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Sherlock – Ranking The Episodes

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Sherlock is quite a popular show, you’ve probably heard of it.

For a show with such a massive cultural impact, it is interesting to think that there has only been 13 episodes of Sherlock, and unlikely to be any more if the showrunners are to be believed. For the record, I don’t believe them. The two main stars may be busy being big Hollywood stars, Benedict Cumberbatch in particular will be busy with Marvel films for the next decade or so, but they surely have time to fit in a Christmas special every now and again?

With the fourth season coming to a close last week, I wanted to revisit the show and go back through the episodes and pick a favourite. Doing this with most TV shows might be a touch redundant but Sherlock plays out less like a TV show and more like a series of TV movies.

Two quick points before we begin;

  1. These are my opinions and please feel free to disagree with them.
  2. Beware, many, many spoilers ahead. So if you aren’t up to date, don’t read any further!

Very well, the game is afoot!

13.

“The Sign of Three” (3×02)

SH 8

Starting odd with a controversial entry, as I know many fans are quite partial to this episode. I am not. Not one bit. The episode focuses on John Watson’s marriage to Mary Morstan, and much of it is played as comedy and farce, it feels like a spoof of the main show, the plot points involving dead soldiers is forced and plagued with convoluted coincidence. Sherlock’s best man speech manages to amuse but otherwise I’d happily see this episode struck from the record.

12.

“The Hounds of Baskerville” (2×02)

SH 5

Easily the most famous Sherlock Holes tale. And this modern spin on it has promise, a nice guest turn by Russell Tovey, but the story doesn’t work and barely makes sense. Worse of all, the reveal halfway through the episode that there is in fact no hound at all, is later completely ruined by the horrible CGI abomination that appears at the close.

11.

“The Abominable Bride” (Special)

SH10

A lot of pressure on this before it aired. This was an episode that was necessary to fill a 3 year gap between seasons 3 and 4, and early leaked pictures showed us the story was set during the classic Holmes era of Victorian England. A great set-up to be sure but an episode that excels in the worst types of nonsense (mind palaces) the show has become associated with. The only positive note here is that “The Abominable Bride” is genuinely creepy at times and drips with atmosphere and menace from the opening.

10.

“The Six Thatchers” (4×01)

SH11

We hadn’t a full episode of Sherlock since 2014 and there was a big build up of hype leading up to the return, this probably didn’t help the episode. But overall, the plot was a disappointment, entirely hinging on a USB thumb drive and ending with a DVD message from beyond the grave. Mary meets her maker in “The Six Thatchers” and her death was largely met with a collective shrug from much of the fanbase. It felt awkward and a deliberate attempt to tug at the audience’s heartstrings. One of the least Arthur Conan Doyle like stories the show has ever done.

9.

“The Blind Banker” (1×02)

SH 2

There’s one incredibly simple problem with this episode. It isn’t that it’s bad, more that in every way imaginable it manages to be completely forgettable. Nothing memorable or particularly interesting happens. 90 minutes of… Something.

8.

“His Last Vow” (3×03)

SH 9

So much build up in this episode and then it pulls the rug out from under the audience, and characters, by bringing a truly stupid plot twist (there’s no gigantic vault of information, it is all Magnussen’s own mind palace), wasting a gruesome and intelligent villain and generally missing the mark. It’s a shame really as the finale is quite exciting and Sherlock’s violent solution to the problem remains dramatic. Good concepts and acting don’t feel served by the story, leaving it adrift, forcing an ending that doesn’t really work. A surprise appearance at the very end by Moriarty brings up possibilities for the future, and once more stoked the fanbase into frenzy. Not the worst episode but fails to break into the better half of this list.

7.

“The Empty Hearse” (3×01)

SH 7

So. Just how did Sherlock survive his fall from the hospital roof? Everyone had a theory. Somehow he swapped identities with Moriarty and through the latter’s corpse off the roof in a mask? Plausible, I thought. Basically, any whacky idea felt like it might be the answer. Months of speculation were over, and the answer was finally ours. Except it wasn’t. We are presented with several possible ways in which Sherlock could have survived, most of which are ludicrously amusing. We get no definitive answer, and while that is frustrating, very, very frustrating, it was a clever move by the writers. We get an exciting and tense resolution to the case with a bomb and tube train. At the heart of this episode, what makes it work, is the relationship between Sherlock and Watson, their friendship takes a serious battering, testing the pair to their limits. And let’s not forget John Watson and his dreadful moustache.

6.

“The Final Problem” (4×03)

SH13

Another divisive entry as it would seem a lot of people absolutely hated this episode. It does differ substantially from the format and features the single worst special effect, the destruction of 221b Baker Street and our heroes subsequent escape, but when the dust literally settles and we reach the meat of the episode, it becomes something different. A claustrophobic nightmare as the sad tale of Eurus Holmes is explained and her terrible revenge is revealed. This is an episode that wears its heart on its sleeve, from Sherlock forcing Molly to say “I love you” in devastating fashion, to Mycroft willing to sacrifice his own life. This episode is less about a case or mystery, and more about these characters as people, who they are, where they came from, and ultimately, about family. “The Final Problem” might very well be the last episode of Sherlock and it ends on a positive note.

5.

“A Study in Pink” (1×01)

SH 1

Our first foray into the world of this new incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Ballsy and confident from the get go, the pilot episode managed to convince just about everyone that a modern take on this character could really work and no longer needed to be consigned to the 1800s. Great character introductions and one of the best mysteries lays the groundwork for everything that is to come. Most pilot episodes are decent but lacking, not coming fully formed, but Sherlock was confidently constructed from the beginning, and it shows.

4.

“The Lying Detective” (4×02)

SH12

Is this episode ranked so highly because it manages the most unexpected plot twist in the show’s relatively short history? Partly. The reveal that three characters we have been introduced to in the first 2 episodes of season 4 are in fact the same person is brilliant enough, then compounding that by explaining that this woman in none other than sister to Mycroft and Sherlock was a real left field out of nowhere ending. It gives us a slimy and repulsively unpleasant villain in Culverton Smith, gamely played by Toby Jones. Also, this episode follows Mary’s death and could have ended up being sad and mopey, instead it is a lot of fun and really builds the characters. The standout here though, is Mrs Hudson and her Aston Martin.

3.

A Scandal in Belgravia (2×01)

SH 4

I consider no.2 and no.3 on this list to be almost entirely interchangeable. They’re both excellent but in different ways. Belgravia has the slight advantage of introducing Irene Adler to the series, and what a delight she is, a character who doesn’t really ever reappear onscreen but leaves a lasting impact on the audience and Sherlock himself. Fast paced, exciting and more than a little raunchy, this episode might be the most fun of the entire run, featuring some the cleverest visuals for solving the case.

2.

“The Great Game” (1×03)

SH 3

At the centre of this episode is Moriarty. Sherlock knows his nemesis exists and has been behind many of recent woes, and when he is co-opted by his brother to retrieve some sensitive military plans, Moriarty is revealed at last. Andrew Scott’s performance is unique and has become as iconic as Cumberbatch’s Holmes. Whenever Moriarty appears, he brings with him a level of danger and unpredictability the other villains seem to lack. He is possessed of a friendly and quite affable evil, exuding menace and charm simultaneously. Another reason this episode works so well is that the case is interesting and leads us on constant twists and turns. Sherlock doesn’t work if the cases aren’t gripping and intelligent.

1.

“The Reichenbach Fall” (2×03)

SH 6

Best cliffhanger in television history?

I have never seen fans react the way they did to this episode, myself included. It lead to a fantastic near two years of speculation. We saw Sherlock Holmes leap to his own death, after Moriarty had shot himself in the head. The tension oozes in this episode like no other, you can feel it building to something amazing and it doesn’t disappoint. The rooftop confrontation/conversation between Sherlock and Moriarty is quite possibly the greatest scene the show has ever produced, the music swells and we are desperately trying to think of how Sherlock, and his friends, are going to get out of this one. And the kicker is, apparently, he doesn’t. Of course, before the credits have begun, we see Sherlock alive and well, although everyone else believes him to be dead. I genuinely do not think the show can be better than “The Reichenbach Fall”, it remains a truly spectacular piece of entertainment.

 

And that’s it. My definitive (until I rewatch them again and change my mind) Do you agree or disagree? Or just a casual indifference?

 

Features

How Casinos Can Improve a Movie

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When it comes to movie themes, you got them all. From war movies to romance films, there is something for everybody. However, the gamble theme is not often present but some casino scenes really mattered. For example, the roulette ball in Casablanca that landed on 22 two times, all this was possible thanks to the rigged roulette. 

Another example is found in the movie 21. This movie is mainly made after a book called Bringing Down the House and just like the movie, it’s about a group of students “robbing” a casino playing Blackjack. Actually, the robbing process consists in one person taking a seat at a Blackjack table and that person just counts the cards. After a while, their friend joins knowing which cards were already played. As expected, they get caught and the action begins.  

Daniel Craig and Casino Royale 

If it’s not already obvious, these examples cannot go further without mentioning Daniel Craig starring as a MI6 agent in the movie Casino Royale. This movie was not like any other James Bond films. Firstly, the new actor had blond hair and blue eyes. This new look was not welcome at all especially for die hard 007 fans. Daniel Craig had nothing in common with the previous agents such as Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan. Moreover, back in 2005, right before the Casino Royale release, many fans were sure that Daniel will ruin the series. In fact, Casino Royale ended up being one of the best James Bond movies ever.  

After all, some changes were needed so the movie can have a fresh feeling. If we got used to every James Bond movie starting with the same scene, Casino Royale made it different. Until then, every single film started with a gun barrel sequence in which James walks in a white room, he turns, then fires and the blood drips down the screen. In the new 007 film, the movie starts with a black and white scene and at the end of this sequence, when we think that its first victim is dead, Daniel turns around then fires and we have the first gun barrel scene.  

As an illustration on the movie name, there are three poker scenes that make this film better. The first one has a well made old-fashion feel that is mainly made through the dissolve process. This technique was usually seen in the 80s and is a post-process film editing that makes the transition from one image to another.  

The second poker game is when Le Chiffre destroys James. Right after this game, there is a sequence that lets the agent sit alone on the table with nothing left, making the MI6 agent more natural. This is a high contrast with all the old cliché movies where James Bond was invincible. Further, Daniel gets poisoned by Le Chiffre but the secret agent survives by using the defibrillator from his car. Then he comes back and says ”I’m sorry, that last hand, killed me”.   

Like I said, casinos can be a good way to improve a movie. Also, land-based casinos suffered many changes over the years. Like most casinos that are now using online and mobile platforms. For about 400 years, casinos were just ”gamble houses”, but now they adopted new technologies. The most important change was of course, the online platforms which made it possible to enjoy casino games from the comfort of our house.  

For few years know, these virtual gamble houses started to show up everywhere. Moreover, there is a new online British casino called Admiral Casino and has a wide variety of fruit machines. In addition, their app is present on the App Store and you can now play slots like Sizzling Hot and Golden Sevens. Both games have 5 reels and are made by Novomatic. As has been noted, casinos made their contributions in many areas and now, thanks to the mobile technology they can be taken in your pocket. 

 

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Sequels Deliver at the Box Office

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Jurassic World was a gigantic hit in 2015, in fact, at a worldwide gross of $1,671,713,208 it remains the 5th highest grossing film of all time just behind Infinity War and The Force Awakens. That’s impressive for any franchise, let alone one long considered extinct. 

With its sequel, Fallen Kingdom, currently dominating the box office, it is worth looking at just how well sequels tend to do, the mixed fortunes they find themselves in, the biggest success stories and some considerably embarrassing failures. 

Fallen Kingdom hasn’t been a big hit with the critics (51% on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 71% for the first film) but this evolution of the series has still resonated with audiences, currently sitting at $932,387,335 and very likely to pass the hallowed billion dollar mark in the next week or so. A billion dollars is nothing to be sniffed at but there is still every chance the studio will consider it something of a failure that it was unable to eclipse its predecessor. 

A few other franchises worth examining; 

Fast and Furious 

A franchise that rose from the ashes of almost going straight to DVD, with the 7th installment staking its claim in the big leagues, ironically 7th highest of all time, but when Fate of the Furious came just two years later, it made close to $300 million less. Is that audiences simply getting sick of cars doing ridiculous things, or something else? Fast 7 was unfortunately bolstered by the death of star Paul Walker, giving it increased media attention. 

Star Wars 

As previously mentioned, The Force Awakens is one of the biggest box office hits of all time, and whether or not it will be unseated in third place by Infinity War is almost too close to call but it will be incredibly close. 

But it terms of diminishing returns, The Last Jedi made over $700 million less than The Force Awakens. Why is that? The answer for this one is pretty simple, The Force Awakens was such a huge, once in a generation event, that it wasn’t going to happen a second time. Not that The Last Jedi’s box office is low, it sits at 11th of all time. 

But Star Wars has a different problem, it is now a series that digresses from the main saga and moved into spin off territory. Rogue One was a big hit, being a member of the billion dollar club, but Solo, a film plagued with production troubles, has really struggled, pulling in a fairly weak $368,879,115. The blame for this lies in the release window, with Infinity War still making good change, and Deadpool the week before, Solo hit in the middle of one of the most crowded summers in recent memory, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom snapping quickly at its heels. 

What is considered a success or a failure in these terms anyway? It’s hard to know for sure. Sony’s second attempt at the Spider-Man franchise (Amazing Spider-Man if you find all these Spider-People confusing) was a decent hit, and the sequel only made $50 million less but was considered such a failure by Sony that they ended up handing the character back to Marvel. Which we can all agree was the right thing to do. But just $50 million was enough to make them wonder, not the other $650 million it made. Sequels are expected to make more money. 

Now, one last point. The highest grossing film of all time?  

Avatar. $2,787,965,087.  

That will probably never be beaten. Avatar 2 has a release date of December 18th 2020. Will it come anywhere close to the first film? This seems unlikely. Or maybe not, James Cameron should never be counted out, he might very well end up with the top 3 highest grossing films of all time. Or will Star Wars Episode 9, which goes into production this week, come back with a bang and topple Cameron’s big blue cat people? 

Only time, and a lot of money, will tell. 

 

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Cinema FOMO

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FOMO; the fear of missing out. Defined in 2015 by the Oxford English Dictionary as, ‘anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media’.

It’s true that in our online, digitally driven world, FOMO is thriving on a global scale, however that doesn’t mean it’s a new phenomenon. Throughout cinematic history, audiences have craved a shared experience, using quotes and characters as shorthand in their own conversations. No-one wants to be left out of the discussion.

Even in this technological age, the world’s leading film magazine Empire, remains an important and relevant source in the world of film journalism and with its much-loved features and interviews with Hollywood’s A-List, you can avoid serious FOMO by joining their subscription service today, meaning you’ll never miss a review or important update from the world of film.

When the teaser trailer for Black Panther landed, it was viewed 89 million times in just 24 hours. It was the most tweeted about movie in 2017 (before it was even released) and has gone on to become the most tweeted about film ever made. People wanted to be a part of the #BlackPanther and #Wakanda phenomenon and Twitter gave them the community they desired, adding in Q&A specials and a Black Panther custom emoji.

But what about before the dawn of Twitter? Back in the dark depths of 1999, a little film called The Blair Witch Project dropped. Using the internet, online forums went mad with leaked rumours about a film created from the found footage of three missing filmmakers. The accompanying website presented credible back stories and realistic style news interviews. Missing person leaflets were also distributed to enhance the story. (Spoiler alert; if you don’t already know, it was all entirely fictional). At the time however, this clever and original marketing fed directly in to our FOMO receptors.

But what if we take social media and the internet out of the equation. Do we travel back to a pre FOMO time? The truth? Absolutely not, so you can put the DeLorean away.

Back in 1961, Alfred Hitchcock released Psycho. Whilst his reputation was already established, this was a self financed film, so a lot was riding on its success. He made the decision not to screen for critics first, meaning audiences got to see the film at the same time, with no preconceptions. He refused cast interviews and to pump curiosity, issued an edict that nobody would be allowed in to cinemas after the picture began. Would you want to be the only one not to know what was happening inside the Bates Motel? Absolutely not. People flocked, queues stretching around the block to ensure they experienced this new cinematic milestone. Quite simply, FOMO struck again.

In truth, it’s an innate human desire to want to belong and regardless of marketing, it doesn’t get much better than sharing the joy of a cinematic experience with friends.

 

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