Time for Team MFV to kick off this year’s big superhero films with the ground-breaking, widely acclaimed Black Panther from Marvel!

But first, a brief chat about the TV they’ve seen lately, both old (Nick’s back on Battlestar Galactica) and new (Alastair’s seen Derry Girls).

Then the boys dive into the world of Wakanda with Marvel’s Black Panther (10:14), looking at the new angles it opens up, where it succeeds and fails and anything else they can think of.

Then, since it’s the first superfilm of the new year, seems a good time to ask: what should superhero movies be in 2018? (28:38) Clue: the answer is not “whiter, straighter and maler”.

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

Dystopian science fiction stories have always been popular, but they seem to be in demand now more than ever. George Orwell’s 1984 became a bestseller, again, following an explosion of interest in post-truth after the election of Donald Trump. From Black Mirror to Blade Runner 2049, we can’t get enough of dystopian sci-fi, so why are we so obsessed with how the future can go wrong?

Dystopian sci-fi conjures up societies that are undesirable or frightening. Corrupted visions of our own future. However, they usually say more about the time they were written in than what the future will be like.

Orwell was worried about Stalinism and how it was poised to spread across Europe after WW2, sweeping away the democratic socialist movement that Orwell was a champion of. Any accurate predictions made about listening devices and CCTV are an unhappy byproduct of this.

Does the sudden demand for Orwell’s novel indicate that we’re worried about the rise of an authoritarian state? The popularity of last year’s TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale indicates that there is concern about how an oppressive dystopian society would treat those it sought most to control. Are we all bracing ourselves for the horror to come?

Popular culture is full of examples of authoritarian future states that bear a striking resemblance to 1984. There’s Terry Gillingham’s Brazil, in which correcting a bureaucratic error in the mechanisms of the state’s tyranny leads to Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) becoming a victim of the authoritarian state. There’s The Hunger Games where the elites in the Capitol force the oppressed to sacrifice their children for their amusement. A feature of these dystopias is that ordinary citizens are constant witness to (and likely victims of) horrific acts of violence.

Our fears don’t just take the form of authoritarian states abusing their citizens. There are plenty of sci-fi dystopias where all of society has collapsed. These are grim visions of a future were humans eke out a miserable existence. The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, is an example of this. As are The Book of Eli, Twelve Monkeys, Francesca Haig’s novel The Fire Sermon and Ram V & Dev Pramanik’s new comic Paradiso.

With sea levels rising, the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere getting to alarming levels and frequent outbursts of bellicose rhetoric from Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, it’s no wonder that people are more worried about the complete end of human civilization than ever.

Of course, society doesn’t have to completely collapse for a dystopia to be filled with humans eking out a perilous and depressing existence, nor does there have to be an authoritarian state. There are plenty of sci-fi futures where we are ground down by mercilessly oppressive private companies.

Ridley Scott’s rain-soaked, bleak vision of … er … next year comes to mind. The original Blade Runner is a society built on slavery, ruled by corporations, where the law is enforced with unflinching brutality. Warren Ellis’s comic Transmetropolitan is another example.

All of these dystopian futures are grim, but they remain consistently popular because there is something comforting about them. There is comfort in a future, however grim, when the terrible things that happen are for a reason. If bad things happen to you, because you live in a dystopian society, that is more comforting than bad things happening to people at random and for no reason, as they tend to do in our world.

These depressing visions of tomorrow do offer some guarantee of safety and stability for the people who embrace them. Dystopias like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World seem quite appealing if you can just conform to their very rigid view of a hierarchical society and accept that nothing will ever change.

Being a battery inside The Matrix would be nice, unless someone yanked you out and made you eat gruel while a mad revolutionary ranted at you about destiny. Would you mind not having emotions if you lived in Equilibrium? Minding is an emotion, and you wouldn’t have that if you lived there so I guess you wouldn’t mind.

The most comforting part of dystopian science fiction is that it is just that, fiction. Dystopias remain popular because they allow us to explore our worst fears about the present and how they will play out in the future. Not only are they warnings about what is going wrong, but they offer us hope that humans will survive even the worst oppression that the future can throw at us.

Give all these reasons, I can see why we love creating and reading dystopian stories. I can imagine they will be popular until we stop worrying about the present or the future. This poses a new question: which dystopian future is the scariest? Nick and I discuss that question in the podcast below:


This fortnight, it’s time for Nick and Alastair to journey way down into the dark heart of the scifi dystopia, with Image’s new comic series Paradiso, written by Ram V and drawn by Dev Pramanik.

But first, as ever, some brief cuts – both hosts have seen Oscar-tipped black comedy-drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Nick’s also started reading Roman history hit SPQR by Mary Beard as part of his whole non-fiction thing.

Then, finally, time to look at the first two issues of Paradiso (7:01) and talk about how it both leans into and rises above various tropes for a hellish fictional future.

Lastly, this week’s related question risks going even grimmer than our Ragnarok episode, as we ask: Which scifi dystopia would you least like to live in? (19:30)

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

For their first proper episode of the new year, Nick and Alastair finally grapple with their long-time Aaron Sorkin fandom, courtesy of his new movie Molly’s Game!

But first, in recent media chat, Nick’s been catching up on strong BBC crime show Line of Duty and Alastair’s read cult sci-fi comic Omega Men by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda.

After that, it’s the review of Molly’s Game (7:57), as our heroes try to balance talking about the film with, inevitably, comparisons to previous Sorkin films and TV shows.

Then the related question this week is: How do you follow up a career-defining work? (24:42), which starts off mostly about Sorkin and The West Wing, then ends up flirting with weightier questions about whether the public wants artists to just vanish after their one big project. Heavy, man.

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

2017 is all over, and just like they did last year, Nick and Alastair are putting the beast to rest with a review podcast covering their favourite releases in TV and film.

But first, as ever, they’ve consumed some media and will briefly talk about it – specifically, BBC sadcom Fleabag and drone movie Eye In The Sky.

Then onto the meat of the show – first up, Alastair introduces our general chat about movies (5:06), then both take turns introducing their respective top fives from the year (10:14), before whittling it town to a unified MFV Top Three.

And then, yes, it’s the same treatment for television – first chat (29:32), then chart (35:38).

And if that’s not enough 2017 Summary, you can also find Alastair’s lookback at the year in film and Nick’s Top Ten TV Shows right on this very website.

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

Hello and welcome to Nick’s Top Ten TV Shows of 2017, a blog post about television programmes and the order Nicholas Bryan lists them in!

This is the sixth time I’ve done this, which makes it one of the longest-running ‘traditions’ in my entire life. Pretty sure this series of blog posts has now out-lasted most houses I’ve lived in. It’s nice to really create something you can build on, you know?

Anyway, if you want to marvel at the previous lists, you can find them all here on a range of websites:

Now, let’s get on with it. Although – top end of this is pretty similar to my Top Five TV Shows to be unveiled in our upcoming MFV #53 2017 review podcast, so just FYI, the below is… technically a podcast-spoiler? If that bothers you?

As ever, subjectivity is king and objective truth is dead, we can all live in our own cultural silos thanks to the on-demand revolution, so this is what I like and if you disagree, that’s fine.

In fact, personal taste is probably coming in with pretty much our first entry. Continue reading

I finished my summary of film in 2016 by saying that I was not “hugely hopeful for an explosion of quality in 2017” and in many ways I was wrong. Like last year, 2017 was a year that I visited the cinema a lot and more often than not I enjoyed myself.

The year began with the usual run of films vying for Oscars and I was pleased to see that there was a lot of diversity in this year’s nominations following last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Films such as Hidden Figures, Loving, Fences and Moonlight received Oscar nominations and had prominent roles for actors of colour. This was a welcome change from the usual parade of white people being nominated in the top Oscar categories.

La La Land walked away with several Oscar wins, as well as cementing Emma Stone’s position as one of the most talented people in Hollywood and Damien Chazelle’s reputation as an excellent director. Silence was a disappointing offering from Martin Scorsese, one of my favourite directors. Sadly, not even a collaboration with talented actors such as Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson could make the film engaging.

The big success story this year, and every year, was Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. It has become increasingly clear that only they can create and maintain a successful cinematic universe, as this year saw the launch and quick abortion of The Dark Universe with Tom Cruise’s The Mummy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 had the first’s combination of humour and breathtaking action scenes, but combined it with a moment of genuinely transcendent emotion at the end. Later in the year, Spider-Man: Homecoming showed that a teenaged reboot of the Spider-Man series could be funny and have one of Marvel’s best villains in the form of Michael Keaton’s Vulture, while Thor: Ragnarok took the action and humour to new heights thanks mainly to a great pairing of Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo.

Marvel’s formula for superhero movies continues to be very successful, this is evidenced by the fact that they put out three very strong movies this year. My only criticism of them is that they are sticking quite closer to a crowd pleasing, Joss Whedon-esque action plus jokes format. Undoubtedly the best Marvel adaptation of the year was Logan (distributed by 20th Century Fox not Disney), which forwent the usual Marvel format to focus intensely on the character of Wolverine/Logan later in his life to tell a really moving story. The core of this film was a career defining performance for Hugh Jackman. This was my favourite film of the year.

DC’s attempts to create a shared universe continued this year, first with Wonder Woman, which was good, and then Justice League, which was not. Wonder Woman shows that DC can make a good action film when they want to. It wasn’t struggling with the need to advertise eight other films in the DC shared universe, but instead focused on telling the story of one character very well and had a strong performance from Gal Gadot. Its success shows that DC can make good solo superhero films and raises my hopes for Aquaman next year.

Justice League was mainly empty spectacle, had a plot that was confused as best, contained a subpar Batman (who looked really out of place in what was essentially a fantasy film) and then resurrected Superman in this year’s least surprising twist. DC need to get the basics right (like plot and character) and make some more decent solo superhero movies before than they can embark on ambitious shared universe projects. The best DC adaptation this year was The Lego Batman Movie.

Other franchises performed well this year. Star Wars: The Last Jedi brought the epic action scenes that we associate with Star Wars and had some amazing directing from Rian Johnson. The long awaited Blade Runner sequel arrived and it confounded expectations to be a visual and audio masterpiece. Power Rangers started their own franchise with a film that was aggressively okay. Truly it was the midpoint of the year. All the good films were better than it and all the bad films were worse than it.

Sadly, a few franchise let us down this year. Dwayne Johnson, usually a reliable source of entertainment, failed to impress in Baywatch: The Movie, which managed to plunge below the lowest common dominator down to somewhere so low that it’s not really worth talking about. Fast 8 lacked the usual charm of the long established car chase franchise, while Alien: Covenant wasn’t as dull as Prometheus, but still fell way short of the bar set by the classic films of that franchise.

There were a lot of good British films this year. Armando Iannucci’s the Death of Stalin was darkly comic and historically accurate while Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire was stylish, funny and bloody. Prevenge, directed by Ben Wheatley collaborator Alice Lowe, managed to be bloody and darkly comic. I had low exactions for T2: Trainspotting, but was pleasantly surprised by the fact the sequel told a strong story and gave us more of some iconic characters.

The biggest surprise hit of the year was Jordan Peele’s Get Out, a horror/thriller that took a hard look at racial tensions in America. Its success, despite a low budget, was driven by word of mouth and it was one of the most interesting films that I saw this year. Another unusual hit was Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, about one woman’s search for revenge after being raped. In Verhoeven’s usual style, this film was dark, incredibly brutal and difficult to watch, but was also very affecting.

A few other high-quality films that deserve a mention were Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s war movie that brought the thriller back into the genre, and Stephen King adaptation It, which was creepy and emotional. There was not one, but two, stylish heist movies this year. Logan Lucky, starring Daniel Craig, Adam Driver and Channing Tatum, was hugely fun and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was masterfully directed and boasted the best soundtrack of the year.

Overall 2017 has been of higher quality than 2016. Maybe this is because I didn’t see some of the films that had very poor reception, such as The Emoji Movie, but none of the “must see geek blockbusters” that I watched were atrocious and many were very entertaining. This year wasn’t particularly original, with sequels and franchises dominating, but that has been the case for the last few years and looks likely to continue for the near future. If 2018’s films are as entertaining as hits from this year, such as Wonder Woman or Thor: Ragnarok, or as interesting as Dunkirk or Baby Driver, then 2018 should be a good year too.

Looking ahead to next year, the high profile films are Solo: A Star Wars Story, which could be good based on the quality of the current crop of Star Wars films, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which I am more dubious about. There are sequels to Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible, 50 Shades of Grey, Fantastic Beasts, the Maze Runner, Pacific Rim and Mary Poppins, as well as a new Avengers film. There are also remakes of Predator and Tomb Raider, along with adaptations of Ready Player One as well as the Black Panther and Aquaman comics.

A truly original year next year seems unlike, but as long as most of these films are entertaining then I will be happy. See you in the cinema.

A big fortnight, as not only is it Christmas, but there’s a new Star Wars film out! Fortunately, the new Moderate Fantasy Violence format has two sections for just such occasions.

Before the main features, though, we talk about our recent consumptions – Moon Dust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith and new movie The Disaster Artist. Both hosts have seen the latter, so that breaks out into a bit of a mini-review.

Then, at last, Nick and Alastair review Star Wars: The Last Jedi (8:16), the eighth episode in the decades-spanning saga and perhaps the most controversial one since the franchise returns in its current Disney incarnation. Where do they stand on all the big issues? (And beware, it’ll take full spoilers to get to the bottom of this.)

And then it’s Christmas party time, as our festive heroes ask: what makes a great Christmas film? (30:28) And will it still seem quite so jolly once Team MFV have analysed it to death? Only one way to find out.

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

This week, Nick and Alastair face their sins after watching all thirteen episodes of Netflix’s guntastic new adaptation of Marvel’s The Punisher!

But first, they share some recent less hardcore consumption – Alastair’s been watching comparatively lightweight BBC comedy The Detectorists, while Nick’s decided to finally check out Mr Robot.

And then, at last, they get stuck into the punishment (7:56) with a long chat about all the surprising deep themes in this show about a gunwielding vigilante revenge man.

Lastly – two main characters in Punisher are living off the grid, so for the related issue this episode, seemed a good time to ask: is it ever acceptable to fake your own death? (33:51)

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!

This is it! The fiftieth episode of Moderate Fantasy Violence, and to celebrate reaching this half-centennial megaversary, Nick and Alastair assembled in person and arranged a Q&A with you, the listening public, via our social medias.

But before they can indulge themselves, they need to get through the episode’s scheduled business: a quick talk about some classic culture consumed (namely The Wire and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and reviewing DC superhero team-up film event thingy Justice League (8:27).

That done, at the time of 25:29, our heroes get down to your queries. If you want to zero in even more specifically on a topic, here are all the seven questions answered, with timestamps.

  • How can Warner Bros fix the DCEU taking into account getting rid of Affleck and Snyder is a given? – Simon Doig (25:29)
  • Is FlArrow (i.e. Flash, Arrow et al) still worth it? Are new series like The Gifted making it irrelevant? – Kirsty (33:12)
  • What is your favourite superhero film/TV adaptation of all time? – Julianne Benford (39:12)
  • What not-yet-adapted-for-screen property would you like to see adapted? – Julianne Benford again (43:23)
  • What was your favourite discovery from the recommendation item on your show? And did any of them cause you to investigate further? – Clive (49:24)
  • Can anyone pull off yellow braces? (i.e. What do you think of the new Doctor Who costume?) – Ed (52:55)
  • What will the state of the cinematic universes be by MFV #5000? – Oli (56:31)

Phew. And that really is it. Thanks for listening, everyone. See you again for MFV #100, obviously.

Download the podcast directly in mp3 here!

Listen on YouTube over a static image here!

Subscribe on iTunes! Reviews welcome!

Listen on Stitcher! Reviews also welcome!

Subscribe in multiple Android podcast apps here!