Coriolanus

Film Title

Coriolanus

Director

Ralph Fiennes

Starring

  • Ralph Fiennes as Caius Martius Coriolanus
  • Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius
  • Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia
  • Brian Cox as Menenius
  • Jessica Chastain as Virgilia
  • James Nesbitt as Sicinius
  • Paul Jesson as Brutus

A visceral, blood-soaked modern-day adaptation of the William Shakespeare tragedy which marks the directorial debut of Ralph Fiennes, Coriolanus proves that Shakespeare is just as relevant today as he has ever been with themes of political manipulation and war.

In a battle ravaged version of Rome, riots are taking place on the streets due to a shortage of food and a brutal war is raging against the neighbouring Volscians. The brilliant Roman general Caius Martius is a vicious and brutal warrior  just returning from combat with his old enemy Tullus Aufidius.Coriolanus Poster Upon arrival, he is bestowed with the powerful title of Coriolanus. His ambitious mother Volumnia and influential Senator Menenius persuade him to run for political office, but this doesn’t fair well with Coriolanus as he looks down at the common people and sees them as contemptible. He does however obey his mother and strive for power within the political sphere. Other members of the senate have different ideas about this and begin to incur the wrath of the people who detest his arrogance and slander towards them. This causes them to rise up against the general and he is subsequently banished from Rome as a traitor. Once banished, Coriolanus wanders through the war-torn countryside and comes across his sworn enemy Aufidius. Betrayed by his people and filled with deep rage, Coriolanus forms an unlikely alliance with his old opponent and they plan to take revenge on Rome.

With his directorial debut, Ralph Fiennes brings a gritty realism to the scenes of war and utilises close-ups and dizzying tracking shots to get to the heart of emotion. Updating Shakespeare into a modern context must have provided a challenge, but Fiennes pull it off admirably and shows that the Bard’s work can be applied to modern events just as it is classic events from centuries ago. Admittedly, at first hearing the classical dialogue of Shakespeare spoken in a modern setting can be hard to understand and get used to, but once you become attuned to the words and style the benefits of Coriolanus are deeply rewarding. The score is laced with a militant precision as Coriolanus begins his encroaching plans for revenge with the aid of his old enemy and the impending notion of tragedy.

What really gives Coriolanus its power is the astonishing cast assembled. In the title role, Ralph Fiennes is fierce, arrogant and raging as he changes from ‘man to dragon’ and declares vengeance on Rome. Fiennes gives the role his all and really gets to the heart of this complex character with his powerful delivery and barely contained intensity that radiates from his eyes. Gerard Butler is impressively tough and suspecting as his sworn enemy who becomes an ally. Vanessa Redgrave is brilliant as Volumnia, the autocratic mother of Coriolanus. Ambitious, influential and  overly supportive, Redgrave brings a whole range of emotions to the part of this matriarch and speaks her lines with authority and confidence. Her scenes are electrifying with Ralph Fiennes as she attempts to reason with him, whilst also issuing her powerful and domineering hold over her son. Brian Cox is effectively used as a powerful Senator who is firmly on the side of Coriolanus, whilst Jessica Chastain exudes vulnerability and tenderness as Virgilia, the wife of Coriolanus. James Nesbitt and Paul Jesson relish their roles as politicians who succeed in manipulating events so that Coriolanus is banished.

Dramatic, violent and gripping, Coriolanus is Shakespeare updated in visceral and powerful fashion, boasting fantastic performances and assured direction.

Pollyanna

Film Title

Pollyanna

Director

David Swift

Starring

  • Hayley Mills as Pollyanna
  • Jane Wyman as Aunt Polly Harrington
  • Karl Malden as Reverend Ford
  • Richard Egan as Dr. Edmond Chiltern
  • Nancy Olson as Nancy Furman
  • Adolphe Menjou as Mr. Pendergast
  • Agnes Moorehead as Mrs. Snow
  • Kevin Corcoran as Jimmy Bean

Based on the timeless children’s book, Pollyanna is a beautifully realised portrait of the indomitable spirit of one person raising the dour spirits of those around her featuring stunning cinematography and winning performances. Sure it may be a little sentimental, but it doesn’t fall into full on schmaltz thanks to the talent on show.

Pollyanna is the sweet-faced orphan of the title who is sent to live with her rich Aunt Polly in a Vermont town named Harrington in the early 1900’s after the death of her parents. The town is a dour place of no fun because of Polly’s severe hold over the place and the way no one will question her. PollyannaPollyanna on the other hand is a cheerful young girl with an optimistic outlook on life no matter how grim it appears, even in this place where children should be seen and not heard. This stems from her late father’s ‘Glad Game’, which consists of finding happiness in the things around you and not taking for granted what you have. The young girl soon begins to change the town around her with her sunny disposition and acts of kindness that win over the occupants of the town, even the reclusive Mr. Pendergast and the hypochondriac Mrs. Snow . The other residents of the town who have been cheerless for years begin to see the goodness of life and how there is always something to be glad about because of the ray of light that comes with Pollyanna. Yet can Pollyanna’s infectious charm reach her Aunt just like it has everyone else?

Director and writer David Swift brings the story to life with engaging characters and adventures that will surely raise a smile from many audience members. Glorious Technicolor brings the town of Harrington to life, as the young Pollyanna brightens the lives of those around her. A prime example of this is the bazaar in which the town raises money for a new orphanage. Smiles, glorious lights and stunning camerawork give the scene a childlike sense of wonder and the innocence of life that will no doubt stir nostalgic feelings. The music score for Pollyanna captures the initial austerity of the town and later the thawing sadness in favour of joy. Yes, Pollyanna may get sugary at times and the pace may get a little uneven, but these are minor flaws in this beautiful fable about the joy of a child and the far-reaching effects of it.

The cast all contribute stunning work to this heartfelt and classic story. Hayley Mills is the perfect choice to play Pollyanna. With large expressive eyes and a smiley face, Mills imbues the title character with effervescent pluck, charm and love. The role could easily have become annoying and cloying, but thanks to Mills, Pollyanna remains a breath of fresh air in grim surroundings who can find the good in almost everything in around her. Jane Wyman is suitably stern as Aunt Polly, who can’t seem to tolerate happiness and rules over the town with a severity that clashes with Pollyanna’s optimism. Karl Malden is uptight as the local reverend whilst Richard Egan provides emotional honesty as a former lover of Aunt Polly’s. Nancy Olson is charming as the housemaid who is the first person to be won over by Pollyanna. Adolphe Menjou and Agnes Moorehead are crusty and no-nonsense as two of the town’s residents, whose defensive behaviour begins to thaw  as they rediscover the joy of life. And not forgetting Kevin Corcoran as Jimmy Bean, an orphan who befriends Pollyanna and often leads her into mischief.

Timeless, charming and emotionally satisfying, Pollyanna is a feel good film if ever there was one that the whole family can enjoy time and time again.

 

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7

So here it is, my review of the last season of Buffy. After spending seven years fighting the forces of evil, this is when our eponymous warrior’s journey ends. And what an epic journey it has been. I have really enjoyed revisiting one of my favourite shows and I hope my reviews have done the series justice as well as entertained my loyal followers. Spoilers will follow in this review.

Buffy(Sarah Michelle Gellar) is back to her old self after overcoming depression and traumatic events brought on by her resurrection in Season 6. Buffy Season 7She is embracing her destiny once more and helping prepare her sister Dawn(Michelle Trachtenberg) in the art of fighting. Sunnydale High is rebuilt and Dawn begins to attend. It seems that the Hellmouth still resides underneath the school and that an Ancient Evil known as The First will soon rise. The First can take the form of the dead and is a keen manipulator of those in comes into contact with. Buffy gets a job as a guidance counsellor for the students, although she is suspicious of Principal Wood. It actually transpires that Wood is the son of a vampire slayer and he joins Buffy in her fight later on. Elsewhere, Spike(James Marsters) has returned from Africa after being reinstated with a soul by a demon. The new-found soul begins to drive Spike into mania as he struggles with knowing all the hurt he has inflicted on people. Matters are also complicated as we see how Wood’s mother was a slayer Spike killed many years ago and how he now wants revenge on Spike. Willow(Alyson Hannigan) is rehabilitating with Giles(Anthony Stewart Head) in England in an attempt to harness her magic for good, before returning to her circle of friends. Buffy uber vampGiles later reappears in Sunnydale with a band of girls who are Potential Slayers in need of training for the impending fight with the First and its army of lethal and feral vampires. In other news within the gang, Anya(Emma Caulfield) is once again a vengeance demon, yet doesn’t find her old life as fulfilling as it once was. Add to that the fact she still cares for Xander(Nicholas Brendon), and she decides she wants to be human once more.  Andrew returns to Sunnydale under the influence of The First who appears to him as Warren. It manipulates him into killing his only friend Jonathan. Andrew is later found by Willow who takes him to the house for information. Eventually, after much adversity, Andrew becomes a trusted member of the group. With the First rising up and intent on spreading pain and destruction, it is down to Buffy and her pals to fight in an epic battle of good vs evil in which only one will triumph. The only question is, who will survive the carnage?

Season 7 retains some of the darkness of Season 6, yet gives it an epic feel as Buffy heads towards the apocalyptic battle. With the First, we have an interesting and extremely menacing villain. It sends shivers down the spine as it takes the form of the deceased, including Buffy herself as she has died twice. Watching as it manipulates innocent people and causes them to do its bidding is indeed a chilling sight.It even manages to use Spike for killing, finding a way to avoid setting off his chip that stops him hurting humans. Spike later has his chip removed at Buffy’s request, as it begins to malfunction. The First’s  helpers are the vicious vampires mentioned earlier and The Bringers, men clad in monk robes with their eyes carved into symbols who pursue Potential Slayers with the intent to kill. These two groups add further danger for Buffy and her friends in attempting to avert The First from its plans. And not forgetting Caleb, a deranged priest who works for the First and is the one who gouges Xander’s eye out in a sickening scene. The concept of the Potential Slayers is interesting as we watch Buffy become a mentor to them and develop emotional attachments whilst teaching them how to fight the impending doom. Potential SlayersWe see Buffy transfer her skills to them and give them more guidance than she had when she first became aware of her calling. It’s also great to have Faith back after she became a renegade slayer. After burying her grievances with Buffy, she agrees to help her in the fight. Emotions run high in this season, this is typified by the deaths of two main characters. The characters in question are Anya and Spike. Both of their deaths are very sad, though Spike’s is given edge by the fact that he dies being his sarcastic, bad ass self for the great good during the final battle. And speaking of the final battle, it is one hell of an emotional ride. Tears fall, bodies bleed and carnage ensues as Buffy and the gang face the apocalypse and she finally fulfills her destiny. If you’re not emotional by the finale, you clearly don’t have a heart. To say it’s an epic finale, is a huge understatement. The last moments of Buffy, flanked by friends and allies with tears in her eyes and a half-smile as she contemplates her future are the perfect conclusion to this amazing series.

For this final season, all of the cast bring their A game. Sarah Michelle Gellar rounds out her tenure as the eponymous slayer with a moving, strong and heartfelt performance. We’ve watched her grow from being a reluctant fighter trying to live a normal life to woman warrior who is capable of anything when she puts her heart into it. Buffy final battleGellar is nothing short of amazing as she finishes in this iconic role of Buffy that will forever be in my memory. Nicholas Brendon is reliable as the lovable Xander who now represents reason and resourcefulness, despite getting brutally injured by one of The First’s many helpers in the form of sinister Caleb. Alyson Hannigan captures Willow’s angst at attempting to control her magic, but also the goodness within her that helps her friends in times of need. James Marsters is electrifying as Spike who is now firmly on the good side but still has his wounding retorts and fierce fighting to make him a valuable ally. It’s sad to see Spike die in the finale, but at least he went down fighting and had Buffy’s care with him. Emma Caulfield is luminous as Anya who finally expresses her feelings for Xander,even after everything they’ve been through. Anya’s death is also packed with emotion and is quite an unexpected moment in the show. Michelle Trachtenberg grows up as Dawn, revealing the buried strength under the naive and vulnerable surface. And it’s good to have Anthony Stewart Head back as Giles, and a fitting time for him to re-enter the show as it draws to its end.

Buffy final scene

From action-packed opening to emotional end, Buffy has been one hell of a ride and Season 7 does the series credit as we bid goodbye to the ultimate warrior battling against the forces of evil. I hope my reviews have been informative and people have enjoyed them. Watching them again has been a really great experience and so enjoyable in revisiting one of my favourite shows.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6

After Buffy’s heroic death at the end of Season 5, I think a lot of people wondered how the show could carry on. The answer is Season 6 which emerges as one of the darkest series and one of the most hotly debated in the Buffy saga. Spoilers will follow in this overview.

The Scooby Gang is still reeling from Buffy’s(Sarah Michelle Gellar) death. Buffy Season 6 castGiles(Anthony Stewart Head) decides to return to England whilst Willow(Alyson Hannigan) takes over leadership of the group. With her Wiccan powers increasing, Willow decides that they must resurrect Buffy. She believes that Buffy must be trapped in a hell dimension after she threw herself into the portal of energy. Although Xander(Nicholas Brendon), Anya(Emma Caulfield) and Tara(Amber Benson) are unsure of the spell and worried about potential consequences, Willow takes command and decides to go ahead with the ritual. Buffy is in fact brought back, but exactly where she was left, her grave. Buffy resurrectedAfter clawing her way out of her coffin, Buffy is withdrawn and traumatized by the ordeal. We later find out that she was in fact in Heaven and her friends pulled her out of it. She further sinks into depression and finds comfort in the arms of Spike(James Marsters), engaging in a sexual relationship that soon becomes increasingly destructive for both involved. Whilst dealing with her dark ordeal, Buffy is faced with the Trio; Warren, Andrew and Jonathan. These three geeks have banded together to become super powerful, though they are mostly inane. They torment Buffy by summoning demons and toying with her. Buffy The TrioAs Warren craves more power, their mission takes a darker turn once they come into contact with Buffy. Meanwhile, Dawn(Michelle Trachtenberg) is feeling isolated from everyone and takes to stealing as a coping mechanism. Anya and Xander announce their engagement to the gang, although it ends in sadness. One of the most important character arcs this season is Willow’s. She is now becoming more powerful but continues to rely too much on magic. This makes Tara worried for her safety and the two begin to grow apart. As Willow begins to acknowledge her addiction, a tragedy sends her spiralling back into the realms of dark magic. Can Buffy regain her strength and bring her best friend back before it is too late? All will be revealed in this bleak penultimate season.

As I previously mentioned, Season 6 is controversial among fans. Many consider it too dark and that the series should have ended with the epic Season 5 finale. In one sense I do think that Season 5 made for an excellent finale, but Season 6 does have its good points in terms of characters and themes. Each character is going through a personal struggle of some sort. The most interesting examples are Buffy and Willow. Buffy must readjust to life again whilst trying to cope with the knowledge that in death she found happiness. Willow must deal with her magic addiction that is slowly taking her over. Season 6 does have its fun moments though, especially in the classic musical episode ‘Once more, with feeling’. In the episode, the residents of Sunnydale are afflicted with the urge to reveal their thoughts in song by a demon. The catch of this is that if they sing and dance for too long, they will combust. Buffy Xander and Anya DancingThe episode is filled with humour and some amazing vocal work as the characters find themselves telling their secrets to one another and delving into their personalities. Witty, theatrical and a joy to watch, it is classic and innovative Buffy.

Yet despite these moments of comedy, it is the tragedy and darkness that Season 6 will generally be remembered for. The most tragic moment has to be the death of Tara. After Buffy humiliates the power crazed Warren, he shoots her but a stray bullet hits Tara, who dies in Willow’s arms. Willow red eyesTara’s death is such a sad moment as she and Willow were just getting to know one another again and their rekindled relationship has been tragically cut short. Seeing Willow cry as she holds her beloved and her eyes turn to a scarlet red is both an emotional and scary moment. Tara’s death also functions as the key factor in Willow’s descent into dark magic with horrific consequences as she wants the world to know the pain her loss has caused her.  It’s sad to see Tara leave the show, because I’ve continually been impressed with Amber Benson’s subtle and moving performance as her. Yet I do understand that her death functions as a way to push Willow’s story forward. Although The Trio are used for comedic effect, even they take a dark turn. This is certainly in the case with Warren, who soon begins to lose his grip on plans.

Our cast delivers some stunning work during this season. Sarah Michelle Gellar flexes her acting muscles and gets to show us the vulnerable side to Buffy and how much death and resurrection has affected her. She’s still a fierce warrior who can take down the enemy, but this season showcases Buffy at her most frightened before she manages to reclaim her life once and for all. It is a true testament to Gellar’s talent that we sympathise with Buffy and want her to climb out of her sadness. Nicholas Brendon is great as Xander, who is going through his own set of problems. This includes his wedding day in which he can’t go through with it because he glimpses what a future with Anya might be like. Brendon imbues the part with emotion and earnest heart. Emma Caulfield continues her impressive portrayal of Anya, who is broken by being left at the altar. This causes her to reconsider her past of vengeance and Caulfield gets to show us the wounded woman who can’t deal with the human pain. Caulfield still has her laugh out loud moments but this is the season when Anya really grows as a character. Alyson Hannigan excels at showing Willow’s downward spiral into magic addiction and the horror of when she turns into an almighty powerful force who can wreak havoc on anyone or anything. Dark WillowShe also shows us the side of her that wants to stop, but can’t help but give into these dark impulses especially after the death of Tara. James Marsters reveals the caring side to Spike as he falls into a sexual relationship with Buffy, but how he can’t deal with the fact she is using him as a way to cope. This culminates in Spike attempting to rape Buffy, a decision that causes him to leave town and attempting to regain a soul. Michelle Trachtenberg captures the feelings of isolation as Dawn, who develops a stealing obsession that soon gets out of hand. Sadly, Anthony Stewart Head isn’t in Buffy as much this season as Giles, but when he does come back it’s certainly worth it. I mean any Giles is better than no Giles at all, isn’t it?

Season 6 may become a bit too grim for its own good, but the excellent performances and stories make sure that Buffy is still one amazing television series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5

After the dreamlike finale of Season 4, Buffy Season 5 becomes one of the best seasons of the show along with Season 3 due to some amazing writing and moving performances. Featuring fantasy as well as genuine human drama, Season 5 adds maturity and darkness to the world of Buffy and her slaying of demons. Spoilers will follow in this review.

Buffy Season 5 CastBuffy(Sarah Michelle Gellar) is now approaching her second year of college and is back on good terms with Willow(Alyson Hannigan) and Xander(Nicholas Brendon) after they grew apart last season. She is finally embracing her destiny as chosen one, whilst also having time for a life. But then as is typical in Buffy’s job as a slayer, there is evil to be taken care of on a daily basis. The most mysterious occurrence is  the appearance of Dawn(Michelle Trachtenberg), Buffy’s sister. Up until now we haven’t seen her at all, let alone known that Buffy has a sister. Everyone acts as if Dawn has always been there. In actual fact, Dawn is the Key, a mystical source of energy that can be used for good and evil. Dawn just believes she is a normal girl growing up in the shadow of her older sister. She always feels left out of the group and forms a friendship with Tara(Amber Benson), Willow’s girlfriend who Dawn feels is the only person who treats her as an equal and not just a 14-year-old girl. When Buffy learns of the creation of Dawn and the threat of Glory, she vows to protect her. Buffy GloryA demented hell goddess named Glory is after the Key and will do anything to get her evil hands on it. Glory is more than a match for Buffy in terms of physical strength and feeds off the energy of humans to remain strong. Elsewhere, Buffy’s romantic relationship with Riley(Marc Blucas) begins to disintegrate quickly as he feels left out of the group and feels inadequate in comparison to Buffy’s old lover Angel. Giles(Anthony Stewart Head) considers leaving for England as he feels like Buffy doesn’t need a Watcher anymore, he later changes his mind when he realises that Buffy needs him. Spike(James Marsters) is back and realises he is deeply in love with Buffy, even though they have been sworn enemies in the past. Buffy’s mother Joyce begins to feel sick and is later diagnosed with a brain tumour that takes a debilitating effect on her. In the end to protect Dawn from the plans of Glory, Buffy is faced with a difficult choice that only she can decide in an emotional and tense finale.

As I previously mentioned, Season 5 takes on a darker vibe than Season 4 which produces poignant results and some devastating conclusions. Sure there is still the snappy dialogue and humorous exchanges, but it’s the dramatic and emotional parts of the season that linger long in the memory. The overriding themes of Season 5 are death, maturity and sacrifice. Chief among these is Joyce’s condition. Joyce has been with the show since the beginning and has grown to be loved by fans. She might not understand her daughter’s destiny, but she loves her with all her heart. After discovering her brain tumour, Joyce’s memory begins to change and she often has angry outbursts.

One of the most emotionally devastating moments has to be in the episode ‘The Body’ in which Joyce dies from the effects of her tumour and Buffy finds her, dead on the living room couch. Buffy Joyce's DeathThe episode is devoid of music which creates an atmosphere of numbness and disorientation that comes with death. We watch as the gang, of which many of them consider Joyce a mother figure, try to comfort Buffy in this difficult time whilst dealing with their own grief for the loving Joyce. What is most tragic about Joyce’s death is that Buffy is highly skilled in taking down evil and saving innocent people on a regular basis, but when it comes to the unfairness and sadness of life, she has no control and can’t reverse these tragic events. Poignant and soul-shaking, it is one of the most haunting hours of television I have ever seen. With Joyce’s death, Buffy gains more responsibility and must embrace the tribulations of adulthood that await her. She may be mature already, but this is the season when Buffy becomes a figure of responsibility to those around her and is forced into some difficult decisions to protect those she holds dear.

Rivalling this episode in terms of emotional stakes is the finale, entitled ‘The Gift’ in which Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn. Rather than let Dawn die, Buffy selflessly throws herself into a portal that has been opened in what is a hero’s death. Buffy's DeathHer voice over to Dawn about remaining brave in the face of danger and the devastated reactions of the gang are such heartbreaking scenes to watch as we see the bravery of this heroine and how she was willing to sacrifice herself to save others. If you don’t cry watching this episode, you clearly don’t have any emotions. With Buffy dead, what can possibly happen in the next series?

Another high point of season 5 is the villain, this time in the form of Glory who provides much of the humour in this sombre season. A destructive and unstable hell god who is crazed for power and will do anything for it. Glory’s personality is interesting as she flits from one extreme to the other and spells dire consequences for the gang. A clever tactic is introduced that Glory also occupies the body of Ben, a hospital intern who knows Buffy because of her mother’s condition. This adds danger to the mix as Ben wrestles with this knowledge that Glory may find out the identity of the Key and succeed in her plans. Diva like, despicable and delightfully sinister, as well as a highly skilled fighter, Glory makes for one of Buffy’s most dangerous adversaries.

The cast is again on fine form with involving performances all round. Sarah Michelle Gellar brings outward strength and inner vulnerability to the role of Buffy, as she accepts her responsibility as a grown up and defender of good, even when she is close to breaking down completely. We see how she has changed as a character and Gellar gives the role her all with compassion, relatability and intensity. Alyson Hannigan exudes knowledge, love and growing power as Willow, whose powers of witchcraft are increasing and are often utilised when battling the enemy. Buffy Willow magicWe also see how her power can be deadly and how it may overtake her mind if she continues to use it so much. Amber Benson is radiant and winsome as Tara, Willow’s girlfriend who is the most level-headed of the group and the one to keep her cool in a crisis. It is sad when Glory takes her energy and leaves her catatonic, but we do get to see Willow unleashing ferocious power on Glory in an act of revenge and later restore Tara back to herself. Nicholas Brendon continues his impressive performance as Xander, who may not possess any magical power, but whose quiet observations and caring actions make him an asset to the Scooby Gang. His relationship with Anya also provides many comical moments of misunderstanding. Emma Caulfield is a joy to watch as Anya, who often offends people because of her unfamiliarity with human ways and customs. Yet she also shows us how much Anya has learned about emotion from those around her, specifically her breakdown when Joyce dies and her questioning over life and death.

Joining the cast is Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn, the Key in human form. I know that Dawn can be whiny at times, but we do see her alienation when she discovers her life has been a lie and how she believes she brings harm to those around her because of her power. Buffy DawnTrachtenberg is perfectly suited to her character and provides many touching moments in which she questions her identity. James Marsters is typically bad ass as Spike, the vampire who is now an important member of the gang but can also pose a threat. It’s interesting to watch how he defects to the good side because of his growing obsession with Buffy, to which she tells him that nothing will come of it. We also get to take a glimpse of Spike’s past in which we see how he was a disillusioned man transformed into a vampire and how he has killed two slayers, one during the Boxing Rebellion in China and the other in 70’s New York. Anthony Stewart Head is particularly strong as Giles, who provides much-needed support and diligent strength when the group feels as if they are cornered. Marc Blucas bows out of Buffy as Riley ends his relationship with her as they drift apart from one another and he begins to frequent vampire bars in which he allows them to drink his blood. Riley becoming a darker character was a gamble, yet we’re so used to seeing him as a nice guy that it’s a bit of a stretch to see him behaving like this.

Dark, emotional and character-driven, Season 5 of Buffy is one of the strongest seasons boasting a great villain, deep themes and touching work from the cast.

 

Second Liebster Award

I recently received the Liebster Award for a second time from Tiago Ricardo over at Panda’s Choice. Please check out his amazing blog. Also, my sincere thanks to him for giving me this award again.

Liebster Award

There are a few rules that come with this award, here they are:

  1. Post the Liebster Award graphic on your site.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  3. The nominee has to write 11 facts about themselves.
  4. The nominee will nominate 9 other blogs for the award.

Facts about me:

  1. I’m a Sagittarius.
  2. I prefer watching football rather than playing it.
  3. Joss Whedon is one of my idols.
  4. Ellen Ripley is one of my favourite movie characters.
  5. I recently had my wisdom teeth removed.
  6. I have a knack for noticing symbolism in movies.
  7. I’m hopefully purchasing a Blu-Ray very soon.
  8. I judge a film on its merit rather than going with the majority of opinion.
  9. When I hear of a certain director, I try to watch as much of their filmography as possible.
  10. My favourite words from a song are “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return” from Nature Boy.
  11. I often use music as a way to relax.

My Nominees:

Once again I want to say thanks to Tiago for the award. If you can take part in the award, please do as it’s loads of fun.

 

 

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4

After the mesmerizing Season 3, Buffy Season 4 carries on the greatness as the characters mature and the threats against them become more dangerous. There may be some weaknesses in comparison with other seasons, but believe me, Season 4 boasts some classic episodes of Buffy that you don’t want to miss. Be warned, spoilers will follow in this overview.

Buffy Season 4After an eventful three years in high school, Buffy(Sarah Michelle Gellar) is now in college with best friend Willow(Alyson Hannigan). At first the experience is overwhelming for her and she feels left out as Willow and Oz(Seth Green) are happy together, Xander(Nicholas Brendon) is doing his own thing with Anya(Emma Caulfield) and Giles(Anthony Stewart Head) wants Buffy to act on her own. Matters are complicated by her pining for Angel, who has departed for Los Angeles. But gradually, she begins to blossom in college. Whilst juggling homework, she must also fight the demons that populate Sunnydale. There is also the matter of commandos that keep appearing on campus. It turns out that they belong to a program known as The Initiative. They capture demons, including vampire Spike(James Marsters) for research and experiments, yet there are more sinister motives brewing beneath this in the form of half human half machine Adam. Buffy and RileyIt transpires that one of the agents is nice guy Riley Finn(Marc Blucas), who Buffy begins to date as he seems like an average guy. As they pursue a relationship, they struggle to keep their identities as Slayer and Agent secret. Elsewhere, the relationship between Willow and Oz deteriorates as Oz fears he can’t control his power when he transforms into a werewolf. His exit to find an answer prompts Willow to sink into melancholy and start practicing magic, this time with unexpected results. Buffy manages to get through to Willow and make her face her problems. Another key component in Willow’s life is the introduction of Tara(Amber Benson), a shy witch who notices Willow’s power. It is Tara who brings Willow out of her confined shell as the two begin a relationship. As the gang starts to grow apart due to various things in their lives, they realise that in order to fight demons they must band together again.

Firstly, I want to get the flaws of the season out-of-the-way. At first, the idea of the nefarious Initiative is a very interesting concept. But I feel like it could have been expanded upon to give the story more of a jolt. To be fair, the Initiative does give us Spike with a chip in his head that prevents him from harming humans and therefore makes him align himself with the Scooby Gang. Buffy AdamI also feel that the Big Bad of Season 4 in the form of Adam, wasn’t as impressive as other villains such as The Master and The Mayor. Sure the Frankenstein like qualities to him add some form of interest, but he just doesn’t quite measure up to former villains on Buffy.

Now that I’ve got those flaws of Season 4, I will go onto the positives, of which there are numerous. As always, the writing is loaded with one-liners and pop culture references that contribute to the humour. The themes of alienation and isolation are expertly handled, mostly in the case of Buffy who becomes distant from her friends but realises the importance of them in her life and her destiny to fight the forces of evil. High school may have been hell, but college presents a whole new bunch of challenges for Buffy as she begins to find herself again. We have the welcome return of Spike, who provides a lot of the dry humour in the show. After receiving the chip that renders him unable to harm humans, he reluctantly joins the gang and proves to be a very useful ally when fighting the demons and monsters of Sunnydale. James Marsters impresses once again as Spike, capturing his bad ass, growling and violent demeanor to great effect. Season 4 also provides the introduction of Tara, who will become an important factor in Willow’s life. Played with virtue, nervousness and sweet-faced charm, Amber Benson excels as the shy witch who begins a tender relationship with Willow. Willow and TaraIt should be noted the importance of the relationship in terms of the way lesbians are portrayed on-screen. Before Willow and Tara, lesbianism had been used and exploited for male fantasies in many a TV show. In Buffy, it portrays their burgeoning relationship like any other on the show, with respect and warmth.

No discussion on Season 4 of Buffy would be complete without mentioning one of the best episodes, ‘Hush’. In this episode, creepy demons known as The Gentlemen steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale in order to extract seven hearts from victims. Everytime they appear, The Gentlemen are bound to scare viewers. gentlemenFloating through town with metallic smiles and strange, courteous gestures, whilst being flanked by henchman dressed is straight jackets, they will forever be in people’s nightmares. I love how the episode examines what happens when communication is taken away from us and we have to find another way to get our point across. Featuring only 15 minutes of dialogue and a haunting musical score of Gothic choral voices, Hush is classic Buffy that is not to be missed.

Our cast of Buffy is again on super form delivering exceptional work. As the eponymous slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar combines humour, steel and compassion as she adjusts to college whilst facing her destiny to kill whatever demon stands in her way. Gellar has grown into the role so much that I can’t imagine anyone else ever playing the character of Buffy. Scooby Gang Season 4Nicholas Brendon excels at showing Xander feeling like the one who doesn’t contribute much to the group, but who in actual fact is a core member. Alyson Hannigan is exceptional as growing witch Willow, who has her heart-broken by Oz but begins to discover herself with the introduction of Tara. Seth Green is stoic and deadpan as werewolf Oz, who bows out of the series as he attempts to control his powers. Emma Caulfield is hysterically funny as former vengeance demon Anya, whose misunderstandings of human communication often lead to her awkwardness. Marc Blucas plays Riley as a good guy who comes to see the corruption in the work around him. Riley as a character may be a little bland and ordinary, but I believe this is the point. When he dates Buffy, he is the opposite of Angel and it shows how Buffy finally dates an average guy rather than a demon. Anthony Stewart Head provides wisdom as Giles, whose genuinely cares for Buffy in a fatherly way and is an important ally in her battles against evil. He also gets some really funny moments, including him embracing the Halloween spirit by answering the door to an embarrassed Buffy whilst wearing a Sombrero and upon being discovered with a scantily clad woman being compared to Hugh Hefner by Buffy .

Flaws aside, Season 4 of Buffy is still sexy, mature and addictive television of the highest order.