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Monster High: The Movie Review | Skull’s In Session

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Put your paws together for the new class of Monster High. Monster High the Movie has tons of true Monster Heart reimagined for a new generation! This Fa-BOO-lus!! musical is SPOOKTACULAR! for the whole family & teaches young viewers great lessons on accepting your uniqueness.

The live-action movie musical is based on the iconic Monster High franchise about the children of famous monsters and creatures.

Monster High: The Movie follows Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris, Just Beyond), who was born half human and half werewolf, after she arrives at her new school, Monster High. She quickly makes friends with her classmates Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot, Dispatches from Elsewhere) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen, Grey’s Anatomy). For the first time in her life, Clawdeen feels like she has finally found a place where she fits in and can truly be herself, despite keeping her human half a secret. When a devious plan to destroy Monster High threatens to reveal her real identity, Clawdeen must learn to embrace her true monster heart and find a way to save the day alongside her new friends.

Halloween is fast approaching and it seems fitting that Nickelodeon celebrate with another spooky special that’s also streaming now on Paramount+. Monster High is a franchise brand from Mattel that launched back in 2010 and quickly became the second-most popular fashion doll brand behind Barbie. This multimedia franchise aimed at young children has since spanned cartoons, animated specials, video games, and books, now for the first time, these Monsters are heading to live-action. inspired by monster movies, sci-fi horror, thriller fiction, folklore, myths and popular culture, centring around the adventures of the teenage children of monsters and other mythical creatures attending a high school of the same name.

Monster High saw a relaunch in 2020 with dolls representing iconic horror films. This revamped franchise thanks to Mattel television, Nickelodeon, and Paramount+ will now also be releasing an upcoming reimagined CGI animated series.

New Ghouls At School

Welcome to Monster High, a place where freaky just got fabulous. This unique School brings all species of Monster together with only one rule no Humans allowed. when Clawdeen gets an acceptance letter to Monster High, it feels like her chances of belonging might improve.
Clawdeen is half-human, half-werewolf and as the world is forcing her to hide that part she learns to be ashamed of it. However, once she walks through the magical portal and the school’s front door, she’s instantly hit with the full assurance that she’s found her place where she can fully be herself.

Clawdeen quickly makes friends with her classmates Frankie Stein and Draculaura. Frankie is the child of Doctors Stein and was just born 15 days ago. Assembled from some of the greatest geniuses in history. What inclusive about this incarnation is that Frankie is non-binary. Monster High the Movie is a film that showcases that it’s okay to be you.
Frankie doesn’t know exactly what to say. They’re very creative, and also very optimistic, whilst having lots of knowledge about random things.

Draculaura’s always on her guard and seems to be under constant pressure. That might just be standard when you’re Dracula’s daughter. She’s a 1500-year-old vampire who doesn’t look a day over 15. A bit of a rebel, She may take a while to warm up – being undead and all – but her friendship and loyalty are worth the effort.

However, throughout the fantastical musical numbers and story, we witness the importance of friendship between these three roomies.

Ghoulish Details

Director Todd Holland has created something that’ll delight young Ghouls, the song and dance numbers are catchy and provide spooky entertainment, there’s also plenty of monster humour and puns that’ll delight Monster High fans. Overall Monster High: The Movie teaches the whole family & young viewers to be true to themselves as we come out of the dark and show our true Monster heart.

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Drama

Sam Miller to Direct Ewan McGregor’s Return to TV in Paramount+/Showtime’s ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’

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Ewan McGregor has shifted into the streaming era full-time. Coming off of Raymond and Ray, a feature film that was exclusive to AppleTV+ and the long-awaited Disney+ series following his iconic Star Wars character in Obi-Wan Kenobi, McGregor has another streaming project on the docket that just found its director.

According to an exclusive report from The Hollywood Reporter, Sam Miller, best known for directing all of HBO Max’s, I May Destroy You and episodes of Luther and Daredevil, will helm the U.K. limited series. In addition to directing, Miller, the BAFTA Award-winning director will also serve as an executive producer on the project. A Gentleman in Moscow was greenlit this past Summer and will debut internationally on Paramount+ and in the U.S. on the premium cable network, Showtime in 2023. Miller recently directed the AppleTV+ series, Surface but won the BAFTA for his role in directing I May Destroy You for HBO.

McGregor will star in the series as Count Alexander Rostov who after discovering his role within in the Russian Revolution, rethinks his place in history. It seems as though such an international series could appeal to many different audiences and the acumen of McGregor within his most recent choices would make many believe this to be a potential prestige play for the actor.

A Gentleman in Moscow is written by its showrunner, Ben Vanstone and is a part of Paramount+’s strategy to create and manufacture 150 international originals by 2025. The series is set to begin filming in early-2023.

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Netflix

The Watcher | A Disturbing, Haunting and Engaging Experience

The Watcher is a disturbing, haunting and engaging experience, and although the series is far from perfect, Netflix’s latest limited series is undoubtedly a must watch.

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Netflix’s latest limited series employs veteran thriller/horror writer Ryan Murphy (Americam Horror Story, Ratched and Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) to bring a disturbing true story to life. The Watcher is just that, disturbing, and the fact this actually happened to a real family is just terrifying. But with Murphy’s special horror spice, the series is tense, engaging and horrifying. Sure, The Watcher may not be among Murphy’s best work, but the series is nonetheless a must watch.

The Watcher sees the Brannock family as they move in to a lovely, quiant new home, 657 Boulevard, in a seemingly safe and luxurious neighborhood. It isn’t long until the Brannocks start receiving mysterious and sinister letters from someone known only as The Watcher. Soon after, the neighbours surrounding the house start to show their true colours, hinting at some very dark secrets. The Brannocks must try everything to find out who is terrorizing their family, before the family falls apart.

Still Courtesy of Netflix

This true story has Murphy written all over it. Although the real story was that sinister that Murphy didn’t really have to stretch his own creative and twisted imagination, for what funnily enough feels like a series of American Horror Story. We do however, still get hints of Murphy’s haunting imagination. Not only did Murphy write all the episodes, he had a dabble at directed the majority of the episodes as well, making for a much more suspensful and overall entertaining watch.

Murphy’s writing is brilliant, and unediniably engaging. You will be hooked from the very first letter the family recieve, forcing you to binge watch the entire series in one day. At least I did anyway. Similarly, the characters and neighbours are very mysterious and everyone will be a suspect until the series ends, making it incredibly hard to get a grasp of whats going on, and who is behind it all.

Still Courtesy of Netflix

The cast and performances were exceptional, Bobby Cannavale, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Coolidge, Margo Martindale, Joe Mantello and Christopher Mcdonald were standouts for sure, delivering many layered and creepy performances in their respective roles.

However, the series does fall flat towards the end and will leave many unsatisfied. And yes, this wasn’t the fault of Murphy as The Watcher was never actually discovered and the case is still unsolved to this day. But the way everything wrapped up in the final episode, felt a little rushed and somewhat forced.

All in all, The Watcher is an intriguing, tense and shocking new horror series from Ryan Murphy. The series may not be among Murphy’s best work, nor is it going to win any awards anytime soon. But for those looking for a new series to binge watch over a weekend, I highly reccomend The Watcher.

The Watcher is now available to stream on Netflix.

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The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power: Review | An Epic, Cinematic Journey Through Middle-Earth

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Sleeping evil, long-lost heroes, and a world without wizards? The Rings of Power is middle-Earth like you’ve never seen it before. The highly-anticipated Prime Video series The Lord of The rings: The Rings of Power is an ethereal and irresistible cinematic masterpiece. This season brings to the screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. 

The scope and scale of the story are immense as we begin to forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of compelling, familiar and new characters as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the farthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone. 

Photograph: Prime Studios

SECOND AGE

This fantastical universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien is much bigger and more expansive than just the events featured in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. This second age is defied by many events, victories, and defeats, but perhaps it’s well known to be the time when the Rings of Power were created. Spanning 3500 years, we witness the Harefoots, the Elves, Mankind, and dwarves all occupying a very different Middle-Earth, one where there is love but also darkness as a nameless shadow is waiting. The time period is documented extensively in The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s posthumously published book which was finished, edited and released by the author’s son, Christopher Tolkien in 1977. This is the setting of Prime Video’s The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, the most ambitious streaming show ever made. Amazon bought the rights to the trilogy, The Appendices, and The Hobbit and with the vast amount of material they’ve created something ambitious and worthy of Tolkien. This onscreen return showcases the mythology as the creative team has envisioned a sprawling bespoke series that’ll eventually be told across multiple seasons. The Second Age of Middle-Earth truly is an amazing untold story with themes focusing on fantasy and heart, dark sorcery and political drama, as one moment you’re exploring the landscape with the Harfoots and the next in the Elven realm discussing the fates of the Kingdom. 

Photograph: Prime Studios

ASSEMBLING A FELLOWSHIP

Some of the characters in The Rings of power will be familiar. Thanks to the everlasting nature of elven-kind we see younger versions of Galadriel and Elrond, previously played by Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Both these characters maintain the whole history of Middle-Earth, having lived through all the Three Ages. Galadriel now played by Morfydd Clark brings such an outstanding performance as The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power gives viewers a younger, grounded take on the character. Clark brings naivete to this immortal being who dons such graceful armour as this warrior has an instinct that evil is not finished. Elrond now played by Robert Aramayo is an architect and politician, he has strong ambitions as the herald to Gil-Galad, the King of Lindon, the elven kingdom where Elron resides. 

For each of the worlds in The Rings of Power, the creative team crafted a theme and their own language to show their beginnings, with the Elves being connected to a spiritual realm they have real ethereal quality, everything about them is shiny and lustrous. Contrast that with designing the Harfoots who are the ancestors of the Hobbits. They are much more primitive and live in the land. Harfoot are very endearing people and their styling is very much based on natural elements. They’re also very earthy with large feet and from lying in the undergrowth they have bits of branches and moss tangled in their matted hair.

The Dwarves are thriving in their underground kingdom of Khazad-dum during the Second Age. They’re mystique in their culture but you’ll see an expansive amount of gold down there. They are a strong-knit community with very traditional ways of being, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Disa and Durin played by Sophia Nomvete and Owain Arthur are the Princess and Prince of these Misty Mountains.

Headlining this ensemble cast are Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant), Robert Aramayo (HBO’s Game of Thrones), Owain Arthur (BBC’s Casualty), Maxim Baldry (Mr. Bean’s Holiday), Nazanin Boniadi (Showtime’s Homeland), Morfydd Clark (Saint Maud), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Showtime’s Ray Donovan), Charles Edwards (Netflix’s The Crown), Trystan Gravelle (ITV’s Mr. Selfridge), Sir Lenny Henry (Netflix’s The Witcher: Blood Origin), Ema Horvath (What Lies Below), Markella Kavenagh (True History of the Kelly Gang), Tyroe Muhafidin (Caravan), Sophia Nomvete (Award-winning UK Theatre actor), Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18), Megan Richards (Wanderlust), Dylan Smith (Maze Runner: The Death Cure), Charlie Vickers (Netflix’s Medici), Leon Wadham (Go Girls), Benjamin Walker (The Golden Compass), Daniel Weyman (BBC’s Silent Witness), and Sara Zwangobani (Monarch Cove).

Each actor had a unique challenge. Some had to follow in the footsteps of iconic performances and others got to bring iconic Tolkien characters to the screen for the very first time. The show presents itself as a more diverse version of Middle-Earth, which has always been a theme in Tolkien’s work as he often wrote characters uniting, despite their different backgrounds.

JOURNEY BACK TO MIDDLE-EARTH

I’ve seen the first two episodes, and they are filled with the kind of special effects magic that fans of Peter Jackson’s “Lord Of The Rings” movies and Tolkien’s books will love. It’s such a hugely expansive series as you have this army of fantastic technicians, artists, and craftsmen bringing such detail to the project on an epic scale. There are creatures and monsters such as the terrifying Orcs, the beastly creatures are visually grotesque and horrid which perfectly fit this world that’s full of darkness and shadows. there is also fighting, battles, and armies galore. The series truly hits the ground running with its intense action but also throughout it carries hefty themes of good vs evil, morality, hope among grief and ultimately a fellowship. Through Television we are able to get more time with these characters as they interact with each other. The sheer scale of the project is such a technical achievement for streaming especially, there are over 9,500 VFX shots in the first season alone. Director J.A. Bayona directs the first two episodes with such grandeur, that he beautifully captures the picturesque landscapes of New Zealand as he enhances the story through visual elements which included the overall sense of beauty. The cinematography and the use of light are astonishing thanks to Oscar Faura. Everything I witnessed whilst watching the first two episodes was delicious, especially the score by Bear McCreary. The Soundtrack which is available now honours the legacy as he created 15 new themes and melodies, it features a ninety-piece orchestra, plus a 40-voice choir. The score alone will transport you right back to Middle-Earth.

Photograph: Prime Studios

VERDICT

Have you ever wondered what else is out there beyond our wander? Ultimately The Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power an Ethereal & irresistible Cinematic Masterpiece. The scope & scale of the story is immense as we forge a new path through Tolkien’s Middle-Earth! Features stunning visuals, Storytelling, and compelling characters! Writers and showrunner McKay and Payne have written an unexpected journey full of twists, turns, and surprises.

THE RINGS OF POWERfrom Amazon Studios and JD Payne & Patrick McKaywill premiere exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories around the world in 32 languages on Friday, September 2, with new episodes available weekly.

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