Comic Book Review – Uncanny Avengers Volumes 1 & 2

Uncanny Avengers Volume 1: The Red Shadow (2014)
Uncanny Avengers Volume 2: The Apocalypse Twins (2014)
Written by Rick Remender (with Gerry Duggan)
Art by John Cassaday, Olivier Coipel, Daniel Acuna, and Adam Kubert

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In the devastating wake of Cyclops’ insurrection, the public perception of mutantkind has plummeted. To remedy this a joint group bringing together the Avengers and the X-Men has been formed. This Unity Squad is composed of Captain America, Wolverine, Rogue, Thor, Scarlet Witch, and led by Havok. They are thrown right into the fire when The Red Skull rears his head, having spliced the newly deceased Charles Xavier’s brain tissue with his own. Possessing the mental abilities of Xavier, Red Skull can force the population to descend into violence and brutality to further his supremacist agenda. However, the Skull is only one danger, with something even worse looming on the horizon. The Skull’s actions ripple into the future bringing the arrival of the Apocalypse Twins and the potential end of Earth.

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Movie Review – Whiplash

Whiplash (2014)
Written & Directed by Damien Chazelle

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Andrew Neiman has one goal in his life, to become one of the great jazz drummers. He’s a first year at the Shaffer Music Conservatory playing in one of many campus bands. He’s chosen by Terence Fletcher to join the prestigious Studio Band. Neiman quickly finds that Fletcher demands near unrealistic levels of perfection from his performers. There are verbal assaults which eventually lead to physical ones. Neiman starts sleeping in a practice room where he sets up his drum kit and pushes himself to go faster, have more control until his hands bleed. However, the tension keeps building, and Fletcher attempts to manipulate and twist events around Neiman that it is driving the young to the brink of a mental breakdown.

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Movie Review – Heaven Knows What

Heaven Knows What (2014)
Written by Arielle Holmes, Josh Safdie & Ronald Bronstein
Directed by Benny & Josh Safdie

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Harley has sunk deep into the heroin junkie community of New York City. Almost worse than her drug addiction is her obsession with the sadistic Ilya, a fellow homeless user that continually antagonizes and abuses Harley. In the opening scene of the film, her emotional overload leads Harley to slit her wrists in the middle of a park. After a few days in a psychiatric hospital, she wanders through life clinging to different destructive men who fail to help her escape this addiction. The rest of the film is a descent into the nightmare world of heroin addiction, a hazy exodus of repetition and remaining in stasis.

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TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 6

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 6 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Sam Donovan

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The ending is finally here. The story, at least in the U.K. version, doesn’t continue from this point, so we have to examine what we are left with. In many ways, this episode is less the ending of the story than the aftermath of episode five. The core story of Carvel, his children, and Milner is over now and as this last chapter opens they are in a state of shock, the clock still counting down for the release of the Russian flu. In many ways this finale is focused around the idea of what happens with an extreme ideology is carried out to its inevitable ends.

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TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 5

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 5 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Sam Donovan

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We cannot experience the trauma of others, and in turn, they cannot suffer our trauma. Words are never sufficient enough to convey the profound psychological and emotional wounds an especially traumatizing experience can cause. This, in turn, leads to a breakdown in communication, which can begin as minor and eventually escalate into violent conflict. While Utopia is about a vast global conspiracy on its surface, the series is actually exploring ideas associated with multi-generational trauma. In the first episode of this season, Milner makes mention that she has witnessed genocide firsthand. Eventually, we learn Philip Carvel is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. The horrific things seen and experienced by these people is what led to the founding of the Network and the development of the Janus virus. But there’s is not the only trauma present in Utopia, and their ignoring of other generation’s traumas has led to the dramatic conflict of the series.

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TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 4

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 4 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly & John Donnelly
Directed by Sam Donovan

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Maybe it has always been there, and it’s merely me become awakened to its presence, but I have noticed a growing digging in of heels in political ideologies. Religious ideologues have always seemed to be a constant nuisance, and history has its fair share of political zealots who are willing to compromise moral integrity for “the cause.” These days I often see YouTube videos displaying members of the traditional Left/Right spectrum being downright criminal in their behavior and exhibiting a sense of glee in their transgressions against their fellow man. As a child, I felt a distance from the fundamentalist Christian upbringing I had, I never really bought the pitch that was being sold to me, so I’ve always felt a sense of disconnect from anyone who is radically attached to an idea. Utopia is a show about following that path of radical ideology and how detrimental it can be no matter “rational” or “reasonable” you believe your set of values are.

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TV Review – Utopia Series 2, Episode 3

I hope you are enjoying the content I publish on my blog. If you feel compelled and are financially able to, I would greatly appreciate anything you could contribute to my Patreon. I will take it as your way of saying thanks and put that money towards growing the site in a slight manner.

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Utopia Series 2, Episode 3 (2014)
Written by Dennis Kelly
Directed by Marc Munden

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There is a universal human tendency to value the lives of your loved ones over the lives of others, particularly strangers. You’ll commonly hear new parents express that they have a sudden sense that they would die for their newborn children. People will make drastic moves to protect their loved ones even in the face of death. But we don’t see often is what a person will do when it comes to harming another in the name of saving their loved one. Would you be willing to kill to protect the people you love? Not kill someone who intends harm, but someone whose continued life might put your family in jeopardy. This is an innocent, for all intents and purposes, who isn’t an immediate threat, but could become one. Would you kill them?

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