Connect with us

Streaming & TV

STAR TREK: PICARD S02 | E01 “The Star Gazer” Review

Published

on

This review contains spoilers

Star Trek Picard season 2 marks the successful return of Jean-Luc Picard played by the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart. Now on Paramount Plus in the States and debuting today March 4th on Prime Video in the UK and internationally. In season one we saw a new side to the character after being absent on screen for over 20 plus years. It featured Picard now retired from Starfleet following the destruction of the planet Romulus and living on his family’s vineyard comfortably with his loving dog named Number 1 and his staff assistants. Picard is drawn into a new adventure and season two promises for more to come. Picard has a new crew, each a lost cause. They have a ship and a whole galaxy to explore the second season boldly goes where no man has gone before. 

Star Trek: Picard returns to our screens with an explosive episode titled “The Star Gazer” which debuts with familiar friends, old enemies, and the road not taken. 


Synopsis

Starfleet must once again call on legendary Jean-Luc Picard after members of his former crew – Cristóbal Rios, Seven of Nine, Raffi Musiker, and Dr Agnes Jurati – discover an anomaly in space that threatens the galaxy.

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Review

The long-awaited return of the Star Trek spinoff series has officially landed and along for the ride are quite a few friends, both old and new. Some of those friends, in fact, go way back to the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As Picard launches its sophomore voyage, the first episode slightly appears to be a reset of the series, considering the time jump, everything has evolved around them even the characters to some degree. There are ties and progressions to the first season but this season looks to have gone in an entirely new direction, and because I was lucky enough to have watched the first three episodes thanks to Prime Video UK, the new direction the show has taken is a very good one indeed. 

“The Star Gazer” was truly an excellent opener, offering us rich and rewarding character moments with an action-packed entrance as an intruder alert causes chaos on a Starfleet ship suffering an overloading amount of system failures. As a security team struggle to access the bridge we find a distressed Rios (Santiago Cabrera) now a captain, and Dr Jurati (Alison Pill) onboard the newly refurbished USS STARGAZER. The ship and crew encounter a rift in space and time that is sending out two signals, one a request to join the federation, and two a call for help which Jean-Luc Picard can only answer. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who also answers to this odd abnormal rift in space, now commands Rios’ ship the La Sirena. We find her fending off a gang of thieves who are looking to steal her medical supplies, luckily she gets a hand from Rios’ virtual assistant. All board the USS STARGAZER disaster strikes as an unidentifiable masked lady with robotic limbs starts taking over the ship and pauses to address Picard directly before he orders and initiates self-destruct. 

We then flashback to two days earlier where it’s a sunny day at Chateau Picard and the grapes are perfectly ripe for picking but in the future, they beam up straight from the vines. And as Picard contemplates over the change of seasons with Laris (Orla Brady), the two pour one out to toast successful growing and to their lost comrade Zhaban. She asks him why he’s chosen to be alone for all these years, and whilst she leans in for a kiss. Jean-Luc pulls himself away. As Laris wonders what from Picard’s past made him want to turn her down. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

“The Star Gazer” showed that it’s about the choices Picard made in his life that led him to become a Starfleet captain, and Laris, hopeful, pushes him to realise that it’s not too late for him. The flashbacks are done incredibly well as we learn the real reason why Picard sought the stars, it is also the most grounding and relatable subject in that Picard’s parents’ marriage was not perfect. His mother taught him to look towards the stars as a distraction from all the fighting. 

Picard is still mulling over Laris and the relationships he’s pushed back. All this over a bottle of Saurian Brandy, however, he reminisces with a very familiar listener. Picard keeps himself separated from those under his command, so that leaves very few people in his life with who he can be totally open. This marks the long-awaited return of Guinan, the former bartender and confidant to Picard, who he goes to for some much-needed advice on relationships. Whoopi Goldberg’s return to me felt like she is effectively driving the overall plot in season 2, she is able to call him out and pry’s some uncomfortable truths out of Picard. Her return for me was full of warmth and pure nostalgia and I do hope she’ll have a bigger purpose this season. 

Photo Cr: Nicole Wilder/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Though Winemaking is Picard’s part-time occupation, he has now returned as an Admiral and heads up Starfleet Academy, where he gives his impactful speech, sharing his sentiment wisdom with the young cadets, he speaks of second chances and that “the true final frontier is time”. He also brings up his mother’s words to “look-up”. Raffi (Michelle Hurd) is there as a teacher and Elnor (Evan Evagora) as a cadet, the first Romulan one. Both are heading off on an assignment. seven is keeping her distance from a frustrated Raffi as, during the time jump, their relationship got complicated, crippled by their competing needs and commitments. Michelle Hurd and Jeri Ryan are bringing such common ground to their characters and are such strong-minded with how they’re able to truthfully react, and dive into a relationship. 

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

Now with Picard being reinstated and briefed on the strange request from the rift in space, Picard takes the first shuttle over to the USS STARGAZER and reunites with his crew. Onboard he is treated with the utmost respect whilst Seven feels an uncomfortable welcoming as this new reincarnation of a ship was apparently built using technology from the Borg cube in season one. In response to Picard’s hail, we see the space rift crackle as a gigantic triangular diamond-shaped ship appears which unfortunately is operated and occupied by Borgs who want to begin negotiations by transporting what we believe to be the Queen onto Stargazer’s bridge. All hell breaks loose as the masked emissary takes control and assimilates not just the USS STARGAZER but also the entire fleet. We then catch up to what we saw at the beginning of the episode where Picard orders a self-destruct before hearing the Queen telling him to “look up”. 

Despite the Stargazer exploding, Picard finds himself alone back at his Chateau. Dressed in an unfamiliar looking black uniform and the chateau itself has taken on a spartan/warrior appearance. Laris is nowhere to be seen and in her place is a synth named Harvey. He wonders aloud what’s happening, and this is where I kid you not, chills ran down my spine as a familiar voice replies “An excellent question, Jean-Luc”. Of course, it’s Q (John de Lancie), who politely snaps up to Picard’s age. Picard’s longtime foil is perfect for a season that is clearly about time, as the extra-dimensional fan-favourite being is back to mess with Picard. John de Lancie’s return is everything I hoped for.

Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

He tells Picard that humanity’s trial still has not ended and the circumstances Picard has found himself in is truly the very end of the road not taken. 

Verdict

Star Trek: Picard season 2 marks the successful return of Jean-Luc Picard
in his most personal & intimate series to date. It’s a time-twisting, mind-
bending adventure that reflects on personal matters as characters are thrown into turmoil. What awaits them is a mischievous game, a trial that has begun, & a clock that is
ticking.

Episode one comes from writers Akiva Goldsman and Terry Matalas and director Doug Aarniokoski

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Streaming & TV

‘Knuckles’ Review | A Warrior’s Journey of Self-Discovery

Published

on

This review was made possible by advance screeners of all six episodes of Knuckles. All episodes of Knuckles release on Paramount+ on April 26 and April 27 in the UK.

Paramount+ has made a triumphant return to the Sonic the Hedgehog universe with their latest event series, “Knuckles,” celebrating the 30th anniversary of the beloved character this year after his first appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 back in 1994. Knuckles the Echidna, portrayed brilliantly by Idris Elba, truly gets his time to shine in this six-episode streaming series that I thought truly delivers a fresh and captivating take on the iconic Sega character. Plus It’s only fitting that Paramount’s version of the character should get a chance in the spotlight, and boy do they deliver. 

This series stands out as one of the best interpretations of Knuckles we’ve seen thus far, capturing his stoic and proud nature while also infusing moments of comic relief. Throughout, the six episodes seamlessly weave an original narrative while simultaneously staying true to the essence of Sonic’s world, and the Paramount franchise offers a cohesive and visually striking continuation of the previous two Sonic movies. 

Paramount

The second installment of Sonic the Hedgehog found Knuckles (Idris Elba) choosing to remain on Earth and guard the master emerald. The Paramount+ series begins with Knuckles getting used to life in Green Hills and is ultimately tasked with mentoring the bumbling sheriff’s deputy Wade Whipple (Adam Pally). Knuckles takes on the role of a guide and leader as the series takes them both on a hilarious and action-packed road-trip journey of self-discovery as he agrees to train Wade (Adam Pally) as his protégé and teach him the ways of the Echidna warrior. The series takes place between the films Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3. However, despite Knuckles being the title of the show, Wade Wipple plays a significant role, adding to the dynamic and charm of the storyline as a beloved character from the previous movies.

Paramount

Wade is on a journey from zero to hero in a tale of self-discovery. Whipple is an underdog in every sense of the word, and while he has a good heart, he’s significantly lacking in skills and self-confidence. The dynamic between him and the lovable Green Hills deputy Wade Whipple, portrayed by Adam Pally, adds depth and humour to the storytelling. Pally’s portrayal of Wade as an underdog on a journey of self-discovery brings a refreshing and endearing touch to the series, balancing the comedic elements with heartfelt character development.

While Sonic is cheerful and embraces Earth’s pop culture, Knuckles is a lot more dis-trusting and judgmental. Meanwhile, Wade’s pretty much a Sheriff’s deputy and fits none of the cop cliches. He’s nothing resembling a warrior, and he’s underestimated by every single person in his life. Knuckles and Wade are both remote in unique ways, and that’s the key to the series’ success. Both Pally and Elba are outstanding but as a result, Pally ends up stealing the show. By adding layers to the character and driving the narrative with humour and heart. The series is arguably more about Wade than it is about Knuckles, but Idris Elba does get some moments to shine another favourite of mine was Stockard Channing as Wade’s Mum, Wendy Whipple. 

Director Jeff Fowler expertly reintroduces familiar faces like Sonic, Tails, and Maddie Wachowski, grounding the series in its established universe while creators John Whittington and Toby Ascher explore new depths for Knuckles and Wade. The offbeat and unpredictable dynamic between the two leads sets the series apart, offering a fresh perspective on the Sonic universe that fans will appreciate.

Paramount

Idris Elba’s portrayal of Knuckles shines, showing a different side of the character. Ultimately, the incorporation of comedy, action, and heartwarming moments kept me engaged throughout the series. With warming themes on finding ones home, it is apparent that Knuckles is the last remaining member of his species, and from the beginning, it is evident that he holds the belief that “an echidna warrior has no home.” Therefore, it is expected that by the conclusion of the season, we will witness his transformation as he embraces a newfound sense of belonging. Whipple is instrumental in facilitating this change by providing Knuckles with the support of a loving family, complete with Stockard Channing, as I’ve mentioned being a standout in the role of his mother, who introduces him to the comforting embrace of their Jewish-American customs.

Paramount

We also witness the family and sibling dynamic, especially at the dinner table between Edi Patterson’s Wanda and Pally’s Wade, which is delightfully juvenile and petty. Though they both portray cops in this, she gets to one-up him a bit as an actual FBI agent, rubbing that in her brother’s face. The Whipple family, I found, brought further depth and entertainment to the series, enhancing the overall viewing experience. Episode three is a firm favourite.

However, hot on their tails are Agents Mason (Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi) and Willoughby (Ellie Taylor), who are in close pursuit, revealing the underlying tensions within the narrative. I found the Team Rocket-like dynamic of the G.U.N agents particularly engaging. However, I found some of the antagonists lacking in intrigue, especially when compared to the compelling portrayal of Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik in the previous films. The goals of these antagonists felt derivative, echoing a familiar yet diluted plot from the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie. The Knuckles trailer, featuring the iconic 1990s rap song “Knuck if You Buck,” showcased Rory McCann in a mysterious villain role. Known for his role as the Hound in Game of Thrones, McCann’s talent feels underutilised in this series. The character of The Buyer is disappointingly underdeveloped. However, Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi) and Ellie Taylor deliver enjoyable performances as the antagonists, bringing a sense of fun and charisma to their roles. While their motivations are not deeply explored, their association with G.U.N. provides enough context for their menacing presence. Despite the lack of character development, the actors’ performances elevate the portrayal of these antagonists.

Paramount

As a fan of Sega’s iconic Hedgehog and the games I found that the series is enriched with thoughtfully placed Easter eggs and references, catering to fans like myself with a keen eye for detail. To my amazement, Knuckles undergoes a surprising transformation into a rock opera midway through, featuring spectacular needle drops and a soundtrack. The choice of the ’80s rock anthem ‘The Warrior’ by Scandal is a stroke of genius. It elevates the narrative and sets the tone for the action-packed adventure. The animated credit sequence features rewritable CDs organised in a binder, adds a unique touch to the overall presentation.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, “Knuckles” masterfully incorporates humour, action, and heartfelt moments, providing a captivating portrayal of the beloved Sonic character. The series excels in storytelling, performances, and hidden gems, ushering in an exciting new chapter for the Sonic The Hedgehog Cinematic Universe and leaving audiences eagerly anticipating more. Adam Pally delivers a standout performance in the six episodes alongside Idris Elba’s Knuckles. This lighthearted and entertaining series strikes a perfect balance between adventure and emotion, making it a hit with families.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Comic Book Movies

The Penguin | Official Teaser — HBO Max

Following the events of ‘The Batman,’ Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, makes a play to grab the reigns of the crime world in Gotham.

Published

on

By

Genre:

Crime, Drama, Fantasy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Craig Zobel

Cast:

Colin Farrell, Cristin Milioti, Rhenzy Feliz

Plot Summary:

Following the events of ‘The Batman,’ Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin, makes a play to grab the reigns of the crime world in Gotham.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Action

‘Warrior ‘ Cancelled After Three Seasons

Netflix has acquired the rights to ‘Warrior’

Published

on

Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) has fought his final fight over at MAX, as the beloved martial arts show, Warrior, has been cancelled after just three seasons. However, fans may be happy, and hopeful to learn that streaming giant, Netflix has recently acquired all rights to the three seasons of the show set to start streaming February 2024. Does this mean we could get a fourth season after all? Well as we’ve seen with previous shows like Cobra Kai, one of Netflix’s biggest successes’, if Warrior does become a successful addition to the Netflix catalogue, then a fourth season is all but guaranteed. But only time will tell.

Starting its journey on Cinemax for its first two seasons, before landing an temporary place on MAX for its recent third season, Warrior now finds its third home in four years. Its first season premiered in 2019 on Cinemax through to 2020 before the the network announced the cancellation of all original programming. A year later, in 2021, MAX announced a third season of the show which premiered this summer.

Still from Warrior (MAX)

Series creator Jonathon Tropper shared in an exclusive article from Deadline that “Warrior is a show that simply refuses to die. Through platform and regime changes, the writers, producers, cast, crew, and our stunt team continued to make something powerful, relevant, and wildly unique. And now, thanks to Netflix, we’ve been given yet another lease on life, and I’m thrilled for everyone involved that millions more viewers around the world will discover it”.

Based upon the writings of legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, Warrior follows Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy from China, who immigrates to San Francisco and a hatchet man for the most powerful Tong in all of China town.

For now though, Warrior is still available to stream on MAX

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Popular Now

Advertisement
Advertisement

TRENDING NOW

Trending

CoastalHouseMedia.com is a property of Coastal House LLC. © 2012 All Rights Reserved. Images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies/owners.

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x