Netflix reviews: Latest releases

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This week, Imprint took a look at three shows that premiered on Netflix on Nov. 11, 2016, watching the first episode of each of the three shows to form impressions.

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

Set in the era of Marcus Aurelius, this show attempts to present the many factors that led to Commodus taking the role of Roman Emperor in 180 BCE. This includes the Germanic Wars to the North, the drama of the senate, and the copious amounts of sex involved, not to mention some gladiator action. If you are expecting a show like Rome, take a step back. If you are expecting a National Geographic documentary on what led to the fall of the great Roman Empire, take a larger step back. The first episode is a sad mix of the two, with lacklustre acting and terrible direction.

The first episode does show at least three sex scenes, and copious amounts of beautiful men and women in semi-naked states of dress, which almost make up for the acting, but not quite.

There is some confusion as to why the Roman empress looks more like a Germanic viking than a member of Rome, but we’ll have to suppose it’s for good reason, like selling to mass audiences. You may learn something from the many experts and professors commenting on the story, but if you’re really looking to learn about this topic I suggest listening to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.

The next two shows are Netflix-acquired shows. While these shows are listed as Netflix originals, that is not the case. Instead, Netflix has bought exclusive distribution rights to stream them in countries of their choice. Netflix has done this with many shows, but this week’s premieres happened to be different languages.

Estocolmo 

This Spanish crime drama is centered around a human trafficking ring being brought down by an unlikely pairing: a prosecutor, an undercover agent, and a journalist. The show started with “present day” news coverage and jumped back three years to show the beginnings of an unlikely friendship, but the last couple of minutes of the episode were again in “present day.”

The show is entirely in Spanish and it began with a text message that was never translated at any point in the episode, so the whole time I was scratching my head about what happened. Another example of this is that many frames are shown as news stories on TV and all the information written on the screen was not translated anywhere else either. While there are gaps in my understanding of the show so far, the episode did make me want to keep watching to see what happens next and maybe fill in those gaps as well.

The show was created by and features an all Argentinian cast and crew, which is huge for mainstream media to feature and is the second of its kind on Netflix.

Case (“Réttur”)

The show is focused around a pair of detectives investigating an apparent suicide of a young girl, Lára. Iceland is the island where the sun never goes down, and it seems as though the action never stops either. The episode showed many varying relationships of a large group of people, which was overwhelming — especially since it felt like I was missing a large chunk of the cultural cues that others may have understood.

I had a few qualms with the show which focused on the women in it. First, there was no attempt at covering Lára’s body when they were examining it, which is a sign of respect, and second, in one scene one character grabs a woman at work by her genitals causing her pain; this was not something I ever expected to see and it did not add anything to the story either.

The end of the episode was intriguing and raised many questions, inevitably drawing the audience in to watch more. This show was also created by and features an all-Icelandic cast and crew which, like Estocolmo, is a huge leap for mainstream media as this is the first show from Iceland to be on Netflix.

The biggest takeaway for this week would be that Netflix should include in show descriptions what language the show is in, and what language the subtitles are available in.

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