Black Mirror – Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (2019)

Director: Anne Sewitsky

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Miley Cyrus, Angourie Rice, Madison Davenport

Plot: A lonely teenager yearns to connect with her favorite pop star – whose charmed existence isn’t quite as rosy it appears…


Runtime: 1 Hour

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Funny & Dark

Story: Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too starts as lonely teenager Rachel (Rice) is struggling to cope with her new school and family life, with older sister Jack (Davenport) not searching for the attention that Rachel is struggling in her own way. Rachel does have her own favourite pop star in Ashley O (Cyrus) who has been released a new interactive doll that Rachel is desperate to have and receives on her birthday, making a friend.

With Rachel turning more and more to the Ashley Too doll, to a level which starts to see her struggling to cope without it, while the real Ashley O is having her own crisis in the not so rosy world of pop music.

Thoughts on Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too

Characters – Ashley O is one of the biggest popstars in the world, she gives the world the cheesy numbers that the younger audience will flock too, which includes Rachel, Ashley however is being controlled by her manager, which sees her trying to break out of this world to be her own talent. Rachel is a lonely teenager that idolizes Ashley O, she lacks confidence in her new school becoming friends with the new doll called Ashley Too, she has been dealing in her own way with her grief of losing her mother. Jack is the older sister to Rachel, that has been dealing with her grief in her own music, she does show the most attention to Rachel as she tries to help her through her problems.

PerformancesMiley Cyrus is wonderful in this role, getting to play into how people might see her and runs with it. Angourie Rice is brilliant to watch once again, proving to be one of the hottest prospects in the business today. Madison Davenport completes the main cast showing us just how capable she fits in with the two leading stars of episode.

StoryThe story follows a world famous popstar that is being controlled by her family, but on the outside she is having the time of her life, while a superfan is trying to put her life back together her mother’s death using Ashley as her inspiration. The story uses the themes that comes from fandom, where people can see the life of somebody being all sunny, only that it isn’t what they think, we also tackle the ideas of loss and grief which shows us how people will deal with it in their own way. Mixing the themes together does help keep us entertained and when the Ashley Too doll gets unleashed, it is one of the funniest things Black Mirror has ever done.

Sci-Fi The world uses the sci-fi ideas of how technology is being used to create music and control people, which shows the advances are not too far ahead.

SettingsThe film shows the different lives both Rachel and Ashley O are living, which does show us just how they can be thinking the same.


Scene of the Movie – Ashley Too Doll.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t get enough focus on Jack.

Final Thoughts This is a very dark and very funny episode of Black Mirror, it does show how technology can be controlling and how grief can be difficult to deal with.

Overall: Funny throughout.

Rating

Advertisements

Black Mirror – Smithereens (2019)

Director: James Hawes

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Andrew Scott, Damson Idris, Topher Grace, Caitlin Innes Edwards, Ruibo Qian

 

Plot: A cab driver with an agenda becomes the centre of attention on a day that rapidly spirals out of control.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Truly Intense

 

Story: Smithereens starts as we meet Chris (Scott) a taxi driver that spends his time waiting outside one building waiting for clients, he does attend support groups for people who have experienced loss. Chris picks up his latest client Jayden (Idris) working for a company called Smithereen, Chris goes onto kidnap him in an attempt speak to the boss of the company Billy (Grace), the problem is that while the kidnapping gets the attention of the police and Chris finds himself surrounded by police in his race for this conversation.

 

Thoughts on Smithereens

 

Characters – Chris is a taxi driver that has been through a traumatic experience and has set out to get a message sent to the owner of a company known as Smithereen, he is on edge and kidnaps an employee of the company to get through to the man. We get to learn a lot about his life as the hostage situation unfolds. Jayden is the hostage who is just an intern within the company, he is scared for his life and will give any answers he can to help Chris get his answers. Billy is the owner of Smithereen that has a become the target of Chris’s actions.

PerformancesAndrew Scott is brilliant in the leading role, we can see just how on edge his character is through the film dealing with a range of emotions which makes his position in the story understandable. Damson Idris is great in his role which is as a hostage victim trying to stay composed. Topher Grace continues to prove himself as an actor breaking away from the sitcom figure.

StoryThe story here follows a depressed taxi driver that wants to speak to the owner of a social media network leading him to take a hostage while he waits for a conversation.  In this story we get to dive into the reality of loss, grief and depression, while showing how controlling social media has become to the world, add in the hostage situations we get one of the most intense stories you will ever see, as you just want to see what will unfold and just where the story will go next. We do have moments of humour too which does lighten the mood at times, while never taking away from the intensity the story is offering.

Sci-FiThe sci-fi involvement in this film comes from the social media aspects of the film, showing how a big firm has just as much ability to learn about a criminal situation at a faster pace than the police, showing that we are in a world where the world can be controlled by likes and comments.

SettingsThe film has an interesting mix of settings, firstly the hostage position is in the middle of a field in England, we deal with people in LA and in Utah all trying to resolve the situation, showing how quickly a global effort can work to search for answers.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me British snipers are terrible.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most intense episodes the series has ever put together, we have an outstanding leading performance and get to deal with the grief and suffering that people can experience.

 

Overall: One of the best episodes ever.

Rating

 

 

Black Mirror – Striking Vipers

Director: Owen Harris

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Beharie, Pom Klementieff, Monique Cynthia Brown

 

Plot: Two estranged college friends reunite in later life, triggering a series of events that could alter their lives forever.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Largely Forgettable

 

Story: Striking Vipers starts as two former college friends Danny (Mackie) and Karl (Abdul-Mateen II) reunite at Danny’s birthday, even though they have gone in different directions, Danny is married with a family, while Karl is a womaniser. Karl buys Danny a birthday present called Striking Vipers which is a virtual reality game.

The game takes Danny and Karl into avatars of their favourite characters, where they can actually fight and experience other feelings that can be replicated from real life.

 

Thoughts on Striking Vipers

 

Characters – Danny is a happily married man who is looking to have his second child with his wife, he has grown up a lot since his wild college years which saw him party a lot, with this new game, he starts to see life differently starting to question his own views on life, which could start to put a strain on his marriage. Karl is the old best friend of Danny from college, he has become distant from Danny, only to return with a new game which could change their lives, he is still acting like he is in college despite the fact they are reaching 40, he is often seen as the bad influence on Danny. Theo is the wife of Danny, she starts to notice the change in him, which sees her wanting to connect with her husband once again before losing the marriage.

PerformancesAnthony Mackie is great in the leading role without struggle to balance his characters emotional dilemma through the film. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II continues to show he has continued to impress in the last year as an actor fast becoming a name to watch for years to come. Nicole Beharie shows us how to make a supporting character make an impact as we see how she bring us the wife that is losing it.

StoryThe story here follows two former college friends whose lives change when they start using a virtual reality video game, it reaches dangerous levels of obsession and offers up the questions of sexually desires. For the calibre of storytelling we are used to seeing from a Black Mirror story, we look at the reluctant behaviour in relationships and how people can become overly reliant on certain ways of finding love. The way this story flows does feel off for the most part leaving us like a moment of impact in missing.

Sci-FiFor the sci-fi elements used within this film, we get to see just how the world of virtual reality can be used to achieve things you can’t do in real life and shows us that not everybody will turn to needing to find help from this source.

SettingsThe settings in the film come from the idea that everyday life can need refreshing at times.

Special EffectsThe effects come from being inside the virtual reality world, which does show how they movements could be real, which is beautiful to see.


Scene of the Movie –
The first entry to the virtual world.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does go way to slowly.

Final ThoughtsThis does just about become a forgettable story, it does want to examine real issues only to just pull out from them follow through.

 

Overall: Disappointing addition to the black mirror.

Rating

 

 

Black Mirror – Black Museum

Director: Colm McCarthy

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, Babs Olusanmokun, Jade Clarke

 

Plot: A woman enters the Black Museum, where the proprietor tells her stories relating to the artefacts.

 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Twist Filled Tales

 

Story: Black Museum starts as British tourist Nish (Wright) finds herself in the middle of nowhere in America needing to recharge her car, she stops at a mystery Black Museum run by Rolo Haynes (Hodge), his museum is filled with artefacts that have stories with Rolo telling Nish his place he has been a part off, including the Dawson net which gave a doctor the ability to feel pain to solve cases.

We follow the tour as we learn about other cases that Rolo had been involved in and become part of this tour, we learn how he has been planning to try to break boundaries in his industry.

 

Thoughts on Black Museum

 

StoryThis does have three stories being told, each could easily have been their own chapter in the series, this is a positive and a negative, the positive is because we do get invested in these stories which have a twisted side to them all, the negative is waiting for the twist which while isn’t the easiest one to work out, but you can tell something must happen to complete this outer story. it is strange to say, but it does feel like this story is almost too busy to fully enjoy on a on time viewing.


Scene of the Episode –
The twist ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This one does need a repeat viewing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most thought provoking of the stories in Black Mirror, this one will need a couple of viewings to get each detail of this episode, which is a good and bad thing, but if I was to go back through the show, this would be the first one to see for me. The stories do twist together nicely and do get the most out of the shorter formula.

 

Overall: Nice finishes to the show.

Rating

 

 

Black Mirror – Metalhead

Director: David Slade

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Maxine Peake, Jakes Davies, Clint Dyer

 

Plot: In the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Scottish Moors, a woman attempts the survive the land full of “dogs”.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fast Paced Thriller

 

Story: Metalhead starts as we follow a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic Scotland, looking for supplies they run into a dog, a robotic hunter which leaves Bella (Peake) fighting for her life against this relentless killing machine.

 

Thoughts on Metalhead

 

StoryThe story doesn’t have too much to talk about, it is one woman trying to survive from a robotic dog that is relentlessly trying to track her down and kill her. This does keep everything having a fast pace about it, which is a good experience, but strangely just doesn’t feel like a black mirror episode, this could be any run of the mile mini series episode.


Scene of the Episode –
Dog introduction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  It doesn’t have the feel of a Black Mirror episode.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fast-paced thriller that does do its best to keep you on edge, it does succeed too, it does however feel like you needed that little bit more world building to care about the battle of Bella and just how many dogs we are likely to come across in this landscape.

 

Overall: Flawed, but entertaining thriller

Rating