We are now up to the third season of Xena, which follows both a succesful Season 1 and a fine sophomore entry. Season 3 is where Xena: Warrior Princess goes in a more daring and adult direction, and I for one am thrilled. Real emotion and gruelling darkness follow, making it more mature than some may think the show is capable of. It’s standing as my favourite season so far for its impact and way it progresses the show. Be warned, spoilers may follow in my overview.
The legendary Xena( Lucy Lawless) is once more travelling around Ancient Greece and beyond with her trusted best friend Gabrielle(Renée O’Connor). Fighting for the side of good against the evils that stand in the way, the duo are a force to be reckoned with. Only this time, things will turn very personal and threaten to tear apart the bonds of friendship between them. It begins when they arrive in Britannia where Xena wants to have it out with her old nemesis Caesar. Gabrielle is entranced by someone claiming to be a holy man, but it turns out to be something darker. After a fiery encounter with the followers of the dark lord Dahak and the fact that she loses her blood innocence, Gabrielle is impregnated with the child of darkness. Soon after giving birth, all hell breaks loose and the strong bond that Xena and Gabrielle possess reaches breaking point. You genuinely worry about the outcome of all this darkness for the two of them. Though events bring them back together and approaching some reconciliation, just how much longer can their friendship really stand on solid ground after all they’ve been through? With characters returning and more emotional and disturbing stories, Season 3 is a journey into thrills and drama.
As I stated earlier, Season 3 is my favourite season of Xena: Warrior Princess so far. I think everything comes together very neatly and it’s why there is such a high percentage of episodes rated A or A+ below. You can tell that the creators where going for something different but still with that zing that made the show so popular. They weren’t afraid to do different things with the show and incorporate genuine feeling into the mix either. On the visual side, the scenery and camerawork continue to impress with their scope. And once more, the music has a certain epic charm ripe for this kind of adventure. It’s a mightily impressive season of a show that just keeps growing.
Anyway, onto my appraisals of standout episodes. ‘The Furies’ mixes humour and darkness well. A conniving Ares( Kevin Smith of the smooth voice and deadly charm offensive) has The Furies put a curse on Xena for not avenging the murder of her father, which opens up a massive can of worms. In the beginning, the madness Xena suffers is mainly unusual but with a funny twist( like Xena repeatedly referring to Gabrielle as Mavis). But as it continues, harshness and shock set in as she spins further towards losing control, while strangely being not altogether incoherent. It’s an interesting opener that’s for sure and displays two of the show’s finest assets; it’s off the wall goofiness and underlying seriousness. ‘Been There, Done That’ is another exemplary chapter which features the day repeating itself and Xena attempting to figure out how to break the cycle. Once more, humour and eventfulness go hand in hand as two feuding families seem to hold the key to unlocking how to stop Groundhog Day. Speaking of which, this episode is clearly another version of that story of a day on a loop and it has a lot of fun with it. Watching Xena get more frustrated with the repeating events is hilarious as are the various ways she attempts to stop the loop continuing. Really a very funny episode and hugely entertaining. Despite being the darkest season thus far, Season 3 of Xena: Warrior Princess has its share of good comedy too, exemplified by the early entries. And of mention is ‘The Quill is Mightier’. The spiteful and impudent Aphrodite( who has grown on me since her last appearance as Alexandra Tydings is stepping it up) enchants Gabrielle’s scrolls as payback for making Xena more popular than her. In turn, things that Gabrielle writes become true, but chaos ensues as it gets overly literal. Ares makes another appearance, entertainingly squabbling with Aphrodite as they are both accidentally made mortal. And for an episode that doesn’t have Xena in it a lot, “The Quill is Mightier “shows that Gabrielle can be just as interesting as the hero she rides with.
‘The Deliverer’ is when the show starts what is known to fans as the beginning of The Rift. Xena has been a show that has dabbled in darkness before, but here in Season 3, it’s the darkest it’s ever been and all the more fascinating for it. Starting with’ The Deliverer’, where Xena and Gabrielle head to Britannia to help Boadicea battle Xena’s old nemesis, Julius Caesar. Conflict becomes a big theme and not just the physical kind. We have Xena having to reconnect with who she betrayed in the past and Gabrielle becoming closer to a priest she helped save. It’s more what happens to Gabrielle that’s most important here. The priest speaks of the One God and how he will change the world, to which Gabrielle becomes fascinated. But it’s all a ruse that causes her to unintentionally lose her blood innocence after killing another, which in turn frees a dark God known as Dahak. Gabrielle has always been the person against killing so for this to come along and shatter it, it’s pretty momentous and tragic. You can feel the pain of her suffering, which is further cemented by her being levitated above flames( this will have a big impact later). Let’s say it packs an emotional wallop and further kicks off this dark story arc. The follow up in ‘Gabrielle’s Hope’ is just as effective. In it, we discover Gabrielle is pregnant by Dahak and gives birth in a matter of days to a baby girl, prophesied to be the bringer of darkness. Gabrielle believes that the baby( which she names Hope) will be good due to her own , but Xena is severely sceptical . Xena is proved right when the baby kills within hours of birth and attempts to kill the baby. Gabrielle won’t let this happen and runs, hiding the baby in a basket she sends down the river. She then lies to Xena by telling her that she had to kill Hope because she turned on her. It once more functions as something to divide the close friends and put a strain on their relationship. Again, the darkness is at the forefront in a way that is unlike most of Xena, but a very welcome one for me. Plus, The Rift is coming out in major full force, building slowly to something dark. A two parter entitled ‘The Debt’ is Xena at its most lavish and ambitious, once more weaving together timelines. We discover more about a woman who shaped Xena and The Debt she has to pay to the now deceased mentor. We travel to ancient Chin where Xena is saved from betrayal by Lao Ma, a wise woman who sees the good in her despite her sins. instructs Xena in the ways of love and forgiveness, while caring for the warrior woman and helping her to fight when needed. Back in the present, Xena is charged with killing the evil son of Lao Ma, but Gabrielle tries to stop her thinking she is doing good and not letting Xena go back to her murderous wats. Ultimately, Gabrielle betrays Xena by informing those closest to the man she is about to kill what Xena is planning. The sting of betrayal further exemplifies the growing rift between them that is briefly healed, but you just know will return to bite soon in some way. I’m a sucker for episodes that go into Xena’s past and shows us how she was shaped into what she is in the present. Overall it’s a gorgeously shot and exciting double header that digs into the past and has some of the most gorgeous imagery so far in the show.
Now it comes to two of the best episodes. In ‘Maternal Instincts’, Hope returns now with the appearance of an innocent girl. She brings back the terrifying and psychopathic Callisto( a memorable Hudson Leick), who persuades her to hurt Xena. Meanwhile, Xena and Gabrielle head to the Centaurs for a peace treaty and to see Xena’s son, Solan( who still isn’t aware of who his mother is). But this reunion is cut short, when Solan is killed by Hope and when Gabrielle realises this, she poisons her offspring which devastates her. Xena’s scream while cradling her son’s dead body is gut-wrenching as is the later funeral for both children which is the major part of the rift as the wedge is driven to near irrevocable between the two. Watching as they walk off in separate directions after this is tragic as their friendship is being nearly obliterated. It’s a highly emotional hour of television. Then of course we have the fantastic musical episode entitled ‘The Bitter Suite’ . After a vengeful Xena attempts to kill Gabrielle and the two take a tumble into the sea, they are transported to a strange world called Illusia. Here, musical numbers reveal their grievances and what feelings of hatred they aren’t dealing with. The musical sequences are excellently astute at bringing humour and dark atmosphere to the events playing out, plus it looks like the producers really went for it on the visual and sound front. From the off kilter feeling of Illusia, through a tango with Ares and ultimately a reconciliation between the girls, it’s an unforgettable episode. And the biggest message of the importance of friendship helps save the day as our heroines find some way to resolve the friendship that they once had. Thankfully, it looks as if the wounds are healing but it’ll be interesting to see if they ever truly get past this dark chapter( my bet and hope is that it does as I love their relationship and think it’s enduring). These two are some of the finest episodes so far in Xena and rightfully hold a high place in the hearts of fans and me. They challenge us as viewers as we watch a friendship nearly go up in smoke, but gradually get back on track for us all to rejoice in. And as if by magic, the following episode ‘One Against An Army’ cements just how much they care for each other by putting them in a major life or death situation as an army invades as Gabrielle lies injured. I think it’s here to reassure us of the close bond that was shattered but was never truly severed. It’s another poignant episode that grows in dramatic quality thanks to the acting. Also of note is the dark but rewarding ‘Forget Me Not’ where Gabrielle finally reconciled with feelings of guilt by going on a sinister trip down memory lane, guided by a prowling Ares. She can decide whether to live with her memories or erase them. Ultimately she decides to reconcile and this is the end to The Rift. And the two part finale is excellent and very surprising, but I’ll leave it to you to see what I mean.
In terms of acting, Season 3 is a high point, especially when it comes to Lucy Lawless and. Lawless excellently conveys both a fighter and someone who is all too human in Xena. The blend of toughness and vulnerability, coupled with undeniable sexual appeal and athletic swagger, is a match made in television heaven that keeps getting better. Gabrielle is put through the mill of emotions and trauma this seas. Renée O’Connor depicts how Gabrielle really starts to wise up more and develop a more harder edge to her personality. Her compassion is still there it’s just counteracted with a sense of weariness from all that has happened to her. Lawless and O’Connor still share a fine chemistry that charts the resentment and resolution of their clash excellently and believably as nothing can tear them apart. Once more, Kevin Smith is superb as the shifting Ares; who like a fox switches sides when he feels like it but does it with style. In the villain stakes as well is Hudson Leick as the oddly tragic but seriously twisted Callisto, who finally gets the release she’s craved since she began her path of vengeance. There’s a real presence whenever these two take to the screen. And with added comic relief coming from Joxer( played by one Ted Raimi, things only get better as throughout the season. Plus, the welcome appearance of Bruce Campbell is a bonus in many ways and I very much enjoy when he returns to Xena as the King of Thieves, Autolycus.
And now on to my episode ratings:
- The Furies – A
- Been There, Done That – A+
- The Dirty Half Dozen – B-
- The Deliverer – A+
- Gabrielle’s Hope – A
- The Debt Part 1 – A
- The Debt Part 2 – A
- The King of Assassins – C
- Warrior … Priestess … Tramp – B
- The Quill is Mightier – A
- Maternal Instincts – A+
- The Bitter Suite – A+
- One Against an Army – A
- Forgiven – C
- King Con – B
- When in Rome – C+
- Forget Me Not – A
- Fins, Femmes and Gems – B+
- Tsunami – C+
- Vanishing Act – A
- Sacrifice Part 1 – A+
- Sacrifice Part 2 – A+
My favourite Season so far, Season 3 of Xena has all you’d want from the show and more. Trust me, this is the show at its apex with everything operating at a high level.
I was saddened to hear of Doris Day’s passing at the age of 97. Blessed with a lovely singing voice, winning smile and wholesome appeal, she was seemingly destined to be a star. Off screen she was known for her animal welfare activism which was very close to her heart. Adept at romantic comedy and musicals, she showed her often underrated gift for drama in many a film. It’s a sad day as one of the greats has left us. But what a legacy she leaves behind.
I want to apologise for not being around so much. Life has been very busy but I’m getting back into the groove of things. Hope everyone understands, I shall be back momentarily.
1990's, Andie MacDowell, Charlotte Coleman, David Bower, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant, James Fleet, John Hannah, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mike Newell, Richard Curtis, Romantic Comedy, Rowan Atkinson, Simon Callow
- Hugh Grant
- Andie MacDowell
- Kristin Scott Thomas
- Simon Callow
- John Hannah
- James Fleet
- Charlotte Coleman
- David Bower
- Rowan Atkinson
A most beguiling and funny romance that helped launch the career of Hugh Grant, Four Weddings and a Funeral has lost none of its witty edge, eccentric characters and unexpected pathos.
Charles(Hugh Grant) is someone who can’t seem to keep a relationship. He’s a perennial bachelor, never the groom. With a rag-tag group of friends- cynical Fiona(Kristin Scott Thomas), her not too bright brother Tom(James Fleet), partners Gareth and Matthew(Simon Callow and John Hannah), sassy flat mate Scarlett(Charlotte Coleman) and his deaf brother David(David Bower)- he’s always attending weddings. In most cases, he is late due to clumsiness. Although he’s never seemingly considered marriage or a serious relationship, he finds his world changed when he meets Carrie(Andie MacDowell). She’s an American wedding guest who he meets at the first nuptials. They hit it off and spend the night together. But timing isn’t on their side and Carrie leaves for the States. The next time they meet(at another wedding) Carrie is engaged to someone else. For the first time in his life, Charles actually falls in love with someone deeply. But even though it’s clear that Carrie has some feeling for Charles, can anything come of the attraction seeing as though their timing is nearly always off?
Director Mike Newell brings polish and pace to proceedings with direction that allows the events to have amusing and fun atmosphere throughout, coupled with moments of sadness and reflection. As the events centre around the what the title says, we know to expect eventfulness, but it’s surprising how well crafted this romantic comedy is. Although it seems we may know where events are going, a few little twists and unexpected moments raise it from just another comedy romance. The Oscar-nominated screenplay from Richard Curtis is a big success at fleshing out the characters as they navigate the sea of love. The script makes us enjoy the company of these people and we grow to love them. They all have wit, charm and purpose in the story and you enjoy feeling like you know them as they encounter all manner of awkwardness at functions. From being seated at a table of exes to improvising when forgetting wedding rings, they all occur in hilarious fashion. Between the skill of Newell and the fun of Curtis, Four Weddings and a Funeral is a good-hearted success. Laughs flow like great wine and the entertainment factor is high.
But Four Weddings and a Funeral also has a bittersweet undercurrent to offset any worries of overly sentimental treacle. I mean if you aren’t crying at the funeral scene where ‘Funeral Blues’ is delivered, you’ve clearly not got much of a heart. This movie can deliver on the serious stuff and isn’t afraid to either. This balances with the buoyant feeling of the overall film that has a laugh at love’s complexities and bad sense of timing. Four Weddings and a Funeral is heartwarming stuff with that added something extra, that lands it in the pantheon of excellent romantic comedies. A lovely and tentative score backs up blossoming romance and all the feelings love brings out in people. And one can’t forget the use of ‘ Love Is All Around ‘by Wet, Wet, Wet to close out the film.
Heading the cast is the irrepressibly charismatic Hugh Grant. Though he’s visited the persona of bumbling and foppish leading man many times in his career, this was where it started and is one of his best. Grant just boasts this lovable rogue and awkward vibe to him that really makes a mark in the film as he finally discovers love may in fact be on the cards for him. Endearing is the perfect word for Hugh Grant’s star making presence here. People occasionally rag on Andie MacDowell by saying she’s not the most expressive actress and sometimes it’s true ,but I think she is quite well cast as the potential love interest. She’s got radiance, vitality and a certain mystery that I love and displays they under good direction MacDowell is really something. Plus her burgeoning chemistry with Grant is delightful. Kristin Scott Thomas is reliable as ever, turning the role of the sarcastic Fiona into something more by revealing that her behaviour stems from unrequited love. Simon Callow and John Hannah are wonderful scene stealers playing the only happy couple among their group of friends. Callow is brash and full of life, Hannah is more subdued but wise. Both compliment the other in an inspired way that is convincing and involving. James Fleet is a hoot as is Charlotte Coleman as the most off the wall member of the gang and David Bower as Charles’ brother, who comes in handy in a crisis. An amusing small part is filled with great humour by Rowan Atkinson as a completely inept vicar.
A winning romantic comedy with heart and laughs, Four Weddings and a Funeral is hard to resist.
Having been so busy lately, I totally forgot that today was my seventh anniversary of blogging. Time has flown and I still can’t believe it’s been seven years. It’s all because of my loyal followers who are simply the best. This ones for you. So I’ll let the gif below express my appreciation of you all.
- Lupita Nyong’o
- Winston Duke
- Shahadi Wright Joseph
- Evan Alex
- Elisabeth Moss
- Tim Heidecker
A sophomore horror from Jordan Peele after the success of Get Out, Us may not reach the heights of its predecessor but it undoubtedly has something to say and is bolstered by fine acting.
As a child, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) was traumatised when she wandered into the hall of mirrors at the Santa Cruz boardwalk. She encountered what seemed like a doppelgänger but was never able to bring herself to tell her parents what happened. As an adult, Adelaide is now married to the affable Gabe Wilson( Winston Duke) and has two children, daughter Zora( Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason(Evan Alex). They are visiting Santa Cruz once more so they can see the wine-swilling and discontented Kitty(Elisabeth Moss) and Josh(Tim Heidecker), both friends of the couple. Adelaide has never confided in anyone about what happened all those years ago and is unsurprisingly apprehensive. While there, Jason wanders off which really terrifies Adelaide as it brings back bad memories and they return to their holiday home. A series of other coincidences alarm Adelaide and just as she is confessing to Gabe about her trauma , an eerie sight comes into view. To the horror of the Wilsons, they discover the figures outside are their doppelgängers . Menaced by their sinister counterparts, they are thrown into terror. And it appears that doppelgängers are not just for the Wilsons, but for many others too. Desperate to survive and protect her family, Adelaide must attempt to outwit the doubles and figure out their origins before it’s too late.
Jordan Peele is clearly going for something more ambitious here and displays immense talent too. Not every decision he makes is good, but he is largely at home with this kind of work. In relation to the highlight that was Get Out, Us falls short. But Get Out set a very high standard that it would be impossible to reach that level of success. On the praise front, Us most certainly keeps you glued with an unusual rhythm and the fact that we aren’t spoon fed information and is open to interpretation. Peele has you sympathise and get to know the Wilsons before all manner of hell breaks loose, which is commendable especially in the case of Adelaide. I don’t think Us will be a movie for everyone as it’s horror but with a difference. I’m firmly in the middle as of now, but I think the positives are outweighing the negatives.
Once you settle into the groove of the movie, Us begins to reveal its themes and message. And while it bites off more than it can chew, I was impressed by the allusions it made to the oppressive nature of society and duality. This is backed up by symbolism that eagle eyed viewers will eat up as it all means something. The humour gets a tad excessive and I would have appreciated Peele reigning it in a bit more. I found that some laughs overshadowed what Us was going for and didn’t really help. But the horror and off kilter imagery stands out for a start and continues throughout Us. It has been more than a bit overhyped, but definitely has its merits more than its faults. I feel that Us is one of those movies that will improve when watched again as there is mystery there and I’m sure parts that we might have missed. So watch this space as my mixed opinion may change in the future as I think more on it. There is some chewing the cud to do that’s for sure and certain.The score is pretty stellar at conveying the overall eerie and downright spooky nature of Us, while a well chosen soundtrack is in full swing too with many a highlight of juxtaposition.
The cast do wonders, especially considering each is playing two people. Lupita Nyong’o is the biggest standout with two fantastic and very convincing performances. While Adelaide is frightened but eventually strong, her doppelgänger is sinister and unnerving. She finely judges both roles and it’s simply amazing how much she puts into both, from the fierce look in Adelaide’s eyes to the skin-crawling voice of her double. It takes a strong actress to convince as two very different characters, but Lupita Nyong’o is more than up to the challenge. Nyong’o deserves nothing but praise for her accomplishment here which is two completely different performances executed handsomely. Winston Duke injects a lot of humour into the role of affable father and husband, he does get some of the best lines and runs with them with fine comic timing. He also provides a hulking presence as his creepy double. Usually kids in horror movies fall into two categories; believable and annoying nuisance. Thankfully Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex are in the former category and hold their own against more experienced co-stars. In a small but memorable role, Elisabeth Moss conveys the dissatisfaction and vanity of her character with ease and commitment. Then she turns it up a few notches as a nefarious but strangely tragic double. Tim Heidecker supplies good support too as her husband.
A bit overly ambitious but nonetheless creepy and with many messages among the horror, Us gets by on atmosphere and excellent acting, particularly from Lupita Nyong’o.