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Well, I'm trying to write a completely spoiler-free review here, but I
guess it's safe to announce that 'Penny Dreadful' looks positively
gorgeous. Great production design and cinematography: by the time we
get to see Victorian London as night descends upon the city and the fog
starts creeping through those narrow cobblestone alleys, nearly every
frame looks like a beautiful, Gothic painting (and not once did I spot
a fake looking CG-background). As far as the actors are concerned, they
portray their obscure, troubled characters with a certain kind of
"theatre" intensity that fits the story and the turn-of-the-century
setting very well.
Story-wise I don't want to give away anything but of course, there are unholy things lurking in the shadows that need to be fought (and they look rather convincing: the make-up effects are another strong point of this show). Like the iconic "Hammer Horror" films of old (usually starring either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing or both), 'Penny Dreadful' draws its setting, characters and general inspiration mainly from some famously dark tales written by Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde (and to a lesser extent from sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories). And just like the Hammer films - who may seem rather tame now but were shockingly violent for their time - this show is neither for purists of said literary works nor for the faint of heart.
While some scenes are genuinely scary in a tension building, "old school" kind of way, we also get blood soaked action sequences that will probably put off some viewers, but seem entirely appropriate given the show's title (in the 19th century a "penny dreadful" used to be a booklet of cheap, sensational fiction printed on pulp paper which could be purchased for - wait for it: a penny).
My overall verdict: 'Penny Dreadful' dishes out a hefty mix of gory violence, classic horror creatures, sex and action, but it never forgets to build atmosphere. The B-movie elements are undeniably there, but they're deliberate (the title says it all), and this is by no means a cheap affair. Beautifully crafted and with a great cast, I strongly recommend this show to anyone who likes the old "Hammer Horror" movies as well as films in the vein of Tim Burton's 'Sweeney Todd' and 'Sleepy Hollow'.
But not just for the fans of "Goth Horror" is this well worth checking out; I would say that after 'True Detective' and perhaps 'Fargo' this is one of the most promising new TV-shows of 2014.
Favorite Films: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054200841/
Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
Favorite Low-Budget and B-movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/
The first episode of Penny Dreadful does a number of things right,
making me hopeful for the future of this series.
1. The atmosphere is perfect: dense, Gothic, surreal and unsettling. The camera work is fluid and imaginative, and the grimy London settings are really well designed, almost expressionist at times. I was particularly impressed by the scenes in the gentlemen's club, shot from a high angle, and laid out in a curious Victorian grid-pattern.
2. The characters range from predictable but very welcome, to genuinely unique. Timothy Dalton is the former: a generic British adventurer, about equally suggestive of Alan Quatermain, as seen in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, real-life explorer extraordinaire. But the pink-haired Egyptologist is a character I've never quite seen before. His dialog is colorful, erudite and truly off-beat.
3. The dialog, now that we're on the subject, is literate and dense. This alone would make the show worth watching. There's a Victorian flamboyance about it, but also some real intellectual content. When's the last time you heard the word "outré" spoken by a character in a TV series?
4. The pace, the steady evolution of the plot, are a refreshing change. Too many shows are forced to rush ahead because they're not really about anything. Moment-to-moment activity is all they've got. Penny Dreadful feels like it's building up something more than that. (Time will tell.)
5. Finally, a very welcome omission: the shortage of jump-scares. There's really just one, and it's placed in such a way that it's almost a spoof of itself. Several other situations, which most shows would have exploited for a cheap shock, are handled with admirable subtlety. There is some gore, but no more than needed to establish a seriously scary tone, a sense of danger.
Penny Dreadful isn't exactly going where no entertainment has gone before. It's clearly 'inspired by' two previous efforts. Most obviously, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a comic that came off rather poorly on the big screen. But also the very under-rated film Van Helsing, which brilliantly re-imagined the classic horror movies of the 1930s, but failed to find an audience perhaps because of its highly energetic style.
Penny Dreadful seems to have learned from both of these sources. Where League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was lightweight and loose with logic, Penny Dreadful is atmospheric and well-plotted. Where Van Helsing was kinetic and flamboyant, Penny Dreadful is quietly creepy.
All in all, it's off to a great start. Let's hope the producers can continue 'in the same vein.'
UPDATE: Closing in on the end of the 2nd season, my admiration for this series continues to grow. The atmosphere of Victorian menace is denser than ever. The characters more flamboyant, the dialog more poetic. I'm not sure where the story is going, or, indeed, if it needs to be headed for any specific destination, when every moment of it is so enjoyable. Rating enthusiastically unchanged: a solid 9 out of 10.
Penny Dreadful is to horror what Game of Thrones is to fantasy and
Walking Dead is to the zombie apocalypse - its all about the characters
and story lines that are only possible when set in their unique
This show is amazing. Everything from the sets, to the acting and directing... Eva has turned in two Emmy nomination worthy performances already.
Even if you don't like horror - go check this show out. Such a unique twist on the classics. I can't tell you how excited I am about TV right now - people are finally starting to get it... there is a market for mature, gritty, raw, and complex characters set in worlds that were once considered nerdy and childish.
The pilot episode was a typical getting-to-know-you episode where it
introduces most of the characters and some intriguing aspects. At
first, I was like, "Oh gods above not another vampire show" - boy, was
I wrong. By the end of the second episode, I was totally hooked by Eva
Green's performance alone. Just stunning work by her in the séance
scene. Totally blew me away.
Don't judge a show by it's pilot. Otherwise there would be none at all.
This show is definitely not your average telling of famous stories (vampires, Dorian Gray) as it takes the most gruesome aspects of those tales and incorporates them in whatever manner suits the storyline; Penny Dreadful does not shy away from the taboo, something that has been plaguing certain stories such as Frankenstein and Dorian Gray. This show loves the grotesque and downright sinister nature of storytelling and can depend on its actors to do the job right.
I am highly intrigued by what's to come. It's gritty, filthy, and utterly captivating. I can't see love triangles or any soap opera clichés on the horizon and that makes me optimistic.
I had to add a review of this show after i saw the minority of reviews were so negative, i really can't believe that anyone would rate this series at 1/10 that is a disgrace in itself. the production values would rival most high budget movies and the acting is definitely 2 steps up from anything else horror orientated on TV( with the exception of billie piper who does an irish mish mash of accents while pulling the faces of a bulldog chewing a wasp)this however is a minor complaint, even josh hartnett pulls it out of the bag as far as the rest of the cast go. If you like your classic horror tales or goth horror then this is definitely worth checking out, i grew up watching the mummy,Dracula,the wolfman and frankenstein on late night TV and i have to say this series revisits those nights curled beneath the duvet with the class and atmosphere of the tales from which it draws it's inspiration. well worth a look guys, don't let the downers put you off!!
As the creators' fascination with 19th century horror literature comes
to life we are introduced with a result that is part gory part
calculated constraint but a pure visual pleasure. The show takes you to
a setting evoking a sense of alarm under all the intrigue.This feeling
is heightened by the score which is both evocative and hauntingly
Timothy Dalton plays Sir Malcom, an explorer, who needs to bring together this group of mysterious individuals each seemingly having a secret of their own to locate his missing daughter.
Both Dalton and Josh Hartnett are reasonably good but it's Harry Treadaway and Eva Green who steal the show with their performances. Where Green can be both cold and beautiful Treadaway does an equally good job as a young Dr. Victor Frankenstein especially in the "plant the flag on truth" scene.
With the show currently in its initial stages much remains to be seen as to how it unfolds with so many characters (monsters??!!) to be introduced into a single plot. But as of now one thing is for sure that this show seems more about thrill and gore than horror. If that excites you then this show might be for you!
This review is based on the pilot of the show. This show is great. It's designed for the viewers who like horror genre. It's kind of hard core and sophisticated version of Supernatural. It has elements of psychology, anatomy and history as well to draw the attention of specific viewers. Vanessa Ives character seems like supernatural female version of Sherlock Holmes. The setting of this show in the Victorian era makes it more likable. It has all the basic characters of horror themes shows like vampires etc. Super stars like Eva Green and Josh Hartnett presence as main characters also gives this show an edge over the other show of the horror genre. All the main cast is also versatile and their characters are well designed. It has a Gothic vibe going all over the series. There's no reason that this show is not gonna be a big hit. Some critics are already considering it for the best new TV series of 2014.
There are few moments in life when you get to drip and drool your eyes
and ears at the same time, while your heart fights your soul reaching
to understand and become a lover of evil. Rare are those moments. There
may be many that do not share my perspective, nor do they taste my
words and vision, but then again, I am sure that some are like me.
Hungry to feel, to truly feel life, and thirsty for ambivalence, for
the evil to have a good face and vice versa and more importantly to see
that even flawed ones have a faith to preach and fulfil.
The story captures you entirely, it tenses your moral beliefs and makes you see a side of you which, in some cases, has never emerged, or, if it did, it will be like candy for children. The characters are immortal, at least the main cast. The way they can evolve is a tribute to the writer, director, producer and more importantly to them, as they go beyond themselves as individuals and become even more than a true character, they become immortal. Eva Green...was made for this role, or maybe the other way around... The historical aspect brings front characters of tales and stories, of mythological and biblical implications fluctuating the narrative line between the world of the living and that of the dead...or undead.
If the style of the above description matches your taste, you will most surely be enchanted by this series. If it does not...well, don't let my poor reenactment of the style be an obstacle in watching this truly magnificent piece of art.
It's more than a TV series, it's music, it's image, it's story. It's poetry.
Well I'll try and not reveal much however Penny Dreadful is most certainly one of the best series on our screens at the moment. It is somewhat of a slow burner at times however it absolutely burns with a restrained ferocity very much like it's actors and characters. There's a palpable energy in every performance as there is a lot of meat to each character. Everyone is an anit-hero and personally I find all the performances very engaging. Timothy Dalton radiates a commanding and duplicitous presence that matches Eva Green's which is hard to do. Even more surprising is Josh Harnett and Harry Treadaway keeping toe to toe with them both also. Billy Piper's just warming up too. I'm a veteran Horror fan and rarely have I seen such quality in feature length movies. I just watched the last in the current series and it was emotional, the trick to the P Team is that the monsters are center stage and they are very human. Rory Kinnear induces both horror and extreme pathos that very much surprises. Logan has crafted something special, something very well thought out and acted and executed in every aspect with care. The script is the only one on screen at the moment that reminds me of The Game of Thrones in the fact that every line of dialogue is loaded with meaning, coupled with the Victorian setting means that everyone is hiding something and every word is crafted. Very unusual and highly recommended, nothing is as it seems in Penny Dreadful and the characters are all the more relatable for their failings and apparent monstrousity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you have watched a lot of TV and you have ever asked what it would
be like to mix Ripper Street with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and
Supernatural, putting the whole thing on an unrated cable station, then
you would possibly have had a show like this in mind. That nonsense
aside this is a really well produced, and seems to be quite deeply
thought out show that mixes all of the sense of League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen, the opening act gave me a sensation of an early days origin
story for R.I.P.D. some sort of Men in Black for the supernatural
types. I Enjoyed this show quite a bit, it really does stand out in
it's heavy levels of gore, and violence, and the acting Eva Green alone
is just completely Ice on fire, but the rest of the cast are just as
fantastic. I recommend this movie to fans of the science fiction
mash-ups, as that is exactly what this is, if you like action, and can
appreciate truly adult horror the corrupt, and dirty kind, then this is
for you. The entire production is cinema quality, if you understand how
many levels Banshee is above most TV, you will appreciate this show in
a very similar way.
Jesse of Jesse.ca
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