feature length (being just shy of 90 minutes long), this episode feels like… a feature length film and less like a Black Mirror episode but it still contains the series dark sensibilities and cold social commentary. Featuring swams of autonomous bees that are used to attack and essentially kill people that get targeted through a viral hash tag on social media, the allegory is on the nose and obvious, the bees representing the swarms of people attacking individuals for perceived bad actions/behaviour.

The commentary is all the more biting because this happens right now, not to the extent of people being killed by robotic bees but you get the point, people have been hounded to death online and online bullying is a real thing, it’s a dark and sickening side to the internet but a side that we all know exists. Themes aside, the way the episode is shot, the pacing and the acting is all on point as well, resulting in a very high quality end product and the best episode of the season.


Playtest (episode 2)

Playtest feels like an episode right out of The Twilight Zone, an intriguing premise, twists and turns galore and an unwravelling plot that has you pretty much hooked from the offset. The acting is quite good in the episode as well and helps to make some of the more horror like scenes work, it’s a more psychological horror than a thriller in fact and there are some pretty genuinely unsettling moments. There’s also an interesting commentary on new technology, playing into our fears about the unknown when it comes to new technology and things that could go horribly wrong, not to mention the pretty harrowing and gut punch of a twist, episodes like this are what have the series so memorable.


Shut up and dance (episode 3)

One of the darkest episode in the whole series and another on the nose commentary of social medias dark side, this episode feels very poignant as we follow an individual who is harassed and forced to undertake crazy tasks to avoid his dark secret being exposed to the world, all for the enjoyment of people online despite him going through a living hell. You’re left after watching the episode wondering what the point of all it was, ruining someones life just because you can just for your own twisted entertainment? It seems completely sadistic and cruel but hey, trolls actually exist… again this feels all too real and helped with the emotional impact of the story.


Nosedive (episode 1)

Bryce Dallas Howard stars as the main character in this story just 5 minutes from now in a twisted alternate reality that sees everyones lives being rated, lower rated people are shunned out of society and frowned upon while the higher rated people live their best lives, it’s a twisted, warped version of reality but perception really can be real. And with social media, this concept of rating each others lives again feels very modern and not too far off in the future, though it’s taken to the extreme. I like the central message presented as well as I take it, that it’s okay to live how you want to and not feel like you need to conform to societal expectations, presenting a fake, superficial facade of yourself just to please others, I mean life’s too short for that anyway!


Men Against Fire (episode 5)

A weird sort of dystopian VR nightmare, this episodes story didn’t quite grab me despite an interesting looking premise, the acting is okay as well but the plot just felt a bit samey and I could sort of see where they were going with the twist/reveal which didn’t have too much of an impact.


San Junipero (episode 4)

This just might be the episode from season 3 I’ve seen mentioned the most on social media and in positive terms but it didn’t really do anything for me, in part because I’ve seen plots like this before in different forms and it wasn’t anything new, though despite that I appreciate that at the heart of the story is a touching, somewhat bittersweet love story.

Ranking Black Mirror (season 2)

So Black Mirror‘s sort of a brilliant anthology show that I’ve never really talked about on TheDoc but now with its growing popularity and everyone knowing about it because of Netflix, it’s on just about everyones radar and for good reason, with the quality of the writing and directing in a lot of the episodes.


White Bear (episode 2) 

There’s something satisfying yet also a bit twisted in seeing people get their comeuppance and taste of justice in the way Black Mirror does it anyway, but an intriguing premise and a feeling of karma drives the story, as we follow a bystander of an accident who didn’t help, now being recorded and watched by people as she seemingly embarks on a sort of reality show. The story is tense, keeps you guessing and makes a clear allegory to societies obsession with watching other people, especially at their lowest, the bystander effect is a real thing and is all too common in this day and age.


The Waldo Moment (episode 3)

Stinging political satire and all the more relevant in the age of Donald Trump and the circus-ification of politics, the premise is completely absurd but at the same time all to real and poignant in this day and age. A story that feels very relevant, even years before the state of politics as we know it now. It’s an interesting and it makes for a very irreverent, sarcastic take on the gamification of many aspects of society, including politics and how making a joke out of something can lead to a run away impact / monster that you can’t control anymore, just take a look at viral trends for a sort of comparison.This is Black Mirror at some of its most satirical and sardonic nature.


Be Right Back (episode 1) 

‘Be right back’ didn’t really resonate with me that much but I appreciate the idea behind the macabre premise, though maybe because I’ve seen the idea so many times before it didn’t really make that much of an impact on me. That being said, the acting is decent and there is a strong emotional core to the story of two lovers trying to connect beyond death in a rather superficial way via technology. The emphasis here in my view being that technology can only imitate and provide virtual experiences, which can never beat the real thing, no matter how close they come…. even with futuristic technology.

Ranking Black Mirror (season 1)

So there’s this little anthology show called Black Mirror that you may have heard of and may be watching right now…. or very recently, well it’s great and though I’ve never really talked about it on here, I’ve been watching it since it started here in the UK in 2011, exploring dark, dystopian futures that expand on modern lifes obsession with technology. I also love sci-fi and modern/emerging tech so the show really hits the spot for me, anyway I’m almost through season 4 and will rank that soon but I’m starting off with the first season and moving forward. Here’s my ranking (I haven’t seen The Entire history of you).


The National Anthem (episode 1)

A princess in the royal family has been kidnapped and her kidnapper well… he has a very specific set of demands for UK prime minister Michael Callow, forcing him to take drastic measures in order to get her back, in a very politically charged climate at the time of the episode and even more so now in the UK, the premise felt very of the times albeit a bit to extremes (like every Black Mirror premise). But with some good acting (Rory Kinnear as the PM), great tension and a plot that kept you guessing, you really didn’t know how it was going to end and that kept things interesting, also delving into the fact of being faced with impossible situations, would you humiliate yourself and possibly end your career to save someones life? It’s a immoral and dark question you’ll probably never face but epitomizes the essence of the show.

it may be one of the more forgotten episode among recent seasons but it’s still one of the best.


Fifty Million Merits (episode 2)

A biting sarcastic look at reality TV and the lengths people go to, to get fame and fortune, this is very much a commentary on our current society and the sometimes unfortunate mental state of people who go on such shows and the way they get exploited for views or get surprising opportunities to continue to work in the media off the back of controversial behaviour or actions. With an interesting ending to boot that is genuinely quite surprising, almost undermining the whole premise of the episode, it serves as some great satire to the way reality TV and parts of the media work. Also an early starring role for Daniel Kaluuya (star of Get Out, also in the upcoming Black Panther)

Top 5 anticipated 2018 films

2017 is dead, long live 2018… yeah I know, we just crossed into the new year but I’ve already seen the likes of Collider video and Schmoesknow with top 10 lists for films out next year and I’m sure you already have a handful you’re looking forward to so yeah, here are my top 5 films I’m anticipating, not top 10 for a change because I always end up not liking 3-4 films on each list I make each year. (US release dates by default).

And I just want to do something different this time around and also they’re in no particular order so here goes.


Black Panther – February 16th

Director: Ryan Coogler

More Marvel films being on my list go pretty much goes without saying at this point but Black Panther in a word looks, slick, it’s a Marvel film with a difference as we’re not really getting T’chalas origin story as he has already donned the Panther persona but seeing more of Wakanda is pretty intriguing. An almost all black cast is a first for a superhero and a Marvel film and the choice of actors is also on point with a wealth of talented actors, the set pieces look fun and the melding of tradition and culture


Avengers: Infinity War – May 4th

Director: Joe & Anthony Russo

No top 5 or 10 list can really be complete without Infinity War, maybe some people are a bit tired of the super hero formula that Marvel has nailed but a lot of people are pumped and understandably so, the crescendo of the MCU as we’ve known it may see some character deaths and introductions as we slide into phase 4 and get a whole new style of Marvel films. Based somewhat on the Infinity War storyline, the stakes have never been higher and seeing all of your favourite Marvel characters come crashing together stokes excitement and interest the likes of which we haven’t seen since well, The Avengers though Batman V Superman also got a lot of filmgoers excited. Anyway I’m expecting good things, a darker tone, some resolution to character arcs and some impactful drama, I can’t wait!


Venom – October 5th

Director: Ruben Fleischer

A standalone film in the Spiderverse (sort of) starring Tom Hardy as Venom? I’ve been signed up to this film for a few months now since we heard of Hardy being cast at least, the concept is a brave and bold one and could spark a new wave of comic book films centred on antagonists if it’s a big enough of a hit. The film being outside of Marvel could also allow it to be quite dark and adult which is intriguing, we could see interesting sides to Eddie Brock/Venom, especially with such a talented lead in Tom Hardy.


Incredibles 2 – June 15th

Director: Brad Bird

The sequel we’ve also sort of been low key waiting for is just 6 months away, following up on one of the best superhero and animated films ever really, the premise for the story is brilliant and executed so well off of such a straightforward idea that I’m intrigued to see where Pixar takes the story. Hopefully still focusing on the heavily family side to things and the humour that derives from it along with some well done action, it should be a good one.


The Predator – August 3rd

Directed by: Shane Black

Shane Black doing a Predator film? Interesting… I’ve never been a huge Predator fan but I’m quite eager to see a new film in the franchise and some new ideas for stories, the predator is still one of the most uniquely made and interesting aliens in sci-fi that hasn’t quite been done justice in films aside maybe 2 (Predator and Predators), so we’re well overdue for some quality, hard hitting new Predator films.

Notable mentions:

The New Mutants, Solo (A Star Wars Story), Deadpool 2, The Purge: The Island, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – review

Yorgos Lanthimos directs this psychological horror/mystery film, centred around a seemingly normal family, headed by a celebrated surgeon whose life is flipped upside down after he befriends a mysterious teenage boy, the film stars Colin Farrel, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy, Alicia Silverstone and Sunny Siljic.

Boy do I have thing to say about this film… but let’s start off with the seemingly inherent hypocrisy a reviewer can face when it comes to mysterious, enigmatic films like this that present an intriguing premise but offer little in the way of explanation and I’m guilty of this, either quite liking a film with such a set up or completely being turned off, I quite liked It Comes At Night for example but I left The Killing of a Sacred Deer a bit disappointed.The frustrating thing is that slow burn mystery horror films like this are almost all set up the same narratively but can elicit such vastly different responses and in itself, that’s a great thing about films. The films’ tone and set up quite reminds me of Dogtooth actually, also by Lanthimos, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

But honestly the film’s just not great, despite a pretty good cast as well, Colin Farrel as Steven, figurehead of the Murphy family and a caring family man, alongside Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two kids Kim and Bob, they’re a pretty normal family but then again they’re kind of not aside from the parents, the kids are sort of twistedfgrom the offset, even without the even stranger Martin (Barry Keoghan) coming into the fray. And this is part of where the film loses me, it’s almost like the writing is trying to make the film strange and unnerving right from the start with very odd dialogue and line delivery that sticks out so much it had me practically saying “no one talks like this” and with such dialogue, Lanthimos seems to like flattening certain characters in his films to almost one dimensional levels, making it hard to connect with or empathize with them. This is in part played for black comedy I’m sure, with the Murphy kids especially talking so bluntly to each other and their parents without a hint of humor to the absurdity of what they’re saying, the kids are also strangely emotionless throughout the film and this distance from the characters makes it hard to empathise with them.

The dialogue is so bad that it both takes you out of the film in fact and reduces any potential emotional impact and I struggled to really come to terms with anything that was happening in a logical sense (much like the parents in the story I suppose) but with no real backstory for Martin and no explanation of anything whatsoever, things happen and the story goes it course…. and that’s basically it. There are some well framed shots and long takes that linger on a bit too long to help evoke a feeling of nervousness and an unsettling feeling does pervade the film so it does succeed in that regard, with Barry Keoghan giving a truly twisted and bizarre but nonetheless memorable performance. While a scene in particular was so disturbing that I could barely watch it – this coming from a guy that is un-phased by the vast majority of horror films.

Anyway the film did nothing for me despite instilling an unsettled feeling and I feel like the story is a big missed opportunity, structurally it could have been put together better, especially with the writing. For more detail on it, the premise is sort of based on an Ancient Greek tragedy – ‘Iphigenia in Auglis’ and reading up on it does bring the basic layout of the story to a more coherent place but this modern adaptation of it left me well, un-phased. Because no film deserves a pass on good writing and plot, for the sake of the viewing experience, no matter how big or small it is.


. Poor pacing

. Bad writing, trying to evoke an unnatural feeling through dialogue that feels too forced

. Plot feels a bit hollow and void of any impact, in part due to the writing and detached tone of the film

Happy New Year!

So we’re here finally, 2017 was a hell of a year for a number of reasons, not the best year for everyone but I’ll take the good with the bad, there were ups and downs, pleasant surprises and disappointments but here’s to 2018 and the hope for things to be better. Personally I want to focus on progression and development of my own ideas (especially with creative stuff) and I want to try and stay positive in my thinking as much as I can – trust me it helps!

Anyway Happy New Year to you and yours, to everyone about to cross over and everyone already in the future in the new year, I hope you have a great night tonight, whatever you’re up to and theDoc will see you next year.

2017 comic book films ranked

2017 was another year chock full of comic book/superhero films,and one of the best years in recent years, some might say, Marvel had another strong year but so did DC I’d say, with Wonder Woman being a bonafide hit and showing the DCEU can do it right, yes there were ups and downs with other films but we can go into that another time. For now, let’s rank the comic book films of this year.


1) Spiderman: Homecoming – 8/10

One of 3 Marvel and MCU films this year, the latest Spiderman film is an entertaining welcome for Spidey to the MCU in the funniest Spiderman film to date, Tom Holland very much embodies a teenage Peter Parker in his insecurities, relationships and coming to terms with being a superpowered teenager, we don’t get bored with the same old origin story as well because Peter is already a semi-experienced hero, which is fun. The vulture makes for a fairly good villain as well, especially for a Marvel film, Michael Keaton espouses genuine malice about him and feels ‘real’, while the supporting cast aside Keaton does a good job and makes for fun character interactions due to the films top notch writing. Oh and Robert Downey Jr, having added Iron Man in the film never hurts.


2) Wonder Woman – 7.5/10

One of the best films in the DCEU is definitely Wonder Woman (not the best, Man Of Steel is obviously) and a wonderful film it is, with some great visuals, coherent, straightforward storytelling and interesting exploration of lore and legends in the DC universe, we get to see WWI told with a difference and it makes for an intriguing viewing. Gal Gadot is a superb in the role and plays Diana in her wisdom, strength and naivety with likability and accuracy, playing off well with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, oh and don’t forget the set pieces as well which are pretty great, showing just a taste of what Diana can do.


3) Logan – 7.5/10

Hugh Jackmans portrayal as Wolverine came to an emotional, impactful ending with Logan, a real gut punch of a film that brings things around full circle and closes off the chapter of the character on the big screen as we know it and boy is there closure, the performances are something to be noted as well, especially Patrick Stewart as a dementia suffering, aged Professor X and of course Jackman as a jaded, almost unrecognizable Logan. The film is real and almost unrelentingly bleak but it’s lit up by some rays of hope with X-23 and a potential future hinting at things that could come, an impactful, engaging comic book film with no third act sky beams or CG villain in 2017? I’ll take that any day, thank you.


4) Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 – 7.5/10

The sequel to Guardians is a surprisingly emotional one, coming at audiences with a few left turns that you probably didn’t see coming at all, we find out a bit more about Peter Quills background, namely in relation to his father and get some new additions to the team, the jokes come in thick and fast as is to be expected but they mostly land, with some genuinely funny character interactions and relationships.


5) Thor: Ragnarok – 7/10

The latest Thor film is probably the best in the series, very funny and quirky, clearly showcasing the intelligent Taika Waititis sense of humour, we do also get to see interesting sides to Asgardian lore, Thor and some more of the Hulk which is fun, returning characters (Hulk, Loki) are great and new ones make for some fun interactions, namely Valkyrie and the badass Hela. Ragnarok still suffers from generic Marvel villain syndrome and an abundance of humour that removes from dramatic impact in places but the final result is an entertaining, engaging romp and if that’s what Waititi and Marvel intended to do with the story, they succeeded.


6) Justice League – 6.5/10

The DCEUs latest and possibly most important film is a bit of a bomb according to some, not grossing the astronomical amounts that it really should have and not doing so well critically speaking but not all is bad, it’s not terrible and it’s actually rather fun, the problem being that it’s a bit of mish mash of tone and you can tell the film had more than one director (Snyder and Whedon). It’s great to see the league together nonetheless, the humour lands generally, the set pieces are well done but the story is let down by a rushed final third and generic CG villain (which every comic book film seems to have nowadays anyway), the film is a step in the right direction but DC can do better.

The Big Sick – review

The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter is a romcom / drama rolled into one, sort of following the real life of Kumail Nanjiani, essentially playing himself as a Pakistani stand up comedian living the USA who falls for an American woman, forcing him to keep secrets and create a rift with his family that he has to confront, alongside an illness his girlfriend contracts. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff and Adeel Akhtar.

This is a pretty different type of romcom in my view, being more or less a story based on a real person in Kumail Nanjiani, who basically plays himself in the role, we get a real taste of his sense of humour and personality which feels authentically like him, if you’ve seen him in past TV shows or interviews and this helps to make more of an emotional connection with Kumail in my opinion. This could have worked just as well with Kumail and the story being fictional but with the story being real (Kumail is now married to writer Emily Gordon who Emily in the story is based on) it’s all the more impactful.

The emotional aspect to the story was much more pronounced than I thought it would be actually, played quite subtly but it hits heavy, I was expecting a lot more laugh out loud moments than there were but the humour is done well nonetheless, not forcing in jokes every 5 seconds but using smart, sarcastic comedy at key moments. This is helped by the script being written by Kumail and Emily themselves, who lived the experience so this helps to add authenticity to it, the scenes involving Kumails family in particular are some of the funniest and also the most relatable, despite cultural and religious differences between his family and yours, you can probably relate to wanting to please your parents, despite their plans for you maybe being different to your own life plans.

And in that the story really resonated with me, because of potential awkwardness when dealing with family in your adulthood, especially if you’re living in a western country that you weren’t born in or even if you were, with parents that are still very traditional and conservative – a source of comedy for sure but another thing that I’m sure a lot of young adults in the US face everyday. The performances in the film are also really good, Kumail is great in playing well, himself and he brings a reserved yet surprisingly emotional touch to the story, playing off really well with Zoe Kazan who plays Emily and is pretty fantastic at it, nailing the emotional rollercoaster that is her relationship with Kumail with all the twists and turns that accompany it.

I like that the film also doesn’t exactly go the way you think it will either, keeping you guessing as to what will happen and it’s a more accurate representation of real life and not a fictional story, again helping with relatability and engagement in my view. The Big Sick is a funny, touching film with more emotional impact than you may expect going into it.


. Great performances from main leads, especially Zoe Kazan

. Well done comedy spread throughout, without taking away from dramatic moments

. Engaging plot

Ingrid Goes West – review

Ingrid Goes West is a black comedy directed by Matt Spicer, following an unstable social media addict as she goes to LA in search of a better life, inserting herself into the lifestyle of an insta-famous star, the film stars Aubrey Plaa, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr, Wyatt Russell and Billy Magnusson.

Ah where to start with this film, it’s a comedy alright but a pretty dark one, a bit darker than what I was expecting to be honest but with the plots opening and Aubrey Plaza in the lead role, I shouldn’t have been too surprised. The central theme of the story is social media and the way it manages to hook our interest and attention, much to an extreme level in the case of Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) whose whole life seems to revolve around the need for validation and attention, or at least her jealousy of other people whose lives are glamorous and seemingly ‘perfect’.

The truth, even in the real world being that no one has a perfect life and social media just shows the world idealized snippets of life but Ingrid doesn’t know that of course. There’s a very poignant, of the time feel to the plot and it’s so clearly on the nose but a story that I feel needed to be explored as a film nonetheless I feel, as Ingrid embodies the very real and all too common comparison of your life to someone elses, who may be a lifestyle blogger, vlogger or YouTuber and the danger that can arise when you try to imitate a life or lifestyle that isn’t yours.

Ingrid trying to do exactly that is what drives the plot forward in a dark yet humorous way, with this person devoting her entire existence to being essentially associated with the instagram famous Taylor Sloane played by chameleon Elizabeth Olsen who nails it in yet another role, effortlessly portraying the ambitious yet air-headed social media star and photographer. Using all the cliché, roll your eyes hash-tags that you can often see in real life, this is a credit to the good writing in the film which gives Aubrey Plaza a lot to work with and makes the plot more progressively tense as you expect bad things to happen to her, there’s interesting depth to Ingrid than what you see on the surface as you can see how she manipulates her way to get to what she wants, compensating for something missing in her life.

Importantly, we also see things aren’t perfect for Taylor, she’s a bit reckless and we get an inkling that she’s also putting up a front herself from her boyfriend Ezra (Wyatt Russell) which brings an interesting dynamic to things.

It’s not all doom and gloom though as landlord Daniel Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr) is a bright spark in the story and brings a genuine, laid back performance to everything, bringing a more realistic, grounded voice to what’s going on and to Ingrids actions, which are clearly over the top. On the whole, Ingrid Goes West is a very engaging, dark and tragic story with some light shining through, it’s entertaining in all the wrong ways and highlights societies obsession with the notion of the impossible perfect life and pursuit of it which clearly doesn’t work for everyone. It feels very of the time and I enjoyed it from start to finish, as uncomfortable as it got at points along the way because hey, life isn’t is more than just a series of perfect instagram images or at least I hope it is for most people.


. Good writing, simplistic and straightforward storytelling

. Good performances, especially Olsen, Plaza and O’Shea Jackson Jr

. Plot isn’t particularly that deep and may be a bit too over the top for some

Wind River – review

Taylor Sheridan directs Wind River, a mystery crime thriller set in the cold, frozen lands of Wyoming, we follow an FBI agent and a hunter as they investigate a suspected homicide of a native American woman, the film stars Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene and Julia Jones.

It’s interesting that we’ve randomly had two murder mystery thrillers taking place in sub-zero climates this year, Wind River and The Snowman, much to very contrasting receptions of course but there’s something almost ethereal, wild and perfect for setting crime dramas in snowy, frozen settings, putting an emphasis on natures unforgiving ruthlessness and contrasting it with humanities tendency to be just as cruel.

We’re in the frozen north-west of America this time as we follow Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) and his life in Wyoming as hunter with his son, we come to learn more about him as the story goes on and this ties into events in an interesting way, Cory is stoic, a bit of a loner and just wants to get the job done and Renner makes pretty much the perfect casting choice for the role. And it’s easily one of his best performances, understated but memorable, balancing off a cast of mostly unknowns, Elizabeth Olsen is the other main lead, playing a rookie FBI agent a bit out of her element, with shades of Clarice in Silence Of The Lambs.

Olsen brings her own touch to the performance however and is believably driven yet naive. The central plot of Wind River is set around the mysterious death of native teenage girl and of course, why it happened. But it’s no spoiler to say that it takes a while for things to really get going in any meaningful way and I get that this is a bit of a slower paced drama but it is really slow, so much so that it may turn viewers completely off but keep others engaged and I can understand the divisiveness of the film (although critics generally quite like it). The dramatic elements have some decent weight to them and there are some quite moving emotional scenes but they don’t really linger on, maybe pointing to the harsh nature of the work the cops and sheriffs in the area do.

The story just didn’t really impact me in the way I expected it to despite some good performances, The Lovely Bones this is not – and that did hit me quite a bit. The slow, lumbering plot put me off, despite it picking pace a ways into the film, the final third also felt a bit rushed along just to get to the conclusion. Slow burn dramas are very hit and miss with me and this one just didn’t quite hit.


. Plot pacing isn’t great, takes a while to get going

. Has good performances from main leads

. Lack of emotional impact from plot reveals for me