I felt compelled to write a review on Netflix’s latest original series
by the Wachowski’s for 2 reasons:
I was present throughout the whole filming process, in 8 cities, and
witnessed the genius, the magic and the hearts behind the project,
I can relate to the concept.
This review is not in any way biased; I have an ability to step
outside of myself and analyse something outside of my own preferences,
desires and expectations. And that is what I did when I watched Sense
8. However, in moments you may find more personal perspectives, given
that this is a blog, and not a movie website.
And I am not a movie critic. And I have never written a movie/TV show
review before; I’m just going to write freely. So here’s my best; just ride with me;
Sense 8 caused an initial stir simply for the fact that it was a
Wachowskis project, and their first TV one. The Wachoswkis excite with
their concepts and have such unique minds it’s hard to not care about
whatever they are working on, despite some of their “let downs”. I
watched Jupiter Ascending at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in San Francisco and
honestly? I was close to appalled, but not for lack of a great
concept. I was more disturbed by the fact that the two leads appeared
to be much more concerned with what they would be having for lunch
that day, than exploring their own characters. Their performances were
bland, uninteresting, disengaged. Was that the Wachowskis fault? Nah,
not fully. What they are guilty of, however, is intellectual,
important and “next level” concepts, which they then try to fit into
and explain in a short amount of time, and then assume that their
audiences are going to be smart enough, patient enough, open-minded
enough to care or understand.
And this is where the Wachowskis “fell short” again with Sense 8. (If
you can call a few complaints of the average TV watcher falling short.)
Yes, this time round they had the time to fully flesh out and explain
their concept, but I guess they forgot their audience. Or did they?
With baseball games having to be cut short because people just can’t
pay attention anymore, and with network shows getting worse and worse,
I am pretty sure that they were aware that successful TV shows these
days are positively awful; and so are their audiences. Lets face it,
most complaints thus far of Sense 8 has been that it has been “slow’
or “confusing”. Well of course it must seem that way, when people have
become accustomed to shallow storylines, cheesy cliff hangers, a shock a second; viewing
that requires little intelligence. If Sense 8 had been released and
been instantly understood and adored by everyone, I would have
panicked that it truly did fail, because the average TV viewer is NOT
smart. The Wachowskis knew that. Quite frankly I don’t think they
Listen, I am sure I am going to get some hate mail regarding my view,
and I am sure I could deliver it somewhat more cautiously, but I am
pretty short for time so I’d rather just cause offence and explain
I’ll tell a quick story before I do so, in my own words.
Van Gogh was mocked, undervalued, misunderstood, laughed at, pitied,
his whole career. He was told his work was senseless, (haha!) stupid,
worthless. He didn’t make a penny his whole life. He lived off his brother and had to pick certain days in which he would eat, as he couldn’t afford to do so daily. After his final
painting and his feeling as though he had completed all he had to here on earth, he killed himself. Years later, his work is seen as genius. It wasn’t understood at the time, but then if it had been, would it have been genius? How could it have been the future, how could it have shaped new visions for art today, if it had been whole-heartedly celebrated and understood during its time?
In order to grow, one must first not understand. Then one must seek
understanding. Then one learns something new. Only then, has one
grown. Sense 8 forces the viewer to grow and open their mind.
Some critics have labelled Sense 8 as being “hard work”. I disagree. What
it possibly is however is hell for those used to being spoon fed. But
then those used to being spoon fed, just simply aren’t the future. Sense 8 is about the
future. And this is why it excites me so much.
Ok, let me sum up the script in short. 8 people. 8 cities. All
connected. There was an opening scene from Daryl Hannah which tells us
she gave birth to these 8 people, except they don’t seem to know
anything about each other, until they start to pop up in each others
visions, thoughts and minds. At first, we question, can anyone else
see them? We don’t quite know what is going on. But then we aren’t
supposed to. Because neither do the characters. They are somewhat
kept in the dark just as much as we are, almost until the end of the
series I would say. I am not a fan of the first scene; though it
somehow became better once the final episodes came to play, as you
understood it more. I think what annoys me through Sense 8 is Naveen
Andrews. And I really hate to say that because I truly adore Naveen;
he has done some great work, is a fantastic actor, and after spending
time with him, he is a remarkable person. But something just wasn’t
right about him in Sense 8. I am still trying to put my finger on it
so I guess I won’t say much else until I discover quite what it is I
want to say. But he doesn’t work. He even starts to become… annoying.
I think this may partly be due to the fact that we just dont know
enough about him. And it doesn’t become mysterious and intriguing. It
simply just becomes irritating. It’s the same with the other “baddies”
who are trying to destroy these “sensates” across the world; we just
don’t know enough about them. We aren’t invested in them and therefore
there isn’t enough urgency and that OMG they’re coming!! factor that
could have been there and would have made a huge difference. In the
same way the show takes its time to explain each sensate’s character,
life and circumstance, they should have done the same with “Mr
Whispers” (annoying name) and whoever else is involved in killing them
(I’ve already forgotten their names, and I guess that is my point). I
don’t need answers straight away, so that’s fine, but then don’t
include characters we have no investment in and expect us to care
Lets talk other characters. We instantly like Nomi (a transgender
hactivist blogger person) and Amanita (her lesbian girlfriend). Let me
not be dishonest; when I first saw 2 girls having sex with a dildo for
a split second I thought oh here we go. It’s Hollyoaks with a much
bigger budget. But we instantly like them. Their relationship and love
is genuine, and we know immediately that they are going to face
trouble; and immediately we root for them. Their scenes are intimate
and personal. Freema Agyeman (Amanita) does a great job; there were so
many chances for her to over-act and she just didn’t, she nailed it
imo. Same with Jamie Clayton (Nomi). I was waiting for her to annoy me
but every time I thought she would, she made me love her just a little
bit more. I was in love with their love, the power it gave them and
their resilience. Nomi and Amanita are a power couple and their story
line, as well as Nomi, is one of the strongest.
Capheus (Aml Ameen) alongside Nomi, seems to be a favourite amongst viewers. I did my
fair share of research and, many were longing for more Nairobi scenes.
I agree. From some perspectives, Sense 8 might have a “slow start” and
be void of effective cliffhangers, but it was the end of EP3 with
EPICNESS from Doona Bae (Sun) and Capheus that left me desperate to
continue to EP 4. In fact, Sun, a Korean businesswoman who can kick
ass, despite being somewhat bland, added that excitement that only
cool-as-fuck fighting scenes can bring, and they were only going to be
epic with the Wachowskis directing. Capheus calls on Sun when he needs
to fight for his life (or for his mums life) and we find ourselves
often hoping he will call on her again soon. For me, it was truly
Capheus and Sun and the 3rd episode that kicked this show into action
and reminded the viewer, if they were starting to question and get
restless, why they were watching. Capheus also reminds us that we must
always fight for what is right, no matter how hard it may be. His character is courageous and charming.
He also reminds us that there is always a reason to fight. Always a reason to
smile. As always, Aml offers layers and an energy to his character
that wasn’t in the script, but simply in his own understanding of
Capheus and the elements that bring his personality to life. His best
friend, Jela, played by Paul Ogola, was also phenomenal and I hope to see
more of him elsewhere. He’s a very natural actor and has a strong presence.
Speaking of natural acting, Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre) who plays a
big Mexican actor with a secret, has
moments that are almost cringe-worthy and so far from natural that you
just have to laugh, and then after you’ve laughed you realise that he
is actually brilliant and you love him. I swear it really does happen like that. Even
his “beard” Daniela, played by Mexican actress Erindira Ibarra, who
we don’t really care about initially, somehow becomes cute and adorable in
her final scenes. And this happens quite a lot with the characters;
Max, a German safe-hacker with murderous tendencies, is bland and
boring at first, but then manages to become sexy, intense and useful.
Will, a Chicago cop with daddy issues, is just another bloke from CSI,
until you realise how connected he is, how big his heart is, and his
desire to truly understand and connect the Sensates to each other. He
is brave and willing to do what it takes to survive.
Riley is a strange one for me; as much as her storyline seems to take
precedence I just can’t be as interested in her as I feel I am
supposed to. For the majority of the show, it wasn’t her storyline I was clinging on to, as much as some of the others, although there was no doubt a mystery about her. But as her story unfolds and in the closing episodes, when we learn more about her history, she made more sense to me and there is a deeper connection there that I believe will explain a lot more for viewers in Season 2. She also boasts some of the most visually beautiful scenes in the show, as well as being a great actress.
I can’t go through every character in depth obviously, mostly because I don’t want to ruin it
for anyone. But I must also mention Kala (Tina Desai).
Something about her is magical on screen. She is a real cutie, and I
don’t believe there is one viewer that didn’t warm to her immediately.
She is also rather comical, though some of her lines were silly, she gets away with it.
After meeting and spending several months with all of the cast, in
various locations at different times, I’ve realised that the reason
Sense 8 is also so great is because the characters are authentic. That
“something” that made each of them unique, the same way everyone in
this world has something that makes them “them”, was successfully, yet
subtly portrayed on the screen. Something that cannot be put into
words, assessed, right or wronged. They all possess a presence, a sort
of magic that cannot be denied, and I believe it is the same for Sense
8 as a whole. At first, your instincts may be to rubbish what you
don’t understand. But as the days pass, you’ll find Sense 8 is still
on your mind, and you will start to connect events in your every day
lives with events in the show. You will start to realise just how true
and human the show is. I believe, before too long, people will start
to realise that, when watching Sense 8, they are in fact watching
themselves. And facing yourself can be a hard task for even the
strongest to bear.
I cant help but feel that the few that are nit-picking and being difficult regarding the show are doing so
because they find the show makes them uncomfortable. Unlike many shows, where fast cuts, short scenes, pretty faces and violence covers a multitude of filmic sins, and keeps the viewer too busy to question
too much, Sense 8 has you so obliviously locked in, that when it isn’t continuously offering all of this and is still, or slow, so are you. You are left to face yourself, left to explore and question and that’s where it becomes a problem. A problem
that for many others, is seen as a work of genius. I am also much more
for long scenes; there is a beautiful balance of old and new in Sense
8; it is leaning more towards the new and modern, of course, but
something about its style of filming reminds me of an old love movie.
But then your love affair is burst by silly or comedic shots, and you
remember once again just how human you, we all are. It’s fantastic. I
don’t know if this was done intentionally. But it is what happens, if
you allow it to.
There is a lot of gay sex in it and honestly, I did fear that that
might be a pain for me to have to watch. Not because I am a
homophobic, but unless I am watching porn, I wouldn’t want to watch
long scenes of straight sex either; I am seeing sex more and more all
over every show and movie and it has become more and more distasteful.
Sex is sacred. It is literally a sharing of spirits. It is so much
more than the physical. And I guess that Sense 8 knew this. And
somehow, they managed to portray this despite the fact that the gay
sex was always between extremely good looking men, all muscular and
toned and very aware of their looks; it was a very thin line between
becoming silly scenes of self obsessive, soft gay porn, and scenes
that represented so much more than the sex that was being had. Of
course, the latter is what they were trying to achieve, and it worked
in moments as I was able to stand all the sex scenes without wanting
to fast forward. I’m just not comfortable with too much sex as usually
in shows, it is just used to cover up the fact that the story line is
pretty lame. It is usually sexist towards women as well, distasteful
or vulgar, and just not representative of the type of sex I want to be
having. But this? This meant more. This takes away the shame of sex,
which seems to be an underlying tone in many a movie; secret sex,
stolen sex, dirty sex. The sex in Sense 8 was more about Freedom. In
some of the orgy scenes, we must remember that, they aren’t actually
physically with each other; they are in different parts of the world.
Sex does not have to be physical. True sex, and true orgasmic bliss,
is a state of the mind. Or more truthfully, of the heart. And this
show screams, HEART.
This masterpiece, with episodes also directed by Tom Tykwer and written by Michael J
Staczynski, is incredible. We are able to delve into these peoples lives, be intimate with them, feel what they feel and, although on paper some of the story lines may seem cliche or stereo-typical, on screen they are interesting, with moments of brilliance. And then there are the additional elements that you just don’t find outside of a Wachowskis project. Finally, someone dares to tell stories that
most avoid. At last, a show of substance. A show that I can take my
time with, explore, get lost in. I think an important thing to
understand when watching Sense 8 is to not expect. Just “be”.
Understand. Hear. Feel. The visuals alone take you around the world in
its truest form. In our real lives, we get stuck in the past or
anxious about the future. And when we watch TV we tend to do the same;
“where is this going? I need to understand, I need action, I need
Finally a show that delivers itself in the way in which it expects to
be watched; in the moment. I feel as though Sense 8 is just a series
of moments; and each character shares theirs with you. Of course, if
you have the attention span of a brick, say, the average American
viewer then you may get bored. I find it hard to understand how on
earth one could get bored of epic backdrops and a multi-national cast
that somehow seemed to be connected. And in essence, this is what the
show is about; Connection. Love. Compassion. Courage. Unity. So yes,
it is right up my street. And the fact that I can honestly relate to
so much within the various characters, is one of the reasons this show
stays in a special place in my heart. I often complain that as people
we are becoming de-sensitized, detached from one another. So selfish,
so focused on the things that we will ultimately come to find are not
real or important, they just appear to be; most TV shows survive and
thrive on, this unimportant yet unmovable delusion. I often worried I
was bi-polar; switching from such a vast range of emotions in matters
of moments, not understanding why I felt the pain of so many others,
or a sudden rush of joy which I knew came from the other side of the
world yet somehow from somewhere within me, right next to me, would
overtake my whole being. Did I need Sense 8 to help me understand this
huge part of my life? No. But I am extremely excited and relieved that
these stories are starting to be told. Because it is the future, but
it is also the past. It felt like a return to Source, when we are
truly able to be at one again, truly able to operate within our true
powers and abilities. I believe we are at our most powerful when we
are connected, but this connection takes true courage and growth, and
Sense 8 demonstrates that through delicate, heart-warming moments,
through to its exciting and aggressive fighting scenes, Matrix style.
I guess we need to ask ourselves, what is our intentions with
story-telling these days? Are audiences influencing movie-makers, or
are movie-makers influencing audiences? What stories do we want to
tell? Is it just about earning a quick buck? Is a successful movie or
show now only simply defined by how much it cashes in? By how many
millions tune in? It would seem obvious to define its success this
way, of course. But with the intelligence and attention span of the
average viewer dropping dramatically, would it be wise to continue to
only make films, shows that are seemingly in demand? Will that not only
keep us stuck? If film can influence, don’t we want to shape powerful
futures, encourage powerful visions? We must think of our futures when
watching and creating films. And we mustn’t be scared to be original
either. People are scared of true originality. They are scared of the
unknown. But if it isn’t unknown then it has already been done and if
its already been done well then, what is much of the point?
Kudos to the Wachowskis. This project is and was right up my street
and I as well as many others who still appreciate good art, will very
much be looking forward to Season 2.
I’d like to again thank the Wachowskis and Tom Twyker for having
me on set and making me feel a part of this journey. The Wachowskis
are warm and welcoming people, with huge hearts and their priorities
seem to lie in what is important, what is true, over what is popular.
I respect that. I am always drawn to people who, no matter what, even
if the whole world told them the sky is blue, if they knew deep down
in their hearts that it was black, even if that truth meant they would
have to go through hell in their lives, they would still swear the sky
was black. There is nothing more powerful in this world than love, and
I think the Wachowskis have always known that. I hope their mission to
continue to spread this truth and to encourage unity and freedom
throughout the world, for all, is supported and strengthened.
I happen to randomly be in one of the episodes looking ROUGH
thanks to Lana Wachowski. “Hey Portia, do you wanna jump in this
scene?” (as I busied myself taking behind the scenes pics) But you generally
only see the side of my face. So it’s all good ☺
Reviews on Sense 8 so far, critics, press and viewers worldwide, I would say are roughly 85% good, but I have a feeling, based on the delivery of its story telling, that its a creeper and before long, everyone is going to be mind-blown. It’s literally a case of “you either love it now or you love it later, either way you’re gonna be head-fucked”. Sense8 is what people didn’t even realize they needed until they got it, and I suspect the demand for a 2nd series will be high
The cinematography and visuals of this show is outstanding. I will be uploading some more posts with behind the scenes images from various cities soon. I do wish there was more from some of the cities. I say this because, having visited them myself, I failed to see some of the qualities that make them such fantastic cities, delivered in the show. Of course aesthetically, they were beautifully represented, but I would have liked to see more from the locals, more from the people. I don’t know. Something was missing though. It felt like almost a waste because the fact that they filmed in all these 8 cities really was a huge achievement.
Some of the dialogue in the show was just unnecessary and took away from what otherwise would have been even more effective scenes.
There are some brilliant scenes and lines i really want to talk about but I don’t want to spoil it; just get to watching if you haven’t already and feel free to tweet or message your thoughts x