Afterlife Season 1: A Ricky Gervais Masterclass A Huge Win For Netflix

Just six 20-30 minute episodes AfterLife is without a doubt a massive win for Netflix on account of a Ricky Gervais masterstroke. Written and produced by Gervais the first season of AfterLife adds to the list of quality Netflix feature series and to some could easily be one of the best to come out of the streaming giant.

Following the story of ‘Tony’, a widower whom has been affected so immensely by grief that it has led him to lose faith in all people, all emotions and really life itself. In a both hilarious but also significantly profound way Tony does and says what he wants whenever he wants because in his mind he could always ‘fall back on suicide’. The concept itself is super super dark and the plotline and characters stand up to the subject matter.

After Life | Ricky Gervais 'in talks' for Christmas special - Radio Times

In essence Gervais is taking you on a journey and exploration into grief with some pretty funny moments thrown in there too, and that’s really the novelty of AfterLife which is able to take a really original type of angle to the concepts of loss, grief and existentialism through a plotline and character ark that will keep eyes glued to screens.

The first season of this show almost feels like one big film and is more of a just under three-hour experience. Gervais is absolutely top notch and given the fact that he both wrote and produced the series you can just see the creative freedom that he had here paying off tenfold. For that you really just have to credit Netflix whom now get to reap the rewards of them actually keeping for the most part out of the production process (which is pretty rare).

As Tony finds himself completely exposed to anything and everything due to his mentality he finds solace in the strangest of places and equally so the strangest of people, but soon enough it’s those very people whom will get him to question whether he truly is now ‘invincible’ but rather ignorant to his true self.

The simplicity of the settings and the small community that takes shape within the life of Tony and within the AfterLife storyline only adds to it’s quality, there’s nothing flashy or any flexing of productive resource muscles nor should there be for something like this and Gervais has put creative integrity, quality writing and even better acting above all else in the production of AfterLife which no doubt is littered with his own essence as a creator.

With AfterLife Intrigue quickly turns to investment and investment rapidly devolves into binge watching episode after episode until you reach the end. We’ve seen the loved one with cancer before, we’ve seen the loss of someone close before and we’ve seen characters in self conflict over and over again yet AfterLife still is impressively able to produce an immensely original type of experience.

There is a lot that Netflix can take from the success of AfterLife, and the first season is Absolutely worth a watch and with the second season out that’s next on the agenda.

8.5/10

Disney Plus Could Overtake Netflix, Here’s Why…

Disney Plus has absolutely exploded onto the scene and is currently pulling in unprecedented numbers and audiences that services such as Netflix surely must be feeling nervous about.

In November of 2019 Disney Plus amassed 10 Million Subscribers.

It is February of 2021 and Disney Plus has easily pushed past 90 Million Subscribers.

Take that in…

That is around 14 Months ahead of projections and there looks to be absolutely no signs of letting up with millions of new paying subscribers flooding in month after month.

In a little over one year Disney Plus has amassed an unbelievably large audience of over 90 million people, which is nothing short of mind blowing considering the fact that it was in the very same November of 2019 when the service was actually launched.

Lets compare that to Netflix. Founded in 1997 Netflix took SIX YEARS to gain it’s 1 million subscriber milestone in 2003.

Though it is important to understand that Netflix underwent a lot of changes in it’s first few years and was obviously arising in a very different climate.

However that isn’t to understate these numbers from Disney Plus. To push towards half of Netflix’s total subscribers (Around 200 million) in just over a single year is bound to concern the streaming giant.

Now Disney Plus is obviously aiming towards quite a targeted market by making the franchises under Disney’s control exclusive to that service, however with such an explosion into the market it would not be surprising in the slightest to see Disney Plus branching out to license other films from completely separate studios. Which could prove to be a huge threat to the success of Netflix.

And with projections for Disney Plus to reach around 230-240 million paid subscribers by 2023-24 how could you not be speculative as to where that will leave services like Netflix.

But How and Why has Disney Plus exploded in the way it has?

There are plenty of obvious reasons to pin to the massive and immediate success of Disney Plus, in built audience, plenty of funding, competitive pricing the list goes on. But what really seems to have pushed Disney Plus to new heights as a platform is it’s decision to have content that is completely exclusive to its service.

You quite literally are unable to stream those shows, movies and documentaries anywhere other than Disney Plus, and that is where Netflix just can’t compete.

You’ll be able to find heaps of movies on Netflix scattered across the streaming industry from Hulu to Amazon Prime Video to HBO Max to Stan you’ll be able to stream plenty of Netflix’s catalogue across other services.

This doesn’t apply to Disney Plus, you cannot find what is on Disney Plus on any other streaming service and you therefore have no other option other than to subscribe to their service if you wish to stream that content.

And what really packs the killer punch is the fact that Disney has control of some of the biggest franchises on the planet.

-Star Wars

-Marvel

-Pixar

-National Geographic

These are monumentally huge franchises with billions of dollars worth of production value boasting millions of unbelievably dedicated and global fans, all exclusively available to one service and one service only. Disney Plus.

It’s genius.

Netflix has tried to push their own smaller version of this concept with Netflix originals with mixed results, but there is just no way for them to compete competitively with Disney Plus as far as exclusive content goes because that is the very crux of Disney’s platform.

Netflix has variety but Disney has exclusivity. In essence that is where things currently stand and are the central reasons behind each platform’s success.

So hypothetically if Disney Plus was able to grow such a large subscriber base and proceed to branch out by licensing big titles outside of it’s direct umbrella, Netflix may well see detrimental downturns in returning subscribers. Meaning unless they make some serious decisions on how exactly they can add the same amount of incentive we’re currently seeing from Disney Plus.

Disney Plus is the fastest growing streaming service on the planet, and easily the fastest service to put up 90 million subscribers.

Does this mean to say that Netflix is going to crash, crumble, die and fall out of existence, absolutely not. But just you can’t help but be interested to see what Disney Plus does into the coming years with it’s platform and given the numbers the service is putting up (Which are only growing faster and higher) Netflix executives have to be looking at each other with considerable concern.

‘Death To 2020’… An Underwhelming attempt to comedically recap the events of a year like no other

Without doubt 2020 was one of the most polarizing years in recent history and arguably human history entirely. From the globally devastating Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement charged by tragic death of George Floyd, 2020 was easily one of the most (If not the most) memorable years in the lives of all whom experienced it. Which is exactly why Netflix’s new Mockumentary/Comedy ‘Death to 2020’ struggles to impress.

When I stumbled across ‘Death to 2020’ in my daily endless scroll through Netflix’s catalogue I thought for all counts that it was going to be a poorly written attempt to recount the year using a few big names and less than original lines that may muster a laugh or two along the way. Unfortunately for the most part I was right…

From the outset ‘Death to 2020’ is not necessarily a bad idea conceptually, in fact I’d go as far as saying it had a substantial amount of potential to be quality, and backed by a few big names in the cast there was certainly an opportunity for that quality to be found. Based obviously around the events of 2020 real life footage and images are commented on by a group of “comedically” named individuals whom are being interviewed about the year and its events from their perspective. Most notably is Samuel L. Jackson who plays Dash Bracket and opens the piece as a journalist for a publication called the New Yorkerly News.

However the unfortunate but easily noticed problem that this piece found itself with was where it stood on the scale of comedy to seriousness, and whilst it is understandable given some of the subject matter, it stumbled to go wholeheartedly in either direction more than likely out of fear of a poor public reaction. For a piece falling under ‘Mockumentary’ it really did struggle to bring out more than the occasional chuckle throughout its course and given the fact that I was more interested to literally look back through the year’s footage in a chronological order than the actual comedic purpose of the piece instead is somewhat concerning. As a viewer, if you are able to remember most of the big events of the year (Which most should) then there is little reason for you to watch ‘Death to 2020’ as it fails to stand as really much more of a high production recap.

The cast isn’t necessarily bad either, I’d say they were quite good given what they had to work with. However that doesn’t mean that ‘Death to 2020’ is anywhere near the quality it could have been with better writing decisions. For a piece which in it’s title proposes to be a complete look back at all the horrible events 2020 it was fairly dismissive of many crucial events, in many cases giving little more than a quick reference and heavily focused on the political climate in the United States. Especially regarding the Presidential Election between Biden and Trump which whilst of course being a huge part of the year, was arguably covered more than the global Covid-19 pandemic which seemed strange.

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The almost centralized focus on US politics hindered the piece’s ability to do other events justice and whilst having some comedic value just felt unnecessary after about 20 minutes of overused Trump jokes. Whilst throughout ‘Death to 2020’ there is a fairly well put together timeline of events its hard not to say that for what it is attempting to do, the piece feels flat and rarely succeeds in adding any sort of creativity to a recap of events that few really need a reminder to remember.

Perhaps it is an inability to completely commit to a quality comedic centrality or a misusage of a well brought together cast, but whilst not a completely unwatchable failure ‘Death to 2020’ certainly feels like something that could have been put together with far more creativity and appeal if done correctly. Other than a few good skits from Lisa Kudrow and the occasional laugh there is little to say about ‘Death to 2020’ other than an underwhelming release of a concept that held such high potential.

5/10

‘If anything happens I love you’ is heartbreaking simplistic genius at its very finest.

Short films for many (Myself included) are very hit or miss, whilst some produce special things they rarely are able to rival the quality of a full length film with a massive production team and astoundingly high budget. However after watching the outpour of reaction all over social media I just had to give Netflix’s ‘If anything happens I love you’ a shot. It blew my expectations well and truly out of the water.

Being such a humble and simple cartoon piece from the outset this twelve minute short proves to make the finest possible usage of simplistic visuals and absolutely no dialogue in order to propel it’s gut wrenching experience even higher than imaginable upon beginning.

Following the tragic loss of their daughter the film follows the grieving process of two parents left with nothing but a text message and memories of a life cut short. Flashing between the past and the present this haunting journey begins with the two parents sitting alone at opposite ends of the dinner table and ends with the gut wrenching text message they receive in the wake of an unforeseen tragedy, ‘If anything happens I love you’.

The extraordinary journey undertaken in this film absolutely surpasses expectation and Gary Gilbert along with Gerald Chamales have been able to make a seemingly humble twelve minute short film feel like a lifetime. For any whom have lost a loved one, whatever the circumstances, this film depicts the journey through grief, loss and the life found after in one of the most immensely profound ways possible as these two parents must find a way to continue their journey without their missing piece.

The cartoonish look of this film is absolutely perfect and works unbelievably well to no doubt pull emotion from even the most cynical of viewers. The added value of a beautiful soundtrack cannot be ignored either, as ‘If anything happens I love you’ travels along the music becomes increasingly powerful in the build up to a heartbreaking climax.

From a completely stylistic approach ‘If anything happens I love you’ succeeds on all absolutely all fronts and in my opinion does not set a single step in the wrong direction, its beautiful animation and illustration choice demonstrates that a big budget or hyper-complex plotline does not inherently mean a top quality experience. In many ways this type of stylistic decision making is relatively unseen and therefore why it is quite simply jaw-dropping to see it done so well in the face of such a tough subject matter.

This animated short feels more like a prayer than a film and throughout it’s course chooses to show rather than tell, opting to build wonderfully towards its central ideal and purpose rather than lay all out to see from the onset. This film will spark conversation (Both internal and external) in all whom watch it and rises to the occasion of its powerful storyline and subject with perfectly crafted animation and illustration techniques. It is extremely rare that I find myself so blown away by a short film and I doubt there will be another like it for a very very long time. A piece that struggles to take a wrong step and now sits easily in the must watch category of its genre.

10/10