In a contemporary USA, when a young person shows signs of magical ability, they’re whisked off to a military academy where they are trained as frontline troops for the Witchcraft Army. The first season of Motherland: Fort Salem is set in a female-dominated society (really!), due to the persecution of witches having ended three hundred years previously, on the back of the Salem witch trials when an agreement known as the Salem Accord was ratified by human and witch kind. (In addition, the world finds itself at odds with a terrorist organization known as the Spree, a group against the military conscription of witches.)
This brave YA series shows how the institution of society both entraps and sacrifices young people as much as it gives them any sort of guidance and discipline. Indeed, the fresh-faced head witch is over three hundred years old only because new conscripts magically sacrifice their youth to her!
At the same time, the series empowers females – allowing them more sexual licence than males and complete ownership of their own bodies. The series is never voyeuristic, however: it is body positive and the female cast comes in all shapes and sizes, all equally celebrated (give or take).
The series isn’t perfect, of course, as some of the plotting and continuity is a touch ropey. But the actors involved manage to carry things off, and the characterisation and world-building are compelling. I enjoyed a lot! So I’m gonna score it a slightly generous 8 out of 10 (cos it has chops and I’m up for series 2).
Oo, and if you like narratives about witches, check out The Book of Witches too!
Well, it looks like the convention circuit for science fiction, fantasy and horror has been gearing back up. I’ve now updated the universal list for you to check out: https://metaphysicalfantasy.wordpress.com/events/uk-conventions-and-festivals-scifi-fantasy-and-horror/
So, this weekend’s tipple is The Woodsman. It’s to celebrate our last weekend in Manchester! Hurrah! It’s a nicely rounded blend with an oaky aspect. ‘We use a mix of freshly built oak casks and double-scorched bourbon barrels, making The Woodsman especially smooth and sweet, with a hint of smoke.’ Also, it’s only £18 in Sainsbury right now. www.woodsmanwhisky.com
No wonder Bird Box has been one of the most viewed movies in the world during lockdown! This scif-fi/horror film sees humankind struggling to survive when sight of the ‘monster’ outside causes insanity and a suicide pandemic. You can only get about with your eyes covered, and you must never open the front door when someone or something knocks! Don’t let it in! It’ll infect you! A pregnant Sandra Bullock(!) works with a groups of desperate strangers (including John Malkovich), and she gets to raise two young children in ‘the new normal’. But her group dies one by one, until she has to go outside with her kids to try and get them to some sort of safety. They have to deal with all manner of hazard and marauder!
Honestly, it’s a great great movie that plays with your mind. It’s utterly relatable. And the ending is a triumph. I flaming loved it. 9.5 out of 10. My missis doesn’t tend to like horror, but even she enjoyed it.
Six undying soldiers-of-fortune fight in one conflict after another, always trying to be on the side of right, so as to make the world a better place. After thousands of years of dying and resurrecting, it seems that all their effort has been for naught. Sucks, right? Pretty much. Their leader (Charlize Theron) wonders if they should call it a day. Worse, an ex-CIA operative has begun to track them down on behalf of an obsessed geneticist who wants to cage them and ‘harvest’ their DNA/immortality (not for the good of humanity, obviously, but to make plenty of money instead). The Old Guard are now on the run from dozens of baddies. The days of fighting for what’s right are ending.
The Old Guard is a good movie. Yes, there are the sorts of grisly battle scenes you might expect, but the plot is definitely not throw-away. There are strong contemplative character-development scenes. There’s philosophical rumination. It is not a mono-tempo movie by any means. It has dimensions. There are complex and moving relationships. There’s even a very poetic speech about the nature of love. Not what you might expect from your regular Netflix action movie? Well, that’ll be because the movie’s based on the Image comic book series, so there’s plenty of content. Well played, Netflix! It scores an admiring 8 out of 10 from me.
Started watching the new metaphysical fantasy series on Netflix: Warrior Nun. I want to hate it, but I can’t… cos the plotting is pretty tight (based on a Canadian combic book, init), the tempo is high, it understands its genre ‘beats’, there are moral dilemmas and problems to solve, and there’s just enough character development for us to care. Plus: it’s got some freshly original ideas in it. Oh and it’s easy on the eye! That’s a pretty good set of ingredients, all told.
Basically, there’s a Catholic order of female templar knights whose job it is to retrieve holy artefacts so that they don’t fall into the hands of demons and unleash hell. But the lead knight dies in an ambush and her power (her ‘halo’) has to be hidden, in a desperate moment, in the body of an incidental dead girl. Unexpectedly, the halo resurrects the girl and she goes out to enjoy her newfound life… with the forces of both good and evil out to claim her as their own. Neat, eh? It works philosophically and politically.
Watch the first episode and think ‘hmm, alright’. Watch the second and think ‘heh, this is getting quite good’. It scores a respectable 8 out of 10 from me.
So, I’ve written a chapter in the newly published collection from Luna Press: Love in Fantasy and Science Fiction. It’s a cool piece about the ‘bromance’, Kirk and Spock, Frodo and Sam, Han Solo and Luke, etc. Check it out maybe!
Let me tell you a story. I was in Sainsbury’s and I’d seen the above whiskey (spelt with an ‘e’) for a number of weeks. I was intrigued, cos the Pogues famously know/knew their whiskey. But the distillery wasn’t evident on the bottle, and so I thought £26 was just a bit too much of a risk. Every week I saw it on the shelf – and it didn’t seem to be selling. THEN! Sainsbury’s reduced it to £18. For 70cl of single malt. ‘I’m in!’ says I. Tried it last night. Veeery good. Will have to get some more. It’s peaty (of course) and a touch sweeter than Scottish whisky (without an ‘e’), but it has complexity (far less wishy-washy than a Speyside, for example) and a pleasing burn. Scores a very good value for money 8 out of 10 from me.