Droughtlander is OVER!!! Diana Vacc sees Outlander S03 “The Battle Joined”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

Sunday September 10, 2017, Starz premiered season 3 of Outlander.   This episode follows Jamie hoping for survival during the Battle of Culloden as a pregnant Claire returns to life in the 1940’s.  As an avid fan of the series I was truly excited for its return and had high expectations after the previous two seasons.

THE GOOD:

  • The beginning of the episode is brilliant.  The writing, the directing, the acting certainly don’t disappoint.  It opens with bloody bodies lying on the ground of Culloden.  The focus comes to Jamie (Sam Heughan) whose eyes open slowly after being unconscious.  The episode fades to the beginning of the battle.  The transitions back and forth of Jamie lying on the ground with a dead Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) on top of him to his recollections of the battle makes you feel so much emotion that you can’t help but cry the entire time.
  • The fight between Jamie (Heughan) and Black Jack (Menzies) is deeply personal and the perfect way to end “the devil himself” – Black Jack.  After all that Black Jack put Jamie through, it is fitting that Jamie be the one to take his nemesis’ life and was truly satisfying to watch.
  • Heughan is by far the MVP of the episode as his heroic Jamie shines.
  • Claire (Caitriona Balfe) has to re-adjust to life back with Frank (played also by Tobias Menzies).   Their marriage is one of convenience for Claire and Balfe beautifully plays a woman trapped in a domestic prison, without the man she loves.
  • I love how Menzies brings us a character who is forced to make a normal life with Claire and raise another man’s child.  Can’t be easy for any man, but Menzies makes Frank touchingly human, especially when, unable to contain himself any longer, he has it with Claire, telling her how much it hurts when she pulls away from him, which is, actually, every time he touches her.  This scene makes your heart ache for Frank.

THE BAD:

  • If you find something badly done here, please write and tell me. Because what I see is that Outlander and its creator Ronald D. Moore, have arrived at the perfection Moore has been striving for.

THE REST:

  • All I have to say is if you haven’t watched this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Titanic” Throwback Thursday Review

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—
Although This Film is 20 Years Old So is There Really Anything to Spoil?

With the popularity of “Throwback Thursday” on social media and the current lack of quality in both film and television as of late, I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on some classic films. Titanic follows the story of star-crossed lovers Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) aboard the ill fated luxury liner.

THE GOOD

  • The chemistry of DiCaprio and Winslet is reminiscent of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind and Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.  These two actors have created an onscreen couple for the ages.  The audience can feel the love the characters have for one another.
  • Writer/Director/Editor James Cameron had his hand in everything. This is the true testament to a legendary director.  He even did the drawing of Rose (Winslet) featured in the film.  He brought a story to life that has moments of laughter and brings you to tears, especially the end.
  • Billy Zane’s portrayal of the villainous Cal Hockley was breathtaking.  There were moments when I hated him more than that boss I once had who – never mind. But there also were moments that filled me with empathy for the character.  An example is when he watched from afar Rose and Jack’s kiss when they were reunited.  In this small moment you I definitely felt his pain as he realized he had lost his fiance.
  • The costumes, the sets, the scenery, every little detail was carefully considered by the filmmakers and crew and led to an overall feeling of reality.

THE BAD:

  • Total spoiler alert just in case: I still wish that Jack didn’t die at the end of this film and instead he and Rose livee happily ever after.  But then, I’m a sucker for happy endings.


THE REST:

  • Since there isn’t much at the theaters these days I highly recommend you watch or re-watch this classic film, which can be found just about everywhere, online and off. I confidently predict you’ll be very glad you did.

Diana Vacc sees ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

On May 26, 2017, Disney released the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This volume of the franchise follows Jack Sparrow as he searches for the trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact with the power to break all curses of the sea. 

THE GOOD:

  • Writer Jeff Nathanson brings back the magic that made the original so successful.  The humor, the chemistry, and the story.  I loved the return of the romance of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly).  I enjoyed finally learning the back story of Jack and how he became Captain.
  • The newest love story of Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) is reminiscent of Will and Elizabeth and you know what? I was cool with it. The chemistry of both actors was breathtaking, and who would want to get in the way of that powerful an attraction to each other?
  • The motivation of Will son’s Henry to break the Curse of the Dutchman over his father tugs at the audience’s heartstrings. Thwaites performs with sure determination, as if Bloom is his actual father.
  • The performance of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar was creepy and gross but in a good way.  The black goo that comes out of his mouth is disgusting but it works for the character.

THE BAD:

  • Not enough Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.  I wish they were in the film more. I have loved these characters and their romance since the first film of the series.


THE REST:

  • I realize that I’m in disagreement with a majority of critics, but this film is pure fun. It brings back the magic that the last Pirates lost.  I definitely recommend you go see it.

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees ABC’s Dirty Dancing

by Diana Vaccarelli

Let’s play Spot the Embarrassment…hint, it’s the source of the pic on the right

May 24, 2017 will go down in history for sure – as a day of genuine showbiz infamy. On that date, ABC released a remake of the 1987 classic film of female coming of age Dirty Dancing, with catastrophic results for all involved.

THE GOOD:

  • I’m going to be blunt and real, there was nothing good about this film. Not one single thing. If there had, I might have been able to write about it without having to wait a week for my stomach to settle.

THE BAD:

  • Everything. No aspect of filmmaking was left undefiled. The writing, direction, acting, even the re-done music all were, well I’m sorry but they really did leave me gagging.

THE REST:

  • There are some films that should not be touched. Dirty Dancing was one of them.  This film should have never happened.

  • Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Prison Break” Season 5 Episode 2 “Kaniel Outis”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT–

On April 11, 2017, Prison Break: Episode 2 Kaniel Outis aired.  In this episode Michael contacts Lincoln through a young boy who delivers a note that tells Lincoln to find the “Sheik of Light,” who will help Michael escape from Ogygia Prison. Meanwhile, Sarah develops her own investigation into Michael and has an uneasy reunion with Paul Kellerman, who now works for the State Department.

THE GOOD:

  • Writer/Creator Paul T. Scheuring brings us an episode with intense action scenes. One of my favorites is when Lincoln is searching for the Sheik and is involved in a fight to help innocent children escape an abandoned building – and the whole thing turns into a car crash! Watching this scene, I was on the edge of my seat with my fingers crossed the whole time. Another great action scene that made me feel the pain occurs when Michael schemes his way into the prison infirmary to gain pain killers and is beaten by the guards. 
  • Again we are treated to exceptional performances. Each actor brings new levels and surprise to the characters.  Dominic Purcell, who plays Lincoln Burrows, demonstrates his love and desperation while trying to convince Sheba, a local woman, to help him find the Sheik of Light. Wentworth Miller shocks us with the complexity he brings to Michael. The warm embrace between Michael and the terrorist leader when the terrorist comes out of solitary confinement shows us how much Michael has changed. And Sarah Wayne Callies, who portrays Sarah, clearly demonstrates the character’s inner conflict, especially when she meets with Paul Kellerman.       
  • I continue to admire how this show begins to answer questions and then develops more questions. It keeps you guessing and wanting more. 

THE BAD:

  • The only disapproval I have with this episode is how Michael Scofield is now friends with the Isil organization. What have you done, MICHAEL!? I feel a personal sense of betrayal but will stick it out at least until I learn…”WHY?”{ 

THE REST:

  • Being a diehard Prison Break fan I continue to be excited for each new episode.  I urge you to give this show a chance and am confident that if you do you’ll become a fellow fan with ME!!!

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and one of the finest people we know. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc sees “Prison Break” Season 5 Premier

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT –

April 4, 2017 was the day Prison Break returned to our screens after a seven year “hiatus.” 

Fox television has brought back the infamous brothers Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows. If you weren’t a fan, or if you were but life has gotten in the way of your memory, I’ll try to catch you up, or at least remind you of where we left off. As in:

When last we saw Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows, they had broken out of prison and gone on the run, just in time for Michael to die from a terminal illness, the tragedy ending with a touching scene where Lincoln and Michael’s wife and son mourned at his grave.

Now, however, with the show becoming as popular as ever thanks to Netflix, the show has returned with fan faves Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell reprising the leads. How does a dead man return to life? In TV there are two usual ways – supernatural intervention ala a little show called, aptly enough, Supernatural and new info giving the mourners the wonderful formerly missing fact that whaddaya know, Michael is alive after all and being held in Yemeni prison.

Which means – oh, how did you guess? Now it’s up to Lincoln to break him out – again.

THE GOOD:

  • Writer/Creator Paul T. Scheuring brings us an episode full of intrigue that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved the scene in which Lincoln literally digs through Michael’s grave and discovers that only Michael’s jacket and pants remain. The body is gone.

    In another well written scene we find Michael in the prison and Yemen, only to hear him state that he doesn’t know Lincoln and is not Michael Scofield. As he walks away, the look on his face tells us he is lying, trying to protect his brother, although we don’t yet why and what or whom from.

    My favorite scene by far in this episode, though, is when Michael’s son asks his mother Sara what his father was like. The dialogue here is extraordinary and sensitive as Sara talks about her late husband as though he was the hero of a fairy tale.

  • The performances of all the actors are brilliant. Each one seems to genuinely become each character, giving us the souls of everybody we meet.

    Dominic Purcell brings makes the moment when Lincoln falls to the ground in tears, begging Michael to tell him what is really going on truly heartbreaking. And Wentworth Miller shocks us with his perfect – and in its way horrifying  response, demonstrating that he has become a far different – and much colder – man than the Michael we loved all those years ago.

  • By going international in scope, the writing exceeds my expectations. I love how Prison Break is now focusing on contemporary world events, especially with respect to the war against terrorism.

THE BAD:

  • The premier episode left many questions. Lots of blanks to be filled. After having been let down by so many recent series that never delivered the answers to questions raised in opening episodes, I’m concerned that viewers may never get the satisfaction we need…and that I believe all viewers deserve. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for lots of new information in the nine episodes of the show that remain.

THE REST:

  • As things stand after the opening, this revival may well be the best TV series opener in years. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, and if the writers deliver this new version of Prison Break could well become not just must-see but iconic television viewing. I hope you try out the show and join me as a fan.

Diana Vacc sees ‘Fifty Shades Darker’

Not sure about this pic. Maybe it’s Ms. Vacc holding on the gun this film?

by Diana Vaccarelli

No spoilers here because it’s already spoiled!

On February 10, 2017  Universal Pictures released the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, the not-so-cleverly-titled Fifty Shades Darker.  This film follows the continued relationship of Anna Steele and Christian Grey and their constant struggles to be completely honest with one another and how sex drives their relationship.      

THE GOOD:

  • After the battles behind the scenes of Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor Johnson and screenwriter Kelly Marcel were not asked to return for the sequel.  Instead the writing went to novelist and writer of the Fifty Shades trilogy E.L James’ husband Niall Leonard.  Leonard has written several television series and films such as Horatio Hornblower.  I mention this because this change from the first film to the sequel was a great success.  Leonard has shown that the characters have a relationship outside of intimacy. Better yet if you’re into this sort of thing, he also gives us some very real-seeming B &D. 
  • Director James Foley of House of Cards and Billions, brings the book more to life then Taylor Johnson did.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much Fifty Shades Darker film followed the book. Looks like sometimes it pays to leave control of a property in the hands of the creator.
  • The music continues in this franchise to be excellent.  It shows Christian Grey’s inner darkness and how his emotions change when he is around Anna.

THE BAD:

  • The main issue I continue to have with this series of films is the casting of Anna Steele. Dakota Johnson is, in a word,  drippy and doesn’t give the character one single ounce of personality.  On top of that, she speaks in the kind of monotone that would make anybody want to tie her up, preferably in another room…or city…or country.
  • It’s based on one of the most justifiably reviled novels of this century, which means that no matter how well made this film may be it still may make your skin crawl.

THE REST:

  • If you’re a fan of the books you will definitely appreciate the changes from the first film to the sequel.  If you’re a fan of films that have great music this film might make you smile…but a copy of the soundtrack would be a better choice. For my part, I give Fifty Shades Darker an overall two stars out of five, but my friends have always said that I’m generous to a fault.

    Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and one of the best people we know. Find out more about her HERE