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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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Olly Dyche is a British film critic and self proclaimed professional nerd. As a member of the International Film Society Critics, Olly has had much experience as a film critic and journalist. His passion for film has inspired him to do what he does best. That being, staying anti-social, watching any and every movie and TV show he can, as well as giving his "professional" opinions whether you ask for it or not. With his Cineworld Unlimited card (input cheeky plug here) you will most likely find Olly at his local Cineworld cinema, chomping down on some sweet (yeah, that's right sweet over salted baby) popcorn whilst soaking in the glorious visuals of the latest big screen release, most likely, a horror, comic book or Disney movie.

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Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda The Musical’ Review | A Whimsical Delight

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Matilda The Musical was MAGICAL!, MISCHIEVOUS!, MIRACULOUS!,& MAGNIFICENT! Director Matthew Warchus splendiferously brings the WHIMSICAL! World of Roald Dahl to life alongside fantastical musical numbers from Tim Minchin showcases the power of Storytelling!

Matilda Wormwood (Alisha Weir) is a little girl with a big curiosity, a sharp mind and a vivid imagination – and the worst parents in the world. While her parents (Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough) content themselves with trashy TV and dodgy money-making schemes, she loves to lose herself in the pages of her beloved books. Where they are loud, selfish and unkind, she is a quiet observer, thinking up small and cheeky acts of rebellion and revenge. On Meeting her inspirational teacher, Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch), Matilda is encouraged and begins conjuring her own fantastical tales. Excited to attend Crunchem Hall, Matilda is surprised to find the school is an ominous and oppressive place led by the huge and villainous Miss Trunchbull (Emma Thompson).

As well as the kind Miss Honey, the bright lights among the meanness are story-loving librarian Mrs Phelps (Sindhu Vee), and Matilda’s new-found school friends. Filled with an overwhelming sense of justice, Matilda dares to take a stand for what is right and teach the Trunchbull a lesson she won’t forget.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Review

Bringing Matilda’s magic to the silver screen

“Matilda The Musical” has been brought to the silver screen by the man who won the Olivier and was nominated for the Tony in regards to the stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed musical, which premiered in 2010. Director Matthew Warchus showcases the power of the underdog and how any one of us might tackle the things that oppress us, the film carries a strong moral core about righting wrongs. The musical itself written by Dennis Kelly is so energetic, witty, and reminiscent of Dahl, it’s joyful and exhilaratingly magical as it translates from stage to screen. And after the successful theatrical experience, the film excitingly goes even further by exploring and delving deeper into Roald Dahl’s fantastical world bringing us into Matilda’s home, the circus, and throughout the hallowed walls of Crunchem Hall.

Matilda as a character to many readers is unique and inspirational and throughout the story, she’s there to help other people and change the world for the better. She is a survivor and an amazingly strong person because she is immensely brave. She stands up to people much bigger, much older, and much more physically powerful than she is. Of course, it’s a story in which the victories achieved by this unexpected hero are through the force of her brain power. This is a story that bigs up intelligence.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. (L to R) Meesha Garbett as Hortensia, Charlie Hodson-Prior as Bruce Bogtrotter in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

“Matilda The Musical” appeals to young and old audiences because of its whimsy wickedness and Dahl’s ability to create a colourful cast of characters. Casting these iconic roles was certainly an incredible feat as a star is born in Alisha Weir who portrays the titular character in her very first feature film production. Weir has a sense of maturity and can be a little bit naughty when she needs to be, she is an enigmatic character and for quite a lot of the story, she is quite earnest and unchildlike. When her parents are cruel, she is strong, she gets back up again. She knows she isn’t going to be with them for the rest of her life but for the bits that she is, she is going to show them that you can’t go around treating people badly, they need to be taught a lesson, Matilda is so determined that If she wants something, she’ll get it and she’ll do it.

Mr & Mrs Wormwood played charismatically by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough act as if their basically children, they don’t see their daughter, they are very self-centred and egotistical their primary concern is making and spending money, often in a rather dubious and dishonest fashion, whilst Mrs Wormwood’s obsession for ballroom dancing seems to be her only real passion in life.. Matilda is at best an inconvenience to them and at worst someone to compete with.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Miss Honey, portrayed by Lashana Lynch, is the emotional centre of the story and Lynch truly carries the role beautifully as everyone’s favourite teacher. She is someone who made a difference and when audiences come to this story, they are immediately on Miss Honey’s side, they value her immensely. In this particular story, she has a complicated and bruising backstory and the more that comes to light the more we realise she is a wounded healer. She has made a great deal of surviving on her own and helping the children that come through her classroom but not far below the surface, she is scarred and damaged. Matilda sees that and they see it in each other, that is their common ground and it creates a bond between them and makes them soul mates. She shares both incredible chemistry with Weir and Thompson who portrays the ruthless and fromiddbale Headmistress.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Emma Thompson’s portrayal of the outrageous Headmistress Miss Trunchbull is absolutely scene-stealing. Thompson brings a threatening presence to her performance showcasing a serious back story that is important and gives a reason for the way she behaves whilst also providing some of the films gags and whimsical silliness. Trunchbull is the adversary Matilda deserves, our little hero has to overcome a real threat, a real monstrous power and Dahl describes her perfectly in the book saying “She’s a merciless and imposing character”.

Thompson’s physical transformation into the over-sized bully with a penchant for cruel and scary punishments was certain striking. Prosthetics were used to create the menacing presence alongside her costume which includes a belt of frightful tools, there is an air of desperation around her. Her singing is also impressive with Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics beautifully match Dahl’s tone. ” The Smell of Rebellion” and “The Hammer” are my favourite musical numbers in the production and Thompson delivers each note with Trunchbull’s psychotic madness.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Musical Masterpiece

Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics were a treat throughout, his work is completely genius as every character’s song have their own personalities and there is not one lyric, note or inflection that doesn’t match what the character is feeling at every given moment. The lyrics speak for themselves as every song embuded with energy has a different style, cadence, tone and tempo. The dialogue truly blends seamlessly with the start of each song. Every song complements the text, the characters and the world of Matilda. Minchin an incredibly gifted composer and lyrist actually tried to get the rights to Matilda back in 2000 speaking of Roald Dahl and Matilda Minchin says that “Matilda is everything I want in a hero: resilient, brilliant, morally-driven, and a total book nerd! She stands up to bullies on behalf of those she loves. And she forgives people who have done her wrong.”

He worked closely on the songs and their placement with both Warchus and writer Dennis Kelly as well as with the “music supervisor, orchestrator, and eventual co-composer Chris Nightingale.” His soutrack embodies hope, empathy, and imagination and each track can make you laugh and cry, especially a new song written for the film “Still Holding My Hand”.

“My House” is another emotional song sung by Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) throughout the song she is also being incredibly vulnerable in front of this young child. At the start of the film, we see all the negativity and trauma and pain coming to the surface. We learn that she is lying to herself and convincing herself that she’s okay, which is very relatable. 

The film also boasts incredible choreography with over 230 children dancing and singing. The children are doing amazing things in this movie and are absolutely incredible, special mentions go too Winter Jarrett-Glasspool, Ashton Robertson, Rei Yamauchi Fulker, and Andrei Shen. “Matilda The Musical” truly brings to the screen a sense of wonder, spectacle, and a stage production that’s leaped onto the screen.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Charlie Hodson-Prior as Bruce Bogtrotter in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical” encourages viewers to tell stories and use their minds in fantastical ways, after all that what Dahl’s stories celebrate, the incredible potential of young people and the power of kindness, his fantastical words leap onto the screen as does Quentin Blake’s illustrations. The character of Mrs. Phelps played by Sindhu Vee showcase that Matilda and her are kindred spirits in their love of reading and of stories and the worlds they can inhabit, away from their own, through both. It helps that Matilda is quite a mature child and Mrs. Phelps is quite a child-like adult, Its the perfect match.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Cr. Dan Smith/Netflix © 2022

Final Thoughts

Overall Roald Dahl’s “Matilda The Musical” is an inspirational musical tale of an extraordinary girl who discovers her superpower and summons the remarkable courage, against all odds,to help others change their stories,while also taking care of her own destiny & Standing up for what’s right!

Netflix will release the film across the world this holiday season. Sony Pictures UK and Tristar Pictures have exclusively released the film now in cinemas in the UK and Ireland.

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Netflix Adds Prestige to Action/Comedy ‘Back in Action,’ Adds Glenn Close and Kyle Chandler to Cast

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Cameron Diaz’s return to acting is drawing more A-list talent for the streaming action-comedy. According to a report from Deadline, Glenn Close and Kyle Chandler will join the cast for Back in Action alongside Diaz and Jamie Foxx. The project was announced via Foxx’s Instagram back in June and has many excited as it will be Diaz’s first film since Annie back in 2014. 

The plot details are being held under wraps for now, but Back in Action will be directed by Seth Gordon, who previously directed Horrible Bosses and Baywatch. The cast assembled is exciting as almost everything Jamie Foxx is in recently is at least worth pure entertainment value while Close and Chandler bring prestige to the project as well.

Chandler will be seen next in Netflix’s Slumberland which premieres this Friday, November 18th. Chandler has been seen mostly on television recently with supporting roles in Paramount+’s Mayor of Kingstown and Showtime’s Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Uma Thurman.

Glenn Close has been nominated for 8 Oscars, including most recently in 2021 for Netflix’s Hillbilly Elegy. She also recently appeared in Season 2 of AppleTV+ original, Tehran and the AppleTV+ original movie, Swan Song with Mahershala Ali. She’ll next appear in the horror film, The Deliverance directed by Lee Daniels acting alongside Caleb McLaughlin and Aunjanue Ellis.

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Netflix Set to Create Live-Action Film, Animated Series based on Popular Video Game Franchise, ‘Gears of War’

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Gears of War is a video game franchise that has always been meant for an adaptation for a series of films. Dave Bautista, is a star that has campaigned for years to play the central character of Marcus Fenix through all the different development deals across multiple studios but now, he may have a better chance than ever.

According to an exclusive from The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix is set to create a live-action feature film and an adult-oriented animated series based in the world of Gears of War. The original video game was released on Xbox consoles over 15 years ago and chronicles a war between a squad of COG soldiers led by sergeant Marcus Fenix fighting for their lives against a group of monstrous creatures known as the Locust Army.

The video game franchise is rich with original mythology and adds to the play that Netflix is embarking on to develop well-known IP for their powerful streaming service. Bautista would make sense to play Fenix, the main character as his stature and attitude resembles that of the pro wrestler-turned actor. Also, with Bautista’s lead role in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead for Netflix, he already has an established relationship with the streamer. Gears of War also has a passionate fanbase that has been clamoring to see these characters brought to life in the film/TV medium with many stories already in place to adapt to the big and small screen.

Cliff Bleszinski and Epic Games lead the charge in the development of the first Gears game before Microsoft acquired the rights to the game series in 2014. The Coalition, a Canadian game developer, took over for the last two releases of the series, Gears of War 4 and Gears 5 and will partner with Netflix for the planned film and animated series.

As of now, no producers, writers or directors are attached to developing these Gears of War projects, however, as THR reports, Scott Stuber, the head of original films at Netflix, was once attached as a producer when the video game was being developed in the mid-2010s so he is sure to be pleased with the acquisition for company.

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