Series Review: Luther – Season 3 (2013)

Beware the Ides of Elba, because they’re here… again… but not for the final time. Anyhow, let’s once again delve into this show.

Ladies, gents, and non-binaries… “Luther” season 3!

DCI Luther (Idris Elba) is once again back to solve a series of dark and violent murders, all while some other officers are trying to dig up enough dirt on him to take him down. I loved the storytelling here in season 3, it’s arguably the strongest in the show so far. Starting with the overarching element, it actually broadens its scope a bit, not just focusing on John himself, but also goes wider to explore how other people, in particular his colleague Justin (Warren Brown), sees him, and what effect Luther’s actions have on people. And I found those elements of the story utterly compelling. And as far as the procedural elements go, those are amazing as well. Much like with season 2, not only are there only four episodes, but it’s also only two cases getting two episodes each, and it really helps them flourish and feel way more tense and nuanced. They also delve into even darker, more unsettling waters than before, even going full-blown horror at a point. And it helps make for some really intense and kinda scary storytelling that I absolutely loved.

In terms of characters, season 3 of “Luther” succeeds greatly in further developing ones from previous seasons, and then also giving us some compelling new ones too. Luther remains a really engaging lead, with Elba still giving us some truly powerhouse acting. And then there’s Justin, Luther’s colleague, who is given a lot more space and opportunities to shine here, developing him further into a truly interesting character, with Warren Brown giving a great performance in the role. The rest of the supporting cast is great too, featuring people like Michael Smiley, Dermot Crowley, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sienna Guillory, David O’Hara, Kevin Fuller, Lucian Msamati, and more. It’s a very well-rounded cast playing some really interesting characters.

Paul Englishby returned to once again do the music, and once again its great. Low, brooding hums, dramatic brass, some emotional piano, some eerie strings… it’s just a brilliant escalation of the kind of sound Englishby made for the first two seasons, and it really adds so much to the episodes. The few licensed songs used throughout also work really well.

“Luther” season 3 was written by series creator Neil Cross, with direction split between Sam Miller and Farren Blackburn. And the craft here is on another level. It feels more grandiose, while still managing to remain intimate with the characters, and even claustrophobic and incredibly tense at times. The directing, editing, and cinematography just feels way more cinematic than in previous outings, which makes it stand out and feel even stronger.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes the season has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic the season has a score of 76/100. And on imdb.com the show has a score of 8.5/10 and is ranked #249 on the “Top 20 TV” list.

Season 3 of “Luther” is my favorite one so far, giving us an intense, scary, and thematically rich experience that I enjoyed from start to end. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and great directing/editing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score fro “Luther” season 3 is a 9.92/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Luther” season 3 is now completed.

I am having such a good time going through this show.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 3 (2018)

For the past two years, I’ve covered one season of this show for the Month of Spooks. And today we reach the third and final season. It’s been an interesting journey. So let’s travel to this frozen town one last time.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 3.

With the remaining survivors in the town of Fortitude still reeling from the traumatic events of season 2, one would think things would calm down a bit. But it doesn’t take long for new people to show up, stirring up new horrors, all while the local Sheriff (Richard Dormer) seems to be going a bit mad. The story has a lot of potential for greatness here. But it sadly doesn’t reach that potential. As a matter of fact, it’s nowhere even close to succeeding. What was one a slowly burning, off-kilter, and creepy narrative that engaged for most of the runtime, season 3 is bafflingly insane. It’s four episodes of eyebrow raising, gasping, and exclaiming “What in the actual fuck just happened!?”. It’s one insane and nonsensical event after the other, and I find myself constantly baffled at what is going on before my eyes. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The characters in this are a mixed bag. On one hand, I know who they are because I watched the other seasons. But on the other, their arcs this season are so bizarre and poorly written that I just can’t find myself that engaged with it. The only one I can kind of care about is Dan Anderssen, Fortitude’s currently mad Sheriff, and that’s mainly because Richard Dormer gives us a wonderfully hammy performance. The rest of the cast give it their all, even if they don’t get to be quite as… delightfully expressive. But the returning actors like Dennis Quaid, Luke Treadaway, Darren Boyd, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen, and more, all do the best they can with the material. And the newcomers are… fine, they don’t get much to chew on here.

As with previous seasons, the score for season 3 was composed by Ben Frost, and it was a strange downstep. Sometimes it was close to the dramatic and emotionally resonant stuff we’ve heard before… but then there are songs that use a smooth lounge trumpet… and I don’t know what they’re trying to convey, but it just feels really fucking off.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” was written by series creator Simon Donald, with Kieron Hawkes handling direction on all episodes. And as you may have expected from the previous sections, this stuff is a bit of a mixed bag. The writing is insane and nonsensical, whereas the direction tries to fix everything… keyword being “tries”. You can tell that Hawkes does his best in trying to make all the madness work. Not even Gary Shaw’s great cinematography can help make it work.

This show/season has had some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% critics rating, but a 52% rating from audiences. On Metacritic it exists with no rating at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.4/10.

Season 3 of “Fortitude” is an absolute trainwreck, and not even Richard Dormer’s delightfully hammy performance can save the season. The story is a strange mess, the characters have no compelling arcs, the performances are fine, the music is meh, and the directing/cinematography is alright. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 3 of “Fortitude” is a 3.22/10. So I’d recommend skipping it.

My review of “Fortitude” season 3 is now completed.

Were they on drugs? It feels like they were on drugs.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 2 (2017)

And so we’re here, the final post for the Month of Spooks. And it’s a follow-up to a post I did last year, where I talked about the first season of this show. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Fortitude” season 2.

Set some time after the events of season 1, we return to the remote Scandinavian town of Fortitude. And once again, strange things start happening after a body is discovered. So now we have our Arctic antics. And I like the plot here, probably more than the first season. It’s a slow burn mystery-thriller that dips its toe into some macabre themes and scenarios, while still taking the time to make me care about most of the characters, really adding layers to it all that maybe weren’t as strong the first time around. Though while it is an overall stronger story for me with a bit more intrigue and experimentation, it does still have some flaws. While I do love a slow burn, there are some moments here where the pacing outright drags, which of course makes it a little more of a pain to watch. And the ending is a bit… flaccid. Yes, I know there’s a third season, but I feel like the ending here is a bit too sequel-baity, for lack of a better word. But despite these flaws, I still found the story here to be pretty damn solid.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and overall quite engaging. Most of the cast from season 1, including Richard Dormer, Sienna Guillory, Luke Treadaway, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, , Mia Jexen, Sofie Gråbøl, Alexandra Moen, and more, with their characters getting extra depth, will all those actors firing on all cylinders. Now, for newcomer we have Dennis Quaid (pictured at the top), who plays Michael Lennox, a fisherman who gets involved in the strange shit going on in and around Fortitude. The character is given decent depth, as we learn some interesting stuff about his home life, at the same time as he evolves from the events in the story. And Quaid is pretty good in the role. ’tis a solid cast.

Ben Frost, who did the score for season, returned to do the music this time around too, and I think he really outdid himself. His score here is fucking spectacular, managing to perfectly capture every emotion possible, while still being an overall fitting score for the frozen shithole that is Fortitude. Yes, there are moments where the score lowers itself to some generic horror stings. But when it’s not doing that, it is absolutely fantastic. And the occasional licensed tracks used throughout work pretty well too.

The show was created by Simon Donald, who along with a bunch of other people, wrote the episodes this season, with some other cool people directing. And the craft behind this season is fucking emaculate. The direction manages to create an interesting sense of unease throughout that really makes it a bit more unsettling. And my god, the cinematography this season is absolutely amazing. And I don’t just mean the shots of the frozen vistas around Fortitude, but even a lot of shots indoors look great too. And the effects here are great too, featuring some really impressive practical gore effects, which kinda got under my skin.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. On Metacritic it exists without a score. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

Season 2 of “Fortitude” takes what was good about the first season and takes it up to 11, though it is brought down by some pacing issues and a less than satisfying ending. It has a really good plot, good characters, fantastic performances, fantastic music, and fantastic directing/cinematography/effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 2 of “Fortitude” is an 8,96/10. So while flawed, it’s definitely still worth a watch.

My review of “Fortitude” season 2 is now completed.

So this is it, huh? Well, it’s been a blast doing Month of Spooks.

Series Review: Fortitude – Season 1 (2015)

I am aware that I’m kind of stretching it a bit here in terms of the Month of Spooks, but there are aspects of this show that kind of work for it. Also, I kind of cheated with “Mindhunter” last year, so I think I’m allowed this one this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you to… “Fortitude”.

On the edge of the arctic circle lies the town of Fortitude, a frozen place with a small population. A town that has been safe for as long as it’s existed. But the peace of Fortitude is disturbed when a violent crime occurs. So now we have our cold as hell thriller. And it’s good. It has an eerie feel to it that makes it stand out from other crime-thrillers out there, and the mysteries it sets up throughout the season are quite intriguing. I was sometimes taken out of the show a bit though. While it is fairly grounded most of the time, there are occasions when it suddenly requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. Now, aside from some of those moments, this is an engaging, chilling (HA!), and overall intriguing story.

The characters in this are layered, flawed, interesting, and mostly all feel pretty realistic. I will however not go in-depth about them because the cast here is so big that we’d be here all god damn day, and none of us want that. But I can say that the cast is pretty impressive. Including people like Richard Dormer, Nicholas Pinnock, Alexandra Moen, Luke Treadaway, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sofia Gråbøl, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Darren Boyd, Mia Jexen, Christopher Eccleston, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the season was composed by Ben Frost, and I think he did a really good job with it. His music has a way of capturing the feel of this frozen and remote location. It’s eerie, it’s suspense-building, it’s emotional, it just works incredibly well for the show. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout, and they work pretty well in their respective scenes too.

“Fortitude” was created by Simon Donald, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people, and I think what they created here is really interesting. For one, it’s a pretty unique location for a show. A remote town in one of the coldest parts of the world, perfect setting for this kind of show. And thanks to the directing and some frankly gorgeous cinematography, they really capture the feel of the location perfectly. They also build a lot of suspense with it, and even capture some imagery that is kind of horror-esque in how graphic and disturbing it is.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

While not perfect, “Fortitude” still serves up a nice, cold mystery. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. Though as previously mentioned, the score if brought down a bit by the show expecting you to really bend your suspension of disbelief. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Fortitude” season 1 is an 8,91/10. So while flawed, I’d say that it’s definitely still worth watching.

My review of “Fortitude” season 1 is now completed.

It still kind of works as horror.