Reggie Review- A Man Who Was Dubbed Mr. October Which Was Well Deserved & Earned

If there is one thing that everybody knows about me is that I’m a huge Boston Red Sox fan. Which in turn makes me hate the New York Yankees. I refer to them as the evil empire. It comes with the territory though. So for me to watch a documentary about one of the great players of Yankee Nation is a bit hard. That being said I give every film I review its due diligence and this one based on Reggie Jackson was a film I was glad to have watched. I learned a lot about this Yankee superstar dubbed Mr. October by Thurmon Munson, his Yankee teammate in the late 70s.

Like a lot of documentaries, this one has the typical talking heads but doesn’t do them the way you’d expect. Reggie is in a way the host to some of the other legends of the game and other sports as well. Sure he’s being interviewed and narrated his story to the director. People like Dr. J Julius Irving, baseball great Hank Aaron, and Yankee Legend Derek Jeter, along with some of his teammates from when he played for the Oakland A’s are in the documentary talking about their experiences in baseball and as teammates of Jackson’s. This was an interesting way to do the talking heads in the film.

As always another aspect of documentaries is using archival footage to show the subject or subject depicted in the film. And this one has a lot of archival footage of when Jackson played for the Oakland A in the minors and majors and quite a bit of his time in New York as a Yankee. He was interviewed by the press a lot and these interviews took a lot of quotes from interviews whether they were taken out of context or not. He was a quote machine for the New York press.

Jackson came up in an era that made him speak out at various times in his career. Whether it be for the civil rights movement as in fair pay for black players from racist and or cheap owners or being able to leave Oakland and go to the highest bidder. Based on Kurt Blood’s court case. Which is when George Steinbrenner stepped in and paid him what he deserved as a player of his caliber. In 1977 the Bronx was burning and so was Jackson’s career. He was on fire in New York.

This documentary doesn’t always show the good side of Jackson but what it does do is shed light on some of the difficult times in his storied career which allowed him to be the leader he is today and the representative of the game of baseball deserves. He proved he was and is a leader for the representation and rights of players to this very day. Even as a die-hard Red Sox fan, I can see that he is and was great for the game.

Reggie sheds a light on a man and his career. The good and the bad moments. Despite everything he endured at the hands of owners, managers, press, and teammates he remained a man who stood up for the players, their rights, and the game as a whole. Still to this very day where he is an adviser to the owner of the Houston Astros. The accidental moniker of Mr. October is well deserved and earned by this Yanker legend and that’s hard for me to say as a Red Sox fan.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves Review- Fans of the Roleplaying Game will be Right at Home During this Campaign

Dungeons and Dragons, the roleplaying game has had a film in the past based on it that came out back in 2000 starring Marlon Wayans and Jeremy Irons. It wasn’t well received by fans of the game or critics alike. It was a pretty bad film all the way around. Now Paramount has relaunched its efforts to bring this popular IP back to the big screen with Dungeons and Dragons Honor Among Thieves.

In a cold open, we find Elgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez) in prison. They go up for a pardon and Pine’s character gives the audience a back story on why and how they has been imprisoned. As they were about to be pardoned by the board they escape using one of the board members as part of their escape plan. That’s when the movie actually starts. Pine’s character gathers up a group of rogues for a fight against a man who betrayed him, Forge (Hugh Grant), and stole his daughter Kira (Vhloe Coleman) and his witch ally Sofina (Daisy Head) who has her own plans.

The cast is pretty vast in this adaption of the popular roleplaying game. If you were at home playing this might be a wacky campaign you mind ending up doing. They are a shapeshifter after Doric (Sophia Lillis, It & It Chapter 2), a wizard Simon (Justice Smith, Detective Pikachu), and for a short time a battle-hardened warrior with many talents Zenk (Rege Jean-Page, The Gray Man). Together this ragtag group has to save the kingdom from peril even though they are a bunch of thieves and nogoodniks at heart. 

Part of what brings this world to life is the visual effects. Lillis’s character changes shape so often it’s hard to keep up with her, but the best shape she changes into is an owlbear. This is a pretty cool beast. There is also a fat dragon, plus when characters played by Smith and Head use their powers all kinds of crazy things happen. The witches’ powers are all red and cloudy and they look pretty cool. A battle between the two using giant hands as avatars was pretty awesome. A contrivance item was a special walking stick that turned into a wand that was called a hither dither stick and had some amazing visuals as well. They used it to travel from one point to another using a portal. I rather enjoyed how this item was used to great effect in the movie despite it being a bit of a contrivance item.

Part of the charm of Dungeons and Dragons’ Honor Among Thieves was its dark humor. The audience I was with was hooting and hollering at many quips and one-liners. Especially from Jean-Page and Pine’s characters. They did have a nice banter with each other. Also, the chemistry between Pine and Rodriguez was pretty funny at times. The humor made the film that much better even though it was a dark comedy. People got a lot of the jokes and awkward humor the film was going for. I for one didn’t laugh as much as others in my screening but I understand why they did laugh. Some of the humor was amateurish to me.

Chris Pine has made a name for himself as Captain James T Kirk in the reboot of the Star Trek films and as Jack Ryan in one of the Tom Clancy-based films. As well as Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman films but it’s Hell or High Water, The Finest Hours and I am The Night that he does his best work. Most of it is dramatic work. In this film, he tries his hand at comedy and it works. Similar to his banter in the reboot Star Trek franchise with Dr. “Bones” McCoy (Carl Urban) He had it in him this whole time.  With the rest of the cast which made for a relatively funny film overall. I would love to see him flex these muscles once again very shortly.

Dungeons and Dragons’ Honor Among Thieves isn’t going to be for everybody. It has a lot of dark humor that may go over some people’s heads. Even though the crowd I was watching laughed a lot I felt some of the humor was a bit amateurish. That being said it worked in the context of what the filmmaker was going for. Along with the humor, the visual effects were stunning. The shapeshifter and various magic users all looked amazing using their various powers. The cast is fantastic as well with Pine and Page as the standouts. I can see this film getting a sequel very soon. Fans of the game will be right at home in this campaign though.

3 ½ stars

Dan Skip Allen

Inside Review- A Film that Has a Story that Defies Odds

There have been a lot of movies that have odd or weird premises. Some of them are horror films, others are not. Inside isn’t one of those but it’s also not exactly a straightforward film either. It’s a movie that will test the viewer’s patience but in the end, it will be worthwhile for those that gave it the chance it deserves. It is a battle of fruition but it’s worth the wait.

Nemo (Willem Dafoe) is a high-end art thief who is robbing a state-of-the-art hi-tech penthouse apartment at the top of a building. He’s robbing the apartment of priceless paintings but when he’s about to leave the security system goes off and locks him into the penthouse. He tries everything he can to try to get out, including trying to disable the security system. This apartment is locked tighter than fort knox. He ends up just trying to survive at this point. 

Inside has a vibe of other survival films like Castaway. The loneliness sets in and depression takes over for this man who ends up in this crazy situation. His instinct takes over and he starts to come up with ideas to escape. With little results. As in any survival situation, two things come into effect. How does this person eat and or drink to keep from starving to death? This movie gets very creative in these situations. A couple of examples are using water from a plant watering system and eating dog food. That’s the tip of the iceberg regarding these aspects.

Fans of Willem Dafoe will most likely point out some of his most memorable roles. And those with a keen eye will spot a few of his past roles. Namely, a fish in a fish tank that looks oddly familiar to his character in Finding Nemo, Gill, a Moorish Idol fish. And while trying to escape through a glass ceiling he ties a bandanna around his head resembling his character in Platoon, Sergeant Elias. There may have been others I just couldn’t notice.

This film is more than just a trip down memory lane for Dafoe. It’s a movie that deals with retrospectives making wrong decisions and having to come face-to-face with those decisions. When we are in our darkest hour is when we have to reflect on our mistakes. This character has that moment of self-reflection in this film. I’d a moment that turned the movie around. I can see why Dafoe took this role. 

Some interesting aspects that helped the movie seem interesting and keep my attention throughout were that the main character watched the security cameras of the lobby and other areas of the building. He watched the concierge and a cleaning lady named Jasmine who he looked forward to seeing. She was one of the things that helped him to keep going.

I tend to spend a lot of time on my own and it can get a bit claustrophobic at times being by myself for hours on end. It’s just a matter of keeping busy and being productive in life. In the context of the film that is what the Dafoe character does. He finds ways to pass the time and be productive despite the psychological toll of being stuck in this apartment takes on him mentally and physically. This film is an exercise in futility. The director Vasilis Katsoupis creates an atmosphere of constant survival which is a crazy thing considering the location in which the story takes place. This is a film that should make you think and make you reevaluate your own decisions. It’s that kind of character study.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Shazam: Fury of the Gods Review- A Funny Fantasy Filled Follow-Up of the First Film

It’s no surprise that the DCEU has been going through some changes lately. The new owner of Warner Brothers David Zazloff cleaned house out with the old regime and in with the new. That means there are new bosses in town. James Gunn and Peter Safran are in charge now and they have a new vision for what they want the DC film and television Universe to be, but they still have a few straggler projects to be released in theaters before the slate is cleaned. And one of those films is Shazam: Fury of the Gods, the sequel to the funny and entertaining Shazam starring Zachery Levi of Chuck fame.

Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is enjoying his double life of being a teenager and a superhero at the same time. Once he shared his powers with his family they were able to fight crime together. Or fight crime with a little destruction along with it, unfortunately. Unbeknownst to them though, three sisters dubbed The Daughters of Atlas, Hesperia (Helen Mirren) Kalypso (Lucy Liu) have come seeking revenge for their father. They first find a staff that needs to be mended. Once they get it the destruction of Philadelphia is on. The only people that are in their way are the Shazam family.

Shazam has been one DCEU film that has stood out in the fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously. Unlike the other films in the series. The casting of Zachary Levi was great. He embodies everything of what this character truly is. An adult who has the mentality of a teen. The rest of the cast was also chosen well. They truly seem like kids in adult bodies. In one instance of one of them is saving some kittens first and then going back to save the adults was a perfect example of this. This youthful exuberance as kids and their adult counterparts makes these films stand out in this serious universe that has been set up by the old brass at DC and Warner Brothers.

Part of what makes all these superhero movies pretty amazing is the visual effects that are used. Shazam: Fury of the Gods has some amazing visual effects. At one point The Daughters of Atlas release a giant dragon that one of them rides and she plants an item at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, and a giant tree with pods sprouting up in the ballpark and all over the city. And fantasy creatures burst out of the pods. The visuals on all of these are quite amazing. These visual effects add to the overall enjoyment of what the movie is trying to accomplish. I loved all of these visuals.

There is a main story of what this film is trying to say and do but there is also a subplot that parallels the main plot of the movie. Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) has some issues with bullies at school but he meets a new girl on the first day of school. Anna/Anthea (Rachel Zegler, In the Heights) is the new girl. She likes his sense of humor and charming personality. They instantly connect. She has a history though that may conflict with his alter ego. As a member of the Shazam family. This subplot was good though. It added an emotional weight to the film. These characters and actors were very good in these roles. As well as Adam Brody the superhero version of Freeman’s character.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods is a fun follow-up to Shazam. These films have been the exception to the rule of that the DCEU is dark. These movies have been fun; they don’t take themselves too seriously. Yes, the villains are menacing but the family aspect of the characters shines through. The subplot involving Glazer and Ziegler was very good. Levy has become this character for better or worse and he’s enjoyable to watch. The visual effects are first rate whereas regarding other CGI superhero films they aren’t that good recently these are stellar. They add an entire element of fantasy that made the film better.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

John Wick 4 Review- The Best John Wick Film by a Longshot

John Wick has been a franchise that no one saw coming. Before the first film Keanu Reeves’s career wasn’t necessarily going places. The first film was a complete surprise to many including myself. Ever since that film though these films have been very much anticipated by the masses. Including myself. Fast forward to now and John Wick 4 is about to be released and I’m here to say it’s the best in the franchise by a wide margin.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) has been excommunicated from the high table and is a lone wolf on a mission to take out anybody he deems necessary. He becomes a liability and all those associated with him are expendable. He doesn’t have many allies but the few he still has stand by him through thick and thin. Winston (Ian McShane) and his New York Continental have come under fire as part of his support group even though he did shoot John and almost kill him. Getting help from the bowery king (Lawrence Fishbourne) is a big help as well. A new threat has arisen that is more dangerous to his survival than ever the Marquis De Gramont (Bill Skarsgard) is acting on behalf of the high table. And he will stop at nothing to rid the world of John Wick and anyone who stands in his way including Winston.

The John Wick franchise has always been known for its fight scenes and this fourth installment is no different than the other films. There are some incredible fight scenes in the Osak Continental hotel involving Caine (Donnie Yen) and Shimazu Koji (Hiroyuki Sanada), two old friends of Wicks. Outside of the Arc De Triomphe in Paris involved hundreds of cars and hitmen. I have never seen anything like it before. As well as on a two-hundred-step staircase leading to a final duel. Men were coming out of nowhere to step up to fight Wick on these stairs. It was a demoralizing moment to some extent for all involved. The stunt choreography and action scenes were some of the best I have ever seen in a film in my almost 45 years of watching movies. 

Two other aspects of the film that absolutely blew me away were the cinematography by Dan Laustsen. He has been known for his work with Guillermo Del Toro on Nightmare Alley, The Shape of Water, and Crimson Peak but to me, the best work of his career is on John Wick 3. Now change that to John Wick 4. He uses various ways to light scenes that bring out vivid colors throughout the film. The natural way of using sunlight to light rooms and the climactic duel scene. Candles to light long walkways that otherwise would be dark and or old churches and such and fluorescent lights to brighten nightclubs or rooms that characters are in. All the lighting choices are distinct and bring out the myriad of colors strewn throughout this nearly three-hour film. There won’t be many films that look this good all year long. This is an Oscar contender for Best Cinematography. 

The other technical aspect that blew me away was the sound design. Each time a punch was thrown/felt or a gun was fired it was impactful. As a member of the audience, I felt them in my bones. Chad Stehelski the director wanted the audience to feel these clubbing blows and how loud this gunfire truly is. The sound was a character in the movie. It was part of what made this film work so well from beginning to end. I have never heard such great sound work in a film such as this before. Once again this is sound design that could be nominated for an Academy Award. It’s that good.

Why John Wick 4 works so well is the story. It is grounded in a world that has been impeccably set up by the three films before it. The rules this world goes by have been established and they stick by them implicitly. The filmmakers don’t deviate from the rules they set up. They make some new rules as the franchise progresses and they stick by those as well once established. One of the main rules we as audience members believe in is that John Wick is a superhero in his own right. He is basically indestructible. He wears suits made of kevlar that help deflect gunfire and are like armor for him. Even though he takes a lot of punishment he keeps coming back for more. The henchmen have these suits as well but shots to the head and knives through the neck are the ways to get rid of them most of the time. When you’re watching a John Wick film almost anything goes and this fourth film in the franchise proves that theory.

John Wick 4 was one of my anticipated films of 2023 and it didn’t let me down. Everything I could have ever wanted in this movie was in here. Incredible fight sequences with jaw-dropping fight choreography and breathtaking cinematography brought this world vividly to life once again, and pulse-pounding sound design that would rupture an eardrum. The technical aspects of this film are unmatched by any film this year or last for that matter. Keanu Reeves has become an icon in film and this character is his magnum opus. He has created a man that is a hero to so many watching in the theaters. Or at home, the previous films on physical media or streaming. We believe in him and that he is a literal superhero. The emotional wright we put on this character and film is felt in each scene. These films show that fully. This is the perfect conclusion to this franchise in so many ways. Hopefully, we will get to see this world expanded on soon with the Continental television show and the spinoff of the Ballerina. This is by far the best John Wick film by a long shot.

5 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

All the World is Sleeping Review- A Raw and Gritty Performance From Barrera

Films about drug addiction or alcoholism aren’t anything new in Hollywood. What distinguishes them are the filmmakers who make them and the actors or actresses who play the characters featured in them. In the case of All the World is Sleeping it’s Melissa Barrera who is the draw for viewers to see or seek out this film and the style in which it’s written/filmed by the director Ryan Lacen. He seems to have a vested interest in telling this story.

Chama (Melissa Barrera, In the Heights, Scream) is a single mother in New Mexico. She struggles to provide for her daughter Nevaeh (Adlynn Marie Menendez), while constantly seeking out drugs with her friend Toaster (Jackie Cruz) She tries to find work as a mechanic but nothing seems to work out for her. She falls back on her sister Mari (Alexis Santiago) for help quite often, but there is resentment in her eyes toward her sister. She also resorts to selling her body for money and drugs. It’s all she knows. Even though this is a story of a latino woman this could be any woman in America that is going through these kinds of difficulties.Its a generational thing.

Barrera is known for a few different films in the last few years. She has stood out in musicals, horror films and survival films. This is the best thing she’s done in her short career. She shows a range that she hasn’t shown in her previous films. This story isn’t for the faint of heart, but she gives everything she has as this young woman who has nothing but problems in her life. As an addict she expresses everything from cold sweats to crying and everything in between. This is the typical behavior for a woman who is detoxing from drug addiction. This couldn’t have been an early role for her but she proves she was perfectly cast in this time. 

The filmmaker uses various ways to tell this story. He shows the viewer watching how the main character got to this point in the story with flashbacks. He also has Barrera’s character narrate her own story for those watching and he has a device where he shows women in a therapy group talking about their own lives. This most effective thing in the film in showing the state that Berrera’s character is in is she imagines voices in her head that are telling her the wrong things. It’s very painful for her having to go through this.

The cast is very good. Most of them are in small roles but Barrera’s character sister, young and older are very good. Both past and present scenes with the young Chama, her mother, and her friends show how difficult her life has been, but it’s one particular event that finally shakes her life to its core. That’s what proves to be the ultimate thing that drives her to finally get the help she needs. When you’re a drug addict or alcoholic you have to want to get help or help yourself and in this case she finally does get  that help she needs. Another cast member Jorge Garcia from Lost fame plays a drug counselor and he is good in this role. 

I know I’m not a woman or a mother but I’ve been an alcoholic in my lifetime. I am now ten years sober. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life. It hasn’t made my life better but I feel like I’m better off because of it. Knowing that a substance doesn’t control my life anymore makes me feel good. The Garcia character is like the conscience for Barrera’s character. He gets her to finally take action and show she has to want to change to get better. The treatment center gives her a little perspective on life as well. Hearing the different stories from the other women who are going through similar experiences makes it more real what she has and is going through in her life.

All the World Is Sleeping is an eye opening film about drug addiction and one woman’s journey to get clean and get her life back on track. She had a rough upbringing which caused her to go down the wrong path but her daughter was the thing that she kept surviving for. A lot of people have gone through and are going through similar things as this film depicts but Barrera gives this character a heft that makes it a more heavier depiction of this epidemic. She is a very good young actress but this role proves she is a great actress in waiting. The director Lacen uses a few tricks to make this film mean a lot and it does. People need to see this movie if not just for Berrara’s gritty and raw performance.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

One Fine Morning Review- A Difficult Subject Matter that Takes too Long to Transpire

Films that feature a son or daughter looking after a loved one such as a parent are a bit hit-and-miss. They can be a bit melodramatic at times. One Fine Morning takes a long time to get to the point of the story. Along the way, there are some other things that get in the way of the main story. Lea Seydoux commands the screen though with every scene she’s in. The film keys on her performance but it’s not enough to make this a great film.

Sandra (Lea Seydoux) is a translator but she also takes care of her sick father Georg Kienzler (Pascal Gregory); he has Benson’s disease, a neurogenetic disease that causes blindness. She is also a single mother of Linn (Camille Leban Martins) She’s a smart and curious young girl. While working at a conference she meets Clement  (Melvil Poupaud), an astrophysicist. They begin a tumultuous love affair. Even though he is married with a child of his own and she has other problems she had to deal with.

Part of the difficulty of this story is how the father of the main character keeps getting moved around from hospital to hospital. Even though this film takes place in France it’s a problem a lot of people can relate to. The medical field tends to throw away elderly people who can’t help themselves or don’t have money to pay for the care they need. This man’s disease is incurable so nobody wants to help him. It’s a shame because everyone deserves proper care until their last breath.

As I’ve mentioned this is a French film but it has subtitles in English. For a lot of people, this can be a difficult aspect of watching movies. Not too many people in America like to read a movie. Add in the length of this film and you have a long experience for most people. Unfortunately for me, it does drag in the middle when the lead character deals with all the stuff involving her father. If the movie focused more on the relationship I think it would have flowed better and not felt as long.

As the film is set in France it does show a lot of the city it takes place in. The scenery is pretty cool to look at. As I’ve never been to France so to see the city streets and landscapes was nice.Seydoux’s character does a lot of walking around and that’s a way to get these aspects of the movie. The editing needed some work though. With this film feeling long on the tooth maybe it needed to be cut a little.  Also, the daughter character could have been explored more.

One Fine Morning is a good film that deals with some difficult subject matter a lot of people can relate to. The main focus is this aspect of the film. If the movie focused more on the relationship aspect and the mother daughter elements I think it would have flowed better and wouldn’t have seemed as long. Even though it’s short of two hours in length. The story was good but the main reason to see this film is Lea Seydoux who owns every scene she’s in.

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Money Shot: The PornHub Story Review- A Well Done Documentary Showing Both Sides of this Issue

Porn has been an industry that has brought a lot of people happyness over the years, but in some cases, it has caused people to not like how sex of this nature has been portrayed to the public. In one case Pornhub which is a pornography website owned by MinkGeek a company out of Montreal Canada has been one that some people aren’t happy with. Namely some activists and government officials in Canada and abroad.

This documentary film has shed a light on multiple sides of how this industry has been used to exploit women and has advertised rape and abuse by allowing unverified users, to post videos of these events on their site. Activists such as Laila Mickelwait from TrafficingPorn are one of the site’s main antagonists. Along with Dani Pinter legal council for NCOSE and Whitney Burgoyne former MindGeek employee, and Michael Bowie lawyer for Brown and Rudnick who is representing some of the victims in a class action suit. These people compare what is going on at this company to the HBO gangster show Sopranos-esque racketeering scheme. They feel criminal activities are going on with this company.

Others such as porn performers Siri Dahl, Gwen Adora, Asia Akira, ambassador, Cherie Deville, and Allie Nox think otherwise. After a New York Times article by Nicolas Kristoff exposed this company and website for what he believes is allowing criminal activity to be shared on the site. A lot of women who were legitimate sex workers were losing a lot of money. They feel there should be a way to differentiate between true accounts and illegal accounts. Verified users shouldn’t pay the consequences of unverified users. This is their livelihood and their way of paying their bills and so forth.

The film uses multiple ways to tell its story. One of them is the classic way of talking heads. People from both sides of this argument get to give their opinions. And zoom calls are another way we get to hear some of the different angles of this story. Technical aspects show various scenes of the website and how it works properly and how illegal videos are added to the site. And explained by narration. This is an in-depth way of showing all sides of this story and industry.

The fact that rape & drug victims/survivors or child pornography videos are online, is appalling to me. Employees are supposed to moderate this type of activity and a shadowy subject lets the viewer in on the way videos were moderated, Which wasn’t very good. This isn’t something that the company’s owner truly cares about or more would have been done to stop this type of illegal activity. 

Even though there are opponents against all of this there are others like Mike Stabile from the  Free Speech Coalition, and Noelle Purdue Porn Industry Professional, who talk on the side of the site and its owners and business model. I feel the ending with a live sex scene with Siri Dahl isn’t necessarily the way to go regarding the film. I understand this is her business and she wanted to come out to say how this is her livelihood she shouldn’t have done this as part of the documentary. The filmmaker Susanne Hillinger made a mistake here. The dichotomy of both sides of the story was very well done despite the minor problem I have with the film.

Money Shot: The PornHub Story Streams on Netflix On March 15th

3 stars 

Dan Skop Allen

Ted Lasso Season 3 Review- A Good Beginning to the Award Winning Sports Comedy Series

Ted Lasso left fans off with a great ending to season two of the hit comedy series on Apple TV Plus. AEC Richmond have moved up to the top tier in the EPL but with all positive things must come the negative. Nate (Nick Mohammed) left the team for a head coaching job with West Ham United owned by Rupert Manion (Anthony Head). The ex-husband of Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and owner of AEC Richmond. Roy (Bret Goldstien) becomes the replacement assistant coach and Keeley (Juno Temple) decides to branch out and open up her own PR Firm.  There are definitely a lot of stories going into season three.

Season three picks up with Ted (Jason Sudekis) taking his son to the airport so he can go back home after spending some time with his father over the summer. And an announcement that FC Richmond has been picked to finish last in the table and will inevitably be sent back down or relegated as people say in futbol circles. This doesn’t sit well with anybody in the organization but there isn’t a whole lot they can do about it. Nate does a press conference making fun of his old team and Ted has to step up and defend his players, owner and club as a whole. There may be hope on the horizon though as a new free agent pick up looms large over the outcome of the season. And an all in season long expose by Trent Crimm (Jame Lance) has been added to an already tumultuous season.

As in previous seasons Ted has to be the wisdom for everyone but he has Assistant Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) as his go to for advice. With the whole scenario involving West Ham, Nate and Rupert going on Rebecca is on edge and she can’t stand being second fiddle to her ex-husband. Keeley is still learning the ropes of her own PR Firm and Roy has issues with allowing a cutthroat reporter like Trent Crimm into the locker room with the team. Through a few episodes the drama is set up very nicely by the writers. A lot of the major players in the show once again have good character arcs far early in season three. They know just what audiences of this terrific show are looking for in it.

As a fan of European futbol I love all the references to the EPL and so forth. The battle for the table is a fun part of the show. The rivalry between Ted and Nate, dubbed “the Wonder Kid” is definitely one I am looking forward to all season long and the early blows from Nate towards Ted are definitely fuel for the fire going forward as season three moves along. Will his ego get the better of him or will Ted not get involved in junior high antics with his former assistant coach. These things are yet to be seen but I will be waiting with bated breath to see how this subplot unfolds in the final season of Ted Lasso.

Even though this show is a comedy it has some darker moments early on in season three. With that comes the length. It’s not a normal half hour comedy anymore. Most of the episodes are around 45 minutes or so in length. That gives the writers more to do with each of the character arcs they are working on. There are a  lot of funny fish out of water moments, as always, but also some guru type moments early on regarding the new character in the show but the tone is relatively serious throughout season three.

With this being a show about soccer or futbol as Europeans call it there must be some good soccer in the show. There are a flurry of scenes with pretty cool soccer moments in episode three but not much more than that in the show overall early on. Even though this is staged the soccer scenes aren’t bad but in comparison to actual soccer being played they are pretty slow and bad. It’s hard to recreate actual soccer and make it look good. 

Ted Lasso Season 3 is a bit different from previous seasons. It is has some good laughs most of the time, but it has much more hard hitting character development and various interesting character arcs. Specifically the main one between Ted and Nate. Their storyline early on didn’t entirely develop but I’m sure it will be as the season progresses. Apple TV Plus has a few crown jewels in it’s stable and one of them is Ted Lasso for a reason. It is a very good show. Season three is bound to be as good as the other seasons if not better and I loved the episodes I’ve seen so far. I hope the rest of season three lives up to my lofty expectations.

Ted Lasso streams starting March 15th on Apple TV Plus Weekly (4 Episodes Reviewed)

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Luther: The Fallen Sun Review- A Terrific Addition to this Popular British Property

Luther is set in London, England, The film is based on a BBC television series, about an emotionally charged detective, of the same name, which started back in 2010, This is a launching pad for Elba and his fantastic career. The series was created by Neil Cross and so the film is the continuation of that series. It’s a great detective show and I have no reason to say the film isn’t as equally great!

A woman named Corrine Aldrich reports that her son Callum Aldrich has been kidnapped. John Luther (Idris Elba) says he will find him, but before he does he has been set up by a criminal mastermind. A cyber psychopath David Robey (Andy Serkis) who wears a blonde wig or hairpiece Luther is in prison while all these heinous acts are being committed on the outside. Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo) is now in charge of the case. There was a fire in the prison causing a riot Luther barely survived, but escapes in the process with the help of a friend on the outside. He’s motivated by what happened on the outside to investigate this case on his own.

Using a radio scanner, and advice from retired DSI Martin Shenk (Dermott Crowley) , an old friend and boss of Luther’s, he tries to figure out what is going on. Nobodies off limits though and there are many different directions this case goes in. Finally he gets help from the person who wouldn’t help him in the first place. These two actually make a good team. They both are motivated to stop this crazy man. So their alliance makes sense. They are more alike than they think once they’re on the same team.

Luther is a gritty show that creator and writer Neil Cross takes that gritty nature and ramps it up for this feature length film about this man who seeks revenge for the wrongdoing he has been dealt, along side director Jamie Payne. Detective shows of the past seem like an influence on this character. And Elba runs with everything he is given in the script as this character. He’s played him a bunch but it seems like a fresh take on the character to me. 

With a film budget I’m sure Cross was allowed to do more action sequences and set pieces. It sure looks like it to me. The fire prison alone was pretty crazy and using London as a backdrop makes for great chase sequences. There is an undercurrent of the James Bond films in this Installment of Luther. Even a bar scene was pretty funny because I swore he was going to ask for his matinee shaken not stirred but he asked for a fizzy water instead. I wonder though, was this an audition for Bond for Elba?

As far as villains go Setkis plays a good one. He is menacing and creepy all at once. He even speaks a foreign language which is spoken with subtitles. I think it’s Eastern European. So that may play into the evil that he is portraying. The producers might be capitalizing on tensions in Europe right now. Serkis exudes an evil presence as this character. Without spoiling anything he did something to his own wife which was pretty bad. He was perfectly cast though in this film.

Luther: The Fallen Sun brings everything fans of this IP liked from the television series and builds on it for this stand alone film. It has great performances from Cynthia Erivo as this detective thrown into the fire of this crazy case. Andy Serkis as the killer who likes making his punishments most personal. Elba has proven he’s great as this character and he brings everything back to the forefront in this film. This movie is a thrill ride and has some terrific action set pieces and keeps viewers engaged throughout. It’s a good addition to this series. Neil Cross and Jamie Payne brought this character and series to a new level in the film.

Luther:The Fallen Sun can be seen on Netflix March 10th

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen